Paul Porter is a guru, visionary and has led a Forrest Gump-James Bond life in the blackback hidden world of technologies, culture and communications. Follow his timeline in BLACKOUT and it will explain TRULY why things are the way they are. Pay attention!
Public Enemy-Prophets Of Rage
Paul Porter has been the mellifluous voice of Black music as a host on BET, its most loving critic and its most passionate advocate. His long history in the music and entertainment business makes him the ideal guide through the sometimes treacherous history of an industry where corporate executives and radio conglomerates wield enormous power over artists, and often abuse or fail them. Blackout is essential reading for anyone who cares about the history and future of African-Americans in the multi-billion dollar music industry.
Joy-Ann Reid, host of “AM Joy” on MSNBC
In his book BLACKOUT: My 40 Years In The Music Business, industry veteran Paul Porter shares his compelling personal story about how the music industry REALLY operates. He brings us inside the music industry’s “sausage factory” to reveal the dark and troubling reality of the business that very few people get to see. But Porter’s exposé also offers an enlightening message of hope for the music industry and for its broader impact on our culture. It is a must-read for anyone who loves, or is critical of, the business of music in America.
President, Parents Television Council
Blackout is an explosive look at the corruption that is running rampant throughout the music industry. From the desperate promotion departments at major record labels who will do anything to get their acts on the radio and on video to the greedy program directors who take cash, gifts and other luxuries, Blackout will explore how corruption is rearing its ugly head once again.
Blackout also examines “legal payola” and how corporations are now the major beneficiaries of under-the-table payments and pay-to-play.
With the Telecommunications Act of 1996, consolidation would forever change the music industry. It was a bill that was originally designed to stimulate the economy by loosening up the rules for selling goods on the Internet. But inadvertently, it gave license for communications companies like Clear Channel to start buying up radio stations like penny candy.
Before long, seven companies owned 70% of the radio stations in the United States. There were very few individual owners who could determine what would be played. This meant smaller, corporate-influenced radio playlists. There would be less variety and more of the same artists, over and over again. These new stations were like funnels and the only records that would make it through were the ones with the cash to push them out. If the record labels wanted to hear their acts on the radio, they would have to fall in line—and cough up major bucks.
The same would happen in video as well. When Bob Johnson sold BET to Viacom for three billion dollars, it meant that MTV now owned it’s only major competitor. And getting your video on either channel would now cost you thousands.
Blackout is about how the digital age in the mid-90s exposed radio stations that frequently lied about how often they were playing the songs they were being paid by record labels to play; it’s about how the golden age of the trained broadcaster was soon replaced with interns, DJs and mixers who, for years, had been silent in the booth. Blackout explores how radio has become one of the few media outlets where salaries have plunged as profits have skyrocketed. And Blackout will break down the shake-ups that will be happening very shortly. Much like Alan Freed’s payola trials in the 50s, and the pay-for-play scandals involving music men like Clive Davis in the 70s, the music industry is on the cusp of another huge investigation and many of the major players in the music industry may find themselves unemployed, at best and possibly, in prison.
And in many ways, Blackout is my story. Since 1976, when the busing riots in Boston sent me scrambling into the radio station at WRBB at Northeastern University, the music industry has been my life. During my very first stint in radio, I was Paul “Pure Love” Porter from midnight to three AM and I fell in love with the medium of radio and the impact I had on my community.
Radio introduced me to women. Radio introduced me to cocaine. Radio introduced me to some of my best friends. And radio killed some of them too. Blackout is a ride through my whirlwind of media jobs, working for and with some of the most colorful, well-known and scandalous players in the music industry.
I know that radio and video are influential in shaping young minds. And my experiences have changed my outlook. “Morality is not an option” is now my mantra. And there are people out there who won’t buy it. They’ll think I’m writing this book for revenge or just to make a buck. That’s fine. I can live with that. I can’t live with what’s become of the music industry. I’m partly responsible for bringing it to the depths it’s sunk to today. But I can also be responsible for exposing the ugliness and peeling back the layers for everyone to see.