The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. In the 1950’s, the American government exerted considerable legal pressure on the music industry to end payola. It’s ironic that the sullied system of secret paybacks may now be the only way to save today’s record industry. Payola has already made a big comeback in the dot com world. Online services charge high fees to feature content with keywords, and search engines regularly return sites whose spot on the list has been bought and paid for. Now, the Copyright Board has heard that half of the music tracks copied to blank CDs are in the form of compilations. Gut instinct says that almost every MP3 copied to a blank CD is part of a compilation. That makes sense. Albums are typically made up of a dozen weak tracks carried by two or three strong ones. For the music industry, this is a double-edged sword. People place a value on personalizing their listening experience, and are likely willing to pay for the privilege. On the other hand, people won’t stand for paying for music they don’t want. Top 40 hits will become the dominant currency of the industry and its main revenue as the mainstream audience abandons the traditional long play album. Record companies will be forced to find ways to promote the content that doesn’t hit the charts if consumers are to have any real choice in the marketplace. Payola – paying radio stations and, now, Internet music networks, to play music – is the best way to bring new content from fresh artists to the attention of finicky music downloaders. Big artists will always be able to sell a full album of songs to a large share of the market. For new and untried artists, however, resurrecting a new system of payola (re-spun as "featured content") will be a legitimate option.