Does Loud Music Increase Attendance or Hurt Your Brand?

Ask people who remember the Olden Dayes of sporting events and they’ll tell you about guys like Jimmy Holmstrom who used to play the organ at Maple Leaf Gardens.

That was it.  No blasting Marilyn Manson songs or hip-hop beats.  Just a guy at an organ.

Things have changed, obviously.  It’s assumed that crowds need and want loud music to go along with their hockey/basketball/football/baseball/whatever.

But marketing dude Seth Godin wonders if this is a good idea.  From his blog:

The new arena in Newark is purpose-designed to pump as much distortion-free sound into the seats as possible—and they’re not afraid to use it at any opportunity.

Noise/music/distraction is as much a marketing choice as your logo or the coupons you use. When the harried clerk at the Delta counter starts yelling into the PA system, that’s marketing as well.

The calculation (if it gets made at all) is a complex one. How will this investment in speakers and amps translate into increased attendance? (or sausage sales?)

When you turn the stadium into a real-life video game, when the audience can’t hear the players or the skates on the ice, you will no doubt attract an audience—but they will be the drive-by masses, not the lifetime fans. The choice to delight the masses at the expense of the diehards seems easy in the short run, but it’s ultimately crippling to the future of the brand.

Good point.  Never thought of it.  Does he have a point?


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “Does Loud Music Increase Attendance or Hurt Your Brand?

  • August 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Yes, he does. Go to a football match in Europe, big difference, better fans. Of course even that's changing with the americanisation of the 'brands' but there's still huge attendances at lower leagues that prove the point.

  • August 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Apparently the intense reaction to loud music, whether it's arena music or Megadeth, is rooted in the fact that it mimics the distress calls of wild animals. So it's just tapping into something that's primal.

  • August 17, 2012 at 1:39 am

    The NBA tried doing "silent nights" a few years back – an experiment to see what the atmosphere would be like with less music. Here's what Mark Cuban said about it:

    "So we added microphones to the floor so the entire arena could hear the sneakers squeaking on the court. We turned up the mics on the rim, so the arena could hear the grunts and guys talking on the defensive side. We brought in the Maniaacs to clap and cheer and encourage the fans to get involved. It didnt work. The energy wasnt there. We got far more complaints than compliments."



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