Music has become one of the most important parts of all-star cheerleading culture. From the beginning, cheer music’s unique style has energized athletes and fans alike. As cheerleading has evolved over the years, so has music and those who produce it.
Back in the day, most cheerleading music included hard cuts of music from the radio with a few sound effects thrown in. Due to changing styles and rule changes, music today is much more custom and is focused on quality. And at the same time, rising costs are top of mind.
New Rules Changed the Game
After the music rules changed at the end of the 2015-2016 season, the industry went through a bit of a shock. Cheerleading mixes without songs from the radio were unheard of. And while most tracks were almost fully custom, they always included at least one familiar song. But to be honest, music hasn’t suffered all that much and there are a few different reasons and producers to thank for that.
We talked to a few of all-star cheerleading’s most popular music producers to learn what to expect for the 2017-2018 season. Here’s what they had to say.
Producers Find Their New Groove
Last year after the rules changed, many producers were caught off guard. Lawsuits from major record labels forced music producers and cheerleading brands to change the way they created music. For years, music producers would simply hop on iTunes, download a few tracks, and use them in their customers’ mixes. As you can imagine, record labels weren’t too happy about other businesses profiting off their copyrighted works. Now every team must prove they own the licenses to their music before they’re allowed to compete with it.
The new music rules were released in March-April 2016. When the new season rolled around, music producers quickly had to figure out how they were going to continue to make music. Bowd Beal, a music producer for Go Fight Win Music, said “All of the sudden, most producers had to find new sources, find new inspiration, new mixes, rappers, people who had gone to school for musical engineering. I really had to grow my musical pallet.”
Both music producers and gyms were scrambling to find licensed work and figuring out the next steps.
Bowd also mentioned that not all producers were in the same situation. Some producers relied heavily on previously recorded music, while others like JR from We Are Cheer Music and Patrick from New Level Music were already producing nearly fully custom music.
This year, we expect to see cheer music take it up a notch with even higher quality sounds from a wide range of producers.
More Customization and Originality
All-star cheerleading is a young sport, and like anything, it takes time to mature. Music has made leaps and bounds over the years, largely led by the creative efforts of a handful of producers.
As we mentioned in our 3 Trends to Expect This Year, music will continue to get more creative and help build the WOW factor in routines. Music has the ability to make crowds go insane and really kick it up a notch.
Take for example Stingray Allstars Peach, whose “I heard you want peach back!” Voiceover rang through the hp Field House at Worlds 2017 finals, or World Cup Shooting Stars whose claps before stunts had everyone debating online for weeks…. Was it 3 or was it 4? (It’s 4, guys.)
Patrick Avard from New Level Music made both of those mixes and this year he told us:
“I think you are going to see music really evolve this year. I expect to see more originality than ever before!”
And anyone who’s familiar with Patrick’s work knows we’re in for another year of truly bop-able music.
Steven from IPP Music also says he sees a huge demand for totally original content. “The use of in-house vocalists to voice an entire mix is becoming more and more sought after. This starts to separate the music hobbyists from the real producers, said Steven. As more producers expand their skills and services, well-produced music will become the norm.
A Price War and New Methods of Creating Music
With the new music rules forcing music producers to spend more money on creating their tracks, it’s driving up prices. Bowd told us that a music producer could get away with spending as little as $20 on new music and using it in a bunch of different mixes. That combined with a Bluetooth microphone and a computer was all you needed to get started. But now producers need professional level equipment just to stay in the mix. This has caused many music producers to increase their prices, which some programs have willingly paid, while others have started to seek out different solutions.
Steven from IPP Music says that he has seen a lot of clients sacrifice quality over price. It’s no secret that cheerleading is extremely expensive and the people who are shelling out the money (programs, parents, etc.) are getting nickel and dimed for everything. Athlete competition fees, competition entrance fees, tuition, choreography, and uniforms costs continue to push people to their breaking points.
“This new trend has caused a knee jerk reaction for some production companies who had to immediately lower prices,” said Steven, “In many cases, lower prices equals lower quality.”
Steven says a wave of new music producers have entered the market and are undercutting others. There are also new solutions for music that allow gym owners and coaches to make their own music. The DIY model is lucrative to those looking to cut costs, but they’ll likely have limited options available to them.
It’s an interesting trend to witness. At on one end of the spectrum, you have a wave of clients who want fully custom mixes with original music, well-known talent, and are willing to pay the price. But on the other hand, you have budget-conscious teams who refuse to pay the high prices that many traditional producers need to in order to operate. Like in any business, customers will always have varying wants and needs. Some just need a mix to get them through the season and others want custom voice overs that an entire arena can get into.
And here we are
All I know for certain is that we’re definitely in store for another season of great music that we’ll be listening to on repeat.