The handpicked walk up and walk on music for baseball on all levels has been going on for years. Almost every batter and many pitchers pick the tunes they want when they enter, with many becoming some of the most recognizable calling cards that connect players to fans, the biggest being “Enter The Sandman,” which was Mariano Rivera’s calling card for years with the Yankees. Sometimes team entertainment directors, or even interns or other staffers, find songs to match players, much like organists did back in the day when things were not so meticulous. However the marriage between music and baseball especially, perhaps more than any other sport because of the long periods of time between the action, has always been there.
Now is it getting more detailed and customized, and is there a fun business opportunity out there? Last year the Mets Yoenis Céspedes caused a bit of a stir when he had a young star Josefina Sola, custom write his walk up music late in the season. It came out of a chance meeting while she was singing the National Anthem at CitiField, and it quickly grew from there. The there was a Rolling Stone piece late last year that talked about former MLB’er Royce Clayton forming a company that would write customized walk in and walk on songs for MLB players; no need to try and pick your favorite Metallica or Toby Keith song (although who owns the rights to play the music may become an issue), just work with the company to customize your sound, some with lyrics, some not.
Then came the news as the MLB season started that Mets closer Jeurys Familia had come up with his own customized song, “Somos Familia,” written and recorded specially for him by his favorite bachata artist (and fellow Dominican), Zacarias Ferreira. The two had connected in the offseason and Ferreira played it for Familia in spring training. It will make its debut possibly on national TV when Familia enters his first game hopefully for Mets fans, in Kansas City. If not, it will pop up at CitiField later this week.
With the ability to customize music, and the use of social media to connect with athletes and artists so prevalent, do we have a growing trend here? Should labels and artists target more MLB players to break new tunes, even ones customized to them? The fan-written anthems for teams are not that new…anyone remember “Go New York Go “ from the Knicks great run in the 1980’s…but customized, and sharable songs for MLB players to use each and every day during the long baseball season is intriguing. There will be controversy if the player does not do well, and there can be some flap if the songs are a little off center as well. How about teams, maybe some enterprising MiLB or Indy teams…coming up with contests not just to pick songs, but to have fans write and record, with and without lyrics, songs for players to approve. Fans have so much access to detail of players likes and dislikes these days, it could be great fun.
The payoff? First it is sponsorable by any host of smart and fast thinking brands looking for a little extra bang for their buck. Second, it further connects sports and music, and depending on rights issues, can even become a collectable or a charity program if you reach critical mass. Third, it becomes a great showcase for any host of young artists looking to break through. Fourth, it can create some great storylines for players, and even coaches, on their likes and dislikes as well as their traditions in and around the game. Lastly, it’s expandable to other sports as well, although there is no sport the music plays better or more diversely to, than baseball.
Will the custom music trend catch on? We shall see. One thing is for sure, baseball is a game of superstitions, and if the tailored song works for the Mets closer, look for it to grow.