You may have noticed that last week we started adding a little tagline to the end of our posts:
FTC Disclosure: Glorious Noise didn’t receive a damn thing from any artist, label, or publicist for writing this.
If you haven’t heard about it, a new rule went into effect on December 1, 2009 stating that bloggers are now required to disclose endorsements from advertisers. A lot of people are interpreting this to mean that if someone who writes for an online zine (like Glorious Noise, for example) receives a review copy of a product (like an album, for example), they must disclose that when reviewing said product. This is much more strict than how the FTC treats newspapers or print magazines, all of which regularly receive free promotional copies of products. It’s expected. And it’s immaterial. It’s how this whole deal works.
We at Glorious Noise have never been paid to write about anything. But we often get promo copies of albums (physical and downloadable), and we occasionally get put on the guestlist for concerts. It’s true. Are you shocked? Have we violated your trust? Hope not. Because we are all committed to not let freebies influence our opinions.
Here’s what the FTC says:
The Commission does not believe that all uses of new consumer-generated media to discuss product attributes or consumer experiences should be deemed “endorsements” within the meaning of the Guides. Rather, in analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered “sponsored” by the advertiser and therefore an “advertising message.” In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in which case there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an “endorsement” that is part of an overall marketing campaign?
Glorious Noise has never endorsed anything other than Barack Obama in 2007. On occasion, we’ve strongly recommended albums and encouraged you to support the artists and purchase the music, but that’s our job. It’s what we do. And it’s always because we really love the music, never because we’re afraid our supply of unsolicited promo discs will dry up if we’re not nice.
When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed.
So we hereby publicly declare that while we sometimes receive promo copies of albums and guestlist entry to concerts, the receipt of these items for review purposes does not affect our analysis, and the value of these freebies is not high enough to make their receipt material. Therefore, we’re no longer appending the disclosure to our articles.
If, however, an advertiser wants to give us a big huge present (like a car or an all-inclusive vacation somewhere warm) to say nice things about their shit, we will be sure to take it and—in that unlikely scenario—we’ll disclose that fact to you, our readers.