SBJ/September 5-11, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

New NFL deal tunes up teams’ music choices

The NFL has signed a multiyear deal with Banshee Music that will give the league more control over the pop tunes its teams use in-stadium, on television and online.

The first three songs from the deal with Banshee Music will be released this week.
The deal is described as a music-branding partnership, not a licensing deal. No money is changing hands between the NFL and Banshee.

The first three songs from the deal will be released this week: “Knockdown” from Sammy Hagar and Joe Satriani; “The Fight’s About to Begin” by Hinder; and “Kick Off” by Darius Rucker.

Any of the league’s teams can use these songs during games or via their media presentations, such as highlight packages online or on TV. Starting Tuesday, they will be available on the NFL’s iTunes page.

To date, teams pay a public performance license to use music in the stadium. That cost is typically between $15,000 and $30,000 a year. Teams still will have that expense to have access to pop songs that aren’t part of Banshee’s catalogue, and teams then have to pay separate licenses if they want to use those songs elsewhere, like during a coach’s show. The Banshee deal gives the leagues and teams more control over the music.

“Traditional licensing models can be restrictive and get costly,” said John Canaday, vice president of sports marketing for Banshee Music. “But we’re finding more artists are giving up more rights than they typically would to be associated with the NFL. … Artists are more open to working in these types of relationships than in the past.”

The partnership plans to roll out several more songs in the coming weeks, from musical performers like James Durbin, Jordin Sparks and Kelly Rowland.

This is a growing trend in the sports business. The NFL, so far, is the first major professional sports league to explore deals like this. Banshee has worked with a handful of college teams, from Michigan to Texas. Last year, it cut deals with four NFL teams (the Cowboys, Falcons, Packers and Panthers) to create team songs. Created in 2007, Banshee has a library of between 1,000 and 2,000 songs, all created for the firm’s clients.

Earlier this month, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris was part of early meetings during which Banshee auditioned music to be used for a team song. The team eventually selected Tampa rapper Lil Kee to create a team song called “Battle Flags.” Morris suggested that the rapper drop some player names into the song.

“You might see some songs stick and turn into traditions, and you might see some songs take off and fade away like other music releases,” Canaday said.
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