- The National Basketball Association (NBA) partnered with music startup UnitedMasters to feature the music of up-and-coming recording artists in game-highlight videos posted to social media, according to a league announcement. Select videos will have soundtracks and tags showing the song and artist names, along with a link to more information.
- The league will show the videos on its interactive media properties including NBA.com, the NBA app and league and team social accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and Snapchat, which have 1.5 a collective billion followers. Jeff Marsilio, SVP of new media distribution at the NBA, said the deal gives artists a "massive digital stage" to share their music.
- Founded by former Interscope Record president Steve Stoute, UnitedMasters launched last year with $70 million in funding from investors such as Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz and 21st Century Fox. The startup's Releases portal lets recording artists upload music files and album artwork to the UnitedMasters website, which delivers the content to streaming services and digital music marketplaces in exchange for a 5% commission on royalties, according to Billboard.
The NBA's partnership with UnitedMasters looks like a win-win for the sports league and the music startup, which seeks to give recording artists a distribution platform that doesn't compromise their creative freedom. By soundtracking highlight videos across social media with independent artists, the NBA can sidestep major label licensing deals while delivering independent music to its target audience. Delivering pertinent highlights and music could be key to appealing to Gen Z males, more than half (52%) of whom now prefer nontraditional sports content.
The UnitedMasters platform allows brands to market directly to music fan audiences, according to TechCrunch. Recording artists are seeking brand partnerships for revenue streams that aren't coming from music licensing. As hip-hop has become the most popular music genre in the U.S., brands have partnered with its artists to appeal to younger consumers. Brands like Sprite have also tapped into the hip-hop music world, striking deals with Drake and Vince Staples, while Nautica, Forever 21 and Hollister partner with other popular artists. Reebok, Nokia, Budweiser and Puma Basketball are among the brands that have partnered with Jay-Z during his lengthy career, according to Rolling Stone, signaling that the NBA's new musical focus is in line with other brands' strategies of connecting with younger consumers through music.
The NBA and its teams have worked with a variety of sponsors on social media campaigns. The Los Angeles Clippers this week launched a #strongerwithher campaign at a home game as part of its three-year, $20 million sponsorship deal with dating app Bumble, which lets women initiate contact with men. The campaign urges Clippers fans to honor women who have a positive effect on their lives, according to CNN.