Why Music Will Win the World Cup

There are more official World Cup songs than ever this year, as the music industry vies to get a share of what in 2010 was reportedly the second-most-watched event in TV history. Broadcast coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa reached a record 3.2 billion people worldwide, or 46.4 percent of the global population, according to research firm KantarSport. (The 2012 Summer Olympics in London were watched by 3.6 billion.) The 2014 edition, which takes place in Brazil from June 12 through July 13, is also a draw for marketers, with more than $1 billion spent on official marketing rights in 2010, and a long roster of "ambush" brands prepping campaigns this summer.

The World Cup's power as a hitmaker has been on the rise since Ricky Martin's breakout 1998 hit "La Copa de la Vida" topped the charts in seven countries. The 2010 World Cup proved to be a launch-pad for African singer K'naan, whose Coca-Cola-backed anthem "Wavin' Flag" was a nearly platinum-selling hit in the United States. Shakira scored even bigger with "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)," which has sold 1.8 million U.S. downloads (according to Nielsen SoundScan) and continues to top the Latin digital charts some four years after its initial release.

Billboard spoke with music's biggest World Cup players and FIFA partners to get the inside track on their strategies.

Tom Corson

Team: RCA Music Group

Position: President/COO

Play Corson is the American striker in the game of making and marketing the official 2014 FIFA World Cup song, Pitbull's "We Are One (Ole Ola)"; the anthem "Dar um Jeito (We Will Find a Way)," with Santana, Wyclef Jean, Avicii and Alexandre Pires; and the 14-track official album, "One Love, One Rhythm." Released one month before the tournament, the album also includes songs from Shakira, Ricky Martin and a soul-bossa version of "It's Your Thing" by The Isley Brothers.

Strategy The official songs are being launched as superstar singles rather than stadium anthems, with each artist promoting his or her song on TV, through social media and in concert. Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte will debut "We Are One" during the Billboard Music Awards on ABC. Ricky Martin debuted "Vida" at the Billboard Latin Music Awards on Telemundo.

Chances Since its April 8 release, "We Are One" has charted for only one week on the Hot 100, at No. 88. The song has sold 42,000 digital downloads in the United States. On YouTube, it has been viewed 16 million times, despite being panned by the majority of viewers. Corson points to the song's No. 1 debuts in 19 other countries and says that the sky's the limit once the Cup begins. "Shakira's [2010 official World Cup anthem] 'Waka Waka' sold almost 10 million [worldwide], when the digital market was not as robust as it is today," he says. "There will be 700 million people or more watching when 'We Are One' is performed live at the opening, in Sao Paulo. Then social media and excitement for soccer will drive it."

Trivia Pitbull aggressively pursued Corson. "This is not just a song, it's a major branding opportunity," says Corson. "Pit has been on a mission, and he's unstoppable. He's named Pitbull for a reason."

 

Alex Schiavo

Team: Sony Music Brazil

Position: President

Play As the head of Sony in the host country, Schiavo was charged with running the draft for Brazilian artists to be included on the official World Cup tracks - a FIFA mandate. Sony Brazil also ran the Internet SuperSong contest, which let international songwriters compete to have Ricky Martin record their entry.

Strategy "The World Cup is a kickoff to expose Brazilian artists outside of Brazil," says Schiavo. Internationally friendly Brazilians Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Bebel Gilberto, as well as some artists less well-known abroad, are featured on the World Cup album, which has an overall Carnival atmosphere. In addition, three compilations of Brazilian music will be released globally. Schiavo's team created advance hype around Martin's second World Cup recording of the SuperSong contest's winning entry, which encouraged the public to vote for their favorite.

Chances Schiavo has found himself in the role of sweeper, defending Sony from swift criticism inside Brazil of the backward looking sound of the official album (see sidebar, page 41). On the other hand, Sony may have a winner with "Vida," which debuted at No. 11 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart on May 10th.

Trivia Elijah King, a Miami-based Puerto Rican composer and performer, won the SuperSong contest with "Vida." He was subsequently signed by Sony Music Latin. King has previously recorded several singles and was featured with Prince Royce on the English remix of Daddy Yankee's 2011 hit "Ven Conmigo."

 

Steve Schnur

Team: Electronic Arts

Position: President, EA Music Group

Play Schnur and his team compiled the soundtrack to EA's 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil game. "What we try to do is find bands that will change your life," says Schnur. EA assisted fellow FIFA partners Coke and Sony with including "The World Is Ours" with David Correy and Aloe Blacc and Pitbull's "We Are One" in the game.

Strategy "We utilize the platform to make sure that the sound of soccer is truly a global one for everyone," says Schnur. "What we've learned is that in 2014 people in Japan and people in Italy really want to discover music from Brazil and music from Germany. Long gone are the days when music was something local."

Chances Inclusion in an EA soccer game is guaranteed international exposure. About 12 million copies of each edition of FIFA soccer games are sold globally.

Trivia After its debut, on April 15, FIFA World Cup debuted at No. 2 on the U.K. video games chart.

 

Joe Belliotti and David Correy

Team: Coca-Cola

Position: global head of entertainment marketing; artist

Play As Coke's forward on "The World Is Ours," Correy sings on 24 international versions of the song.

Strategy Correy's play with Coke has taken him around the globe, performing as part of the World Cup Trophy Tour. His relationship with the brand will extend to an artist development deal.

Chances Coke bet on a rookie to front its campaign, and for the 28-year-old R&B singer, it's already a win. Correy's previous career achievement was as a finalist on The X Factor. With "The World Is Ours," he has developed a global following. A deal with a major label is expected to be announced by World Cup kickoff time. "This is the greatest opportunity of my life," says Correy. "I'm not going to let anybody down."

Trivia Correy was born in Recife, Brazil, and adopted by a family from Maryland. His role with Coke allowed him to rediscover his Brazilian identity. "Any time we are looking for an artist for a campaign, it always starts with the story we're trying to tell," says Belliotti. "David has an incredible story."

 

Carlos Vives

Team: Coca-Cola

Position" Latin Music Star

Play Colombian singer Vives is featured on "La Copa de Todos," a bilingual version of Coca-Cola's "The World Is Ours," recorded in collaboration with David Correy.

Strategy Coke drafted Vives, a Colombian superstar, to sing its anthem and act as an ambassador to Spanish-speaking audiences in U.S. Latin and other international markets.

Chances With 18 career hits on Hot Latin Songs, including five No. 1s, and seven titles on the Top Latin Albums chart, including two No. 1s, Vives is a superstar addition to Coca-Cola's World Cup campaign team. After a hiatus from performing, Vives made a comeback in 2013 with his album "Corazon Profundo," which spent two weeks at No. 1 last year.

Trivia Vives grew up playing soccer on the beach in his hometown of Santa Marta on Colombia's Caribbean coast. He accompanied his father to games of the local soccer team Union Magdalena, also known as the Ciclon Bananero.


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