Not sure if you’ve been watching much ESPN this week, but if you have, you may have noticed a new set of songs being played during highlights. Those tunes are from Bruce Springsteen’s new album, and in what’s becoming a growing trend, music companies are coming to ESPN asking for the network’s help. Via Sports Business Daily….

Columbia Records, Springsteen’s label, initiated contact with ESPN about how it could incorporate the Boss’ music from the new CD into football highlights leading up to the Super Bowl. “This all kind of came about nicely,” ESPN Dir of Music Kevin Wilson said. “We were talking about the idea that Bruce was a possibility and then they reached out.” With Springsteen already slated to perform at halftime of Sunday’s game, the combination of the two seemed natural. Wilson: “They talked to us also about the interest for us to maybe include some of his catalog songs and we brought the concept back to production. They thought it was a great idea. Between us and Sony (Columbia’s parent company), they helped get the deal done with Bruce.”

Wilson said the network does not “have a specific genre in mind” in regards to using music but admits there are “certain sounds that seem to fit sports better than others.” “We usually reach out and say, ‘We’re just looking for a couple acts and a handful of songs … to bed our [programming with],’” Wilson said. “Then see what they come back with or we have ideas on our own.” Deals with music labels can include the use of one band’s music or access to a larger library of music, but ESPN Coordinating Dir of Music Claude Mitchell said instead of specific labels, it is “what we can provide to our shows that’s the key in what we look for.” “We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve been able to find good ways to bring value to our label partners and the artists. At the same time, we’re getting good artists we want to be on the network to work with our sports and shows,” Mitchell said.

Makes sense on both ends, and if it gets us to here new stuff and not the old elevator music that ESPN has used in the past, I’m all for it. It’s odd to think that record companies would now be approaching ESPN instead of MTV, but that’s what happens when you turn into a reality show channel.

ESPN Diving Into Using Music With Content (Sports Business Daily – $)

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