The Sound of Football in a Changing World

by MassiveMusic



Sonic Zoom is a MassiveMusic series that features leading names from the worlds of brand-side marketing, branding and the international music scene. Together, we discuss the biggest trends in music for advertising and the possibilities for sonic branding to cut through the noise.

This time we were joined by football legend and four-time Champions League winner Clarence Seedorf and Rebecca Smith, Global Executive Director at COPA90 and former World Cup and Olympic footballer who has captained the New Zealand national team.

The goal? *pun very intended* To discuss the power of sound and music in football and how it can strike powerful notes as a force for good.

Many of us as kids – and maybe even as adults, invariably found ourselves daydreaming about living life as a professional footballer.

It’s easy to get lost imagining the hubbub of a pre-game dressing room, the buzz as you emerge from the tunnel and enter a cauldron of noise and passion, the hairs on your neck standing on end as iconic anthems at the game’s biggest stages ring around you. And then you wake up.

But it’s not a dream for some. A talented and dedicated few get to live this life for themselves and experience first-hand being center stage of the beautiful game. We were lucky enough to be joined by two such legends in our 2nd Sonic Zoom.

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Before getting lost in the sound of football, both us at Massive and our panelists wanted to address the #BlackLivesMatter movement and its powerful message.

As UEFA’s global ambassador for diversity and change, Clarence Seedorf is at the heart of driving meaningful change and described the movement as “not just a feeling – it’s a growing consciousness of how far away we are from where we should be. It’s not a black or white fight, it’s about humanity. People are saying ‘enough is enough’ and I feel this will last until we see real change.”

Rebecca Smith echoed Clarence’s thoughts: “People are looking for leaders, and sports role models have a huge role to play here in using their platform to drive radical change”.

The recent success by Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and his campaign for free meals for school children in the UK underlines this point nicely.

Soccer's sonic bond

“Music and football are inextricably linked – you can’t have football without music” said Rebecca to kick off our discussion. “It didn’t matter what country or what locker room I was in, there was always music, from Motown and rock growing up, to country music at university then Schlager music in Germany. As you guys say, anything from ABBA to Zappa!”

“I can definitely associate different music with different times” Clarence added.

“As I got older I found myself needing more than just music pre-game – I wanted to tap into experience. In Brazil, all the things that worked for me at AC Milan wouldn’t work. I didn’t need to hype myself up – I needed to slow myself down and become calm. I would use YouTube to listen to X Factor auditions, because I liked the story behind the songs, they triggered something and changed my mentality.”

Music and motivation

Our Global Director of Growth Charles Gadsdon asked Clarence to expand on his experience using music as a motivational tool, both as a player and a manager.

“We used music in certain specific moments to anchor certain experiences in the minds of the players. When I came into AC Milan I wanted to make radical change. So we took every opportunity to influence the mindset and the atmosphere of the team with music.”

As Bex and Clarence point out, music has the power to shape the experience of an individual or a team in the locker room. But it’s influence goes well beyond this.

It only takes the opening few notes of the Champions League anthem to mentally transport listeners to European football’s biggest stage.

“Even today, sometimes I hear the music and I jump up ready to play! I think it’s one of the most impactful songs of my career – you would always wait for this moment. It’s a psychological anchor, it definitely gives everybody, from the fans to the players the signal that it is go time.”

Men's League and Women's League

While the men’s Champions League is a premiere destination for brands and sponsorship, the women’s game still has huge room for growth.

Rebecca points out that investors should look at the numbers to get a sense of the potential for the women’s game. “Women’s football is the biggest growth area in football. Investors need to understand that while it is the same sport, it is a totally different game in many other ways. It’s highly value-based and I think that is an exciting thing for the right brands who want to really make a difference”.

“We need to appreciate women’s football for what it is.” added Clarence. “We don’t need to always make comparisons. Myself and Bex have discussed this, it’s so important for the women’s game to develop its own distinct identity and not want what the men have. Build your own market – like in tennis. There is clearly huge value in this for brands.”

Music and sports in the world

Football has a unique relationship with sound compared to other sports, Bex notes. “As someone who grew up in Los Angeles, I find it fascinating to compare the experience of US sport stadiums to football stadiums. If you go to watch the NBA or MLB, it’s all music all the time. In football it’s all about the crowd and the chants and the atmosphere that creates.”

So why do sports and music go so well together?

“It’s because they both touch your passion,” argues Bex. “It really taps into the deepest parts of who we are and how we’re feeling.”

Clarence was in agreement. “Football is emotion. It’s art. In order to perform art, you need to feel. If you listen to music, you feel it, you don’t just hear it. In football, I don’t just touch the ball, I feel it. All these things are a part of rhythm and emotion, they have the same patterns. Music and sport are powerful ways to both express yourself, and connect with people – be they teammates or fans.”

We may not all get the chance to live our childhood dreams as professional footballers. But we are all able to feel the special connection music has with the sport, bringing each of us closer to the emotion and energy of the beautiful game.

At MassiveMusic, we worked to create this ‘go time’ feeling for UEFA Europa League as well as the Premier League, creating an instantly identifiable overarching theme to connect the experience to its 2 billion viewers.

What we scored *football puns everywhere* was a contemporary and recognisable soundtrack applied to multiple touch points, ranging from rock-based alterations to electronic, to more breakbeat inversions. We helped create an original space for them to own in music that set them aside from the other leagues.

Wisdom pills, my friends. To catch the full insights from Bex and Clarence, feel free to drop us an email at You can use the same email address to ask us any questions you might have.

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