At the 2018 League of Legends World Championship, Riot Games unveiled a new virtual band, K/DA alongside its debut single ‘Pop Stars’ featuring American pop artist Madison Beer and Jaira Burns as well as Jeon So-yeon and Cho Miyeon from the six-month-old K-pop group (G)I-dle.
This turned out to be a smash hit for the company.
Not only has the song surpassed 50 million views on YouTube in just over a week but it has also over a million likes and peaked at #2 on YouTube trending’s page while simultaneously being in iTunes top five in the Pop category and #1 in K-pop.
This has also helped the channel gain approximately 354,000 new subscribers in ten days. This single has helped gain thousands of new and old players to the game.
But why is this important?
Music is an essential piece to people’s lives and people would be willing to listen to it if it satisfies them no matter where it is from. That’s why Overwatch got DJ Kahled to perform at the Overwatch League Final and why Riot Games have been creating world anthems since 2014 with Warriors by Imagine Dragons being the first.
It is not only to grow the artists and performers fanbase but also their own through the media showing these performers at the events; it is a two-way street. This is a perfect way to grow both audiences which seems that only the esports scene has tapped into.
Traditional sports such as NRL and AFL have started to realise the importance of music through getting artist to perform already existing songs during the pregame and postgame. Most notable examples include: Cold Chisel, The Killers and Macklemore.
But why are songs like ‘Rise’ and ‘Pop Stars’ popular?
The answer is simple. They are new and serve a purpose by telling a story or promoting something new.
People die for new and original content, especially if it is mind-blowing.
Take both these songs for example. Both written by Riot Games composer Sebastian Najand while also collaborating with new and upcoming artists while the music videos created by Fortiche Production.
One tells a story of Worlds last year as well as being the slogan for this year and the other promotes in game content while also appealing to the local Korean audience in attendance at the World Championship.
The combination of both audio and visuals have driven the success levels through the roof. They would not be the same by themselves. This is the key and blue print to success, not reproducing; but creating and providing the same story in different forms of media.
So how can traditional sports use this to their advantage?
Traditional sports are half way there, but it is a matter of who will be willing to take a risk and produce some new content.
Traditional sporting codes as well as broadcasters will very rarely have a full-time composer on their roster. This will likely call for a freelance composer or a high-profile band that is willing to create a new song for them. And while most traditional sports don’t have the same demographic as Esports they have the same platforms and ways to promote whether it be through advertising, the broadcast, their website, their socials or their catch-up TV platforms and some sort of big event like a final.
Arguably traditional sport broadcasters have the means to do it however it is a question of whether it will actually happen.