Music’s Influence on Fan Engagement

By Daniel Cox, January 6, 2014

Most of us would probably rather not imagine a world without music. It’s the soundtrack to our lives and even when things are going wrong in that motion picture, you can dub in some music and things aren’t quite as bad. You can add music and make a super hero more super, a villain more villainous and any dramatic moment that much more dramatic. In short, music makes everything better.

But what about sports? Where does music fit into sports? Does music matter to fans in attendance at a pro sports venue? Music can make you feel a lot of things, like crying, but is music a necessary element to an unforgettable event experience?

No matter where you stand on this topic, I think you could agree that music definitely plays a role in many of the traditions that we love at sporting events. Remove pre-game introductions, fight songs and baseball’s seventh-inning stretch and what do you have? A stripped-down product offering few of the diversions modern-day sporting events offer. Maybe you’re old-fashioned and those diversions don’t mean much to you. You wouldn’t be a minority in that thinking, but can you honestly imagine a game without the accompaniment of music in some fashion? There’s a lot of down time in sports and music helps fill the void, but it accomplishes a few other things as well.

For one, music serves to excite fans and athletes alike. The Sports Journal, after a lengthy study, wrote that music is highly likely to positively influence athletic performance. Athletes hear the music played inside arenas and it does affect them, especially during the pre-game warm-up periods when music is played on an unending loop. And how does that music affect the fans, who can in turn influence the players?

An informal survey of a few fans that regularly attend professional sporting events that I conducted said they couldn’t imagine a game without music. It’s become as big of a part of the culture of game day as adult beverages and foam fingers. Most stadiums these days rely heavily on the influence of current pop music, well beyond the basic energy of Jock Jams, and while fans are hearing music they’re not always accustomed to, they’re consistently open to it and have even heard songs they admit to enjoying outside of game day.

Fans generally feel upbeat as a response to the music playing, prompting them to remain more active and involved in the game. An involved crowd can certainly have an influence on the players and the game; just ask Seattle’s 12th man or Kansas City Chiefs fans. Music is essential to the fan and player experience.

Think about it like this: when you attend an office meeting, is there music playing in the conference room as you wait to begin? Do you wish there was? Of course you do. There’s also a reason company helplines have music playing while you wait for service. Music has an effect.

Any conference or event can be great on its own, carried by its guests or big idea, but can the reception of the guest or idea and the overall vibe and energy of an event be influenced by music? It’s pretty likely it can and that’s something to consider when planning how to engage your audience.

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