Major League Soccer is unveiling a new platform over Memorial Day Weekend called MLS Summer Beat, celebrating the close connection between soccer fans' passion for music and sports.
"We're excited to experiment with this new platform," MLS chief marketing officer Howard Handler tells Billboard. "We've set up big events and a whole week of promotion in three cities to help generate some excitement around big matchups and showcase the club culture in each of those spots."
In its first year, activations are being planned for the Seattle Sounders, Atlanta United FC and the San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders will be hosting a Saturday morning concert for Robert DeLong and watch party at Occidental Park during the FA Cup finals, before leading a March to the Match at CenturyLink Field where they'll take on the Portland Timbers.
In Atlanta, United FC will host a Friday night concert with Mike WiLL Made-It and fan rally prior to their game against New York City FC on ESPN, while the Earthquakes will be hosting a pre-match Beer Festival and watch party for Mexico vs. Croatia and concert with Nortec Collective leading-in to their Cali Clasico showdown with the LA Galaxy on Univision.
The music was booked with help from Steve Schnur at Electronic Arts, developer of the popular FIFA 17 video game which includes MLS and other top-tiered soccer leagues.
"EA is a core partner of MLS and we work with them beyond the video game," Handler said. "We like to make sure that the sound of FIFA really reverberates into the whole brand of MLS. Steve helped advise and suggested certain bands. The clubs also had a hand in this because they obviously understand their fan base. It was always our belief that our clubs could be defined by some of the local music. That every one of our club markets has an interesting music scene. We've got younger multicultural fans. They've got strong opinions and we really wanted to tap into that."