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Payola refers to the act of paying a DJ or a radio station to play a song. The practice is illegal in all major music markets. Payola was common in the early days of rock music, and many well known DJS fell from grace when the practice was exposed. Dick Clark was once famously involved in a Payola scandal during a 1959 crackdown on the practice, though he avoided prosecution after agreeing to cooperate with investigators. More recently, in 2006, Sony BMG Records admitted to engaging in Payola and were fined millions of dollars.

Payola is also sometimes used to describe the practice of bands paying venue operators for a chance to play a show. This practice is also called "pay to play".

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