A new website is offering to pay music journalists to listen to bands in a move which appears to overstep a number ethical guidelines.
The website, The Men from the Press, charges aspiring musicians a fee to send their music to journalists. It then pays the journalists £5 a pop to listen to bands and make a comment on what they have heard. The whole process is automated.
Former PR Tim Vignon, who manages the Streets and Delphic, told The Guardian: “My instinct is that it’s wrong on every level. It feels like payola even though there’s nothing illegitimate about it and all they’re after is feedback.”
Journalists will be plied with drinks and bought lunch by PRs in all fields. And in some areas of journalism, I’m thinking travel in particular, the freebies journalists (and increasingly celebs acting as journalists) take can look pretty dodgy.
But this website smacks of exploitation for the bands concerned and will be a quick way to lose crediblity for any journalists involved. Surely music journalists should base which new bands they give a listen to on criteria other than which ones are willing to stuff their pockets with cash?
What next? Political journalists interviewing prospective parliamentary candidates under the same criteria?