According to a recent documentary, three songs are played more than any others in the United States.
First is “Happy Birthday,” second is “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And the third? “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” Think how many Major and Minor League Baseball and college baseball teams there are nationwide. And think of how many games they play. Just about all of ‘em spin “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” over the PA system during the seventh-inning stretch.
At Chicago’s Wrigley Field, there is a tradition for celebrities helping the crowd sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” often with hilariously horrendous results.
And before the first pitch and the opening kickoff, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is also played or sung.
So sports and music have been natural partners for well over a century. You or your artist can take advantage of this partnership to help build the brand of your music.
Nashville’s pro and college sports teams often have struggled on the field, on the court, or on the ice, but Music City leads the world in top-flight national anthem singers. With the hundreds of gifted vocalists and pickers living here full-time, there’s never a shortage for talented singers to belt out the anthem before a home game of the Titans, Preds, or Sounds.
Anthem singing is only the most obvious example of showcasing your musical talents at a sporting event, but in Music City, unless you’re on a major label, odds are you won’t get that gig. So what other opportunities are there to make the sports-music connection advantageous to you or your artist?
One huge opportunity is NASCAR. NASCAR and country music have been close friends for decades.
Again, the top NASCAR races are going to feature anthem performances by major artists. But those races last an entire day and an anthem lasts less than three minutes. Could you contact the track owner and explore the possibility of performing before or after the race, either in the infield or in a concourse area, or sell your CDs and merch and split the proceeds with the track?
Why not? And don’t just think of the two top NASCAR classifications. NASCAR and NHRA each sanction hundreds of local and regional races throughout the year, and many of those events would be delighted to have a gifted artist perform and help build the attendance.
Another opportunity for an artist and a team is to arrange a special event, where the price of a ticket to the ballgame includes a free concert afterwards. This helps both sides. The team loves to have the fans stick around and patronize the food and beverage and souvenir booths, while the artist gets a chance to perform in front of several hundred or thousand fans at once, and sell a boatload of CDs and merch.
This is another real advantage country has over other musical formats. Teams are looking for family-friendly entertainment, since so much of their fan base comes from family groups. Artists who need to use swear words for every other lyric wouldn’t fit that kind of audience, so country’s wholesome approach can be a huge selling point.
Another creative opportunity is to write a special song for a team that’s having a strong season. These tunes often get loads of radio airplay because if done well they capture a moment perfectly. Who can forget the Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle,” from the days of William “Refrigerator” Perry?
One of the cool things you’ll learn if you work in both music and sports is how close top athletes and top artists tend to be. Both businesses are fiercely competitive, and singers and NFL player both spend a great deal of time on the road, have comparatively short careers at the top levels, and are under gigantic public scrutiny and pressure.
So again, this could be an opportunity for you and your music. If you know any pro or college athletes who are big fans of your work, a little name dropping never hurts as you try to score new gigs and radio spins.
Sports and music are both gigantic industries in this country, and both are going after the same entertainment dollars. If you team your music with sports, you might just hit a grand slam.
By Phil Sweetland