On one hand, pay-for-play is repulsive because it allows deep pocketed promoters to promote bands ahead of others. Is this why it is repugnant?
Playing the devil's advocate here:
From a business sense, pay-for-play is like advertising, isn't it? It is a way of building an audience.
In the end, there are audiences that radio stations have built up, and pay-for-play may be cheaper than plastering the streets with posters, or paying promoters, or touring, which is just as expensive.
One equivalent in the search engine world is SEO vs PPC listings. Each has its cost. If you didn't know the people looking for a particular genre of music, but somebody did, and they did it as a business - i.e. quit their jobs, put in risk capital, why wouldn't you pay them for the information?
Thanks. As someone who managed $48M in performance marketing, I was destroyed to see what musicians go through when I started promoting my album. I used to drop $2 CD's off at head shops because I thought stoners would like our music. People can complain about this all they want, but we believe this will be the PPC of music, and if I can play someone's music to 200 people for the same $2 that we spent giving it to one person, I will sleep very well at night.
Congratulations. It is an unintuitive solution to a persistent problem. Is it serendipity that you were doing PPC and making music at the same time? Most broke artists wouldn't have thought about spending money this way to get exposure, but this can really solve a very fundamental problem.