October 10, 2022

Gaming, Sports and Reaching Fans

How sports and gaming represent opportunities for gaining new fans.

Mayuyuka Kaunda

In a previous article we highlighted how Mavin Records’ artist activations resemble the hype and pageantry of player announcements by football clubs.The symbiotic relationship between sports and popular music carries with it a long tradition, benefitting from its embrace by organizations such as the Olympics, NFL, FIFA and the NBA. Landmark moments across several sporting codes have been coloured by rhythms just as memorable as the athletes’ heroic displays. 

In just the world of football; K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag”, Naira Marley’s “Issa Goal” and Nelly Furtado‘s “Força” have greatly contributed to the spectacular entertainment on the field of play. This year’s football World Cup will see both afrobeats superstar Davido and leading rapper Lil Baby contribute official anthems to the globally-enjoyed spectacle. Alongside the release of these anthems, the reveal of EA Sports’ FIFA 23 tracklist soundtrack was received with much fanfare - and announced as a Spotify exclusive. Spotify’s alignment with this compilation is in lockstep with their FC Barcelona partnership. Whilst these moves will inevitably be viewed in contrast to the recent announcement of Apple Music as sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show; these are merely separate approaches to harnessing music’s power to reach new markets. Add the fan bases and brand value of partnering artists as well and the transformative potential of this cross-pollination is clear.

An artist’s association with sports-driven content represents the same logic at play, as it opens them up to new audiences with overlapping interests, a predisposition to loyalty… and spending power. A perfect example of this is rising rapper GloRilla narrating the Memphis Grizzlies 22/23 season visuals. Sport constantly embracing new technology also enables artists to have their creations live on several digital platforms in extension to the real world benefits, as proven by music's essential integration into games like Grand Theft Auto, which expose Burna Boy to fresh ears and Travis Scott’s highly-acclaimed Fortnite concert. The latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 trailer features Lil Baby and Nicki Minaj for instance while South African rapper Nasty C is partnering with the franchise to promote its mobile offering on the continent. Most recently, A$AP Rocky's inclusion in 'Need for Speed Unbound' is the perfect combination of music star, drip ambassador and in-game character.

Whether through narration, crafting a jingle, offering their likeness or licensing a song; artists associating with a sporting brand, experience or event inevitably leads to exposure to potential fans. With the similarities between sports and music fans already established, artists can leverage platforms to subtly insert themselves into prospective supporters’ lifestyles and become a part of the digital conversation. Forming partnerships that are driven by mobile-ready, tech solutions will enable artists to not only tap into new worlds, but gain insights through measurable data. If there’s still any doubt in anyone’s mind about the opportunity of grabbing fans from across  the aisle, Dua Lipa’s “One Kiss” being adopted as an anthem by Liverpool FC fans is the perfect illustration of how artists can use sports to gain new converts. 

In addition to in-real-life experiences, virtual gaming platforms are effectively becoming sites for music discovery and are populated by fully-formed communities and deeply-engaged audiences. As we move into a time where virtual events and concerts are becoming the norm, perhaps it's time artists  brace for live sporting events delivered through these fan-focused platforms too. Until then, being the soundtrack to the fan’s virtual experiences is sure to cultivate relationships in time for the rising tide. 

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