Jock Jams: The Songs That Pump Stadiums Up

A look at the rock, pop and hip-hop crowd-pleasers taking over the PA at sporting events

More than a century has passed since Jack Norworth wrote the lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in 15 minutes during a train trip to Manhattan. And anyone who's been to a sporting event in the past decade knows that the music programming has moved far beyond the standard stadium organists.

"Rock'n'rollers have taken over the stadium. There's nonstop music, pinball noises, flashing lasers," says Fred Traube, head of Watertown, Conn.-based Pro Sports Music Marketing, who works with major labels and artist managers to promote music to pro and college ballparks.

And even though Michael Steinberg, BMI senior vp licensing, says the money earned from blanket licensing of the performing rights organization's catalog to sporting venues is a small fraction of its $1 billion annual revenue, it has doubled during the past decade.

The music in stadiums motivates not just the fans but also the players. Phish's "Wilson" became a rallying cry for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson during the team's drive to the Super Bowl in 2013, and many players have signature "walk-up" music. "A song can pump you up and get those emotions flowing," says Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier, whose walk-up songs have included "Royals" and "Team" by Lorde. Another candidate: Imagine Dragons' "Demons," a favorite of his kids, ages 6 and 4.

As perennials like Queen's "We Will Rock You" and Blur's "Song 2" get worn out, the playlists have gotten more current - like Pro Sports Music Marketing's latest top five sporting event songs.

Top 5 Arena Anthems:

1. DJ Snake & Lil Jon, "Turn Down for What"
2. Pharrell, "Happy"
3. Calvin Harris, "Summer"
4. Dillion Francis & DJ Snake, "Get Low"
5. AJR, "I'm Ready"

Based on Pro Sports Music Marketing survery of stadiums and arenas in July 2014.


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