The World Cup and Pop Music: A Perfect Pitch


With 30-man rosters announced, team camps kicking off, and send-off matches quickly approaching, World Cup hype is in full swing.  The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil will certainly captivate the attention of people around the world, despite the protests of Brazilian citizens and the slowly developing infrastructure.  More people will be able to access each match on various platforms, making it quite possibly the most viewed World Cup to date.

With the built-in exhilaration of the tournament and the long history of soccer in Brazil, the World Cup needs almost no additional marketing to find financial success.  Despite these financial expectations, FIFA has found yet another way to cash-in on the hype surrounding the quadrennial event.  On April 8th, FIFA released its official soundtrack, featuring seventeen tracks and fifteen different artists.  The official 2014 FIFA World Cup song is international artist Pitbull’s “We Are One (Ole Ola)”.  The album also features other prominent artists including Shakira, Aloe Blacc, Ricky Martin, and Santana.  The album, available for $9.99 on iTunes, has a heavy Latin influence and with each track delivers a high energy and fast-rhythm beat for fans to remember the World Cup in Brazil.

The release of this official album came almost as no surprise to many, almost as if FIFA had released entire albums devoted to the World Cup for several tournaments.  In actuality, the 2014 official World Cup album is only the second World Cup album released.   FIFA has had a long history of marketing one official song for the World Cup, dating all the way back to the 1962 in Chile.  FIFA’s marketing strategy looks to embrace a larger fan-base with the release of the album and increased profits through sales on iTunes.

The release of the World Cup album may be a strategy to attract casual sports fans in America to the summer tournament.  Since soccer in the United States is in a crowded sports landscape, many Americans might not be aware of or invested in watching the World Cup.  Having tastemakers such as Pitbull and Shakira call attention to the World Cup, Americans might follow suit.  If this creates new interest in the World Cup, fans may not even need to purchase the album for FIFA to gain profits.

FIFA is not the only group to try to use music to gain support and boost profits.  US Soccer announced its partnership with Chicago native and Grammy Award-winning Lupe Fiasco on May 20th.  Lupe Fiasco will be the Music Director in the US Men’s National Team (USMNT), managing the stadium music in each of the three games that the team plays in the “Send-Off Series” prior to the World Cup.  US Soccer also stated Lupe Fiasco will promote his new single “Mission” in the Send-Off Series.  In this symbiotic relationship, both Fiasco and US Soccer benefit from the partnership, each gaining exposure to their respective products.

US Soccer has used other methods of connecting fans to the US Men’s and Women’s National Teams.  In March, US Soccer announced it would allow fans to listen to the same music that the USNT listens to 30 minutes prior to their games on Spotify, a free web service which allows subscribers to listen to any music on a series of media platforms.  Lupe Fiasco will also use Spotify to create playlists of his own dedicated to the USMNT on their road to Brazil.

The artists and music selected by FIFA and US Soccer shows that organizations are looking to target a younger audience. Most professional American sports leagues will attempt to target a younger market in an effort to gain life-long fans. The older generation of soccer fans may not necessarily identify with artists such as Pitbull.  However, the older generation of soccer fans most likely does not see a connection between popular music and the World Cup; for them, the tournament alone is simply enough.

Both FIFA and US Soccer have recognized the power and influence of musical artists and the impact they can have on younger generations.  With social media platforms such as Twitter, Spotify, Instagram, etc. musicians and artists become extremely influential.  Look for organizations such as FIFA and US Soccer to continue to use these artists as tools to attract fans to soccer and distribute their product through a wide variety of platforms.

If these plans are as successful as anticipated, FIFA and US Soccer will be singing their marketing praises all the way to the bank.

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.