This NOT an update on Drake’s sideline antics! Haha don’t worry, this is worth your time.
If you watched last night’s Raptor-Warriors game, you probably heard ScHoolboy Q’s “Floating” in the commercials. ABC and ESPN made his new track the official theme song for the NBA Finals. Yesterday, the 32-year-old rapper also performed alongside YG at an ESPN-hosted concert in Manhattan.
It’s great publicity for Q, who just dropped a new album and had no shame about his quest to top the Billboard charts. The “Collard Greens” rapper publicly asked J. Cole for the name of the machine that boosts fake streams! What a trip.
I doubt Cole told Q about the machine for obvious reasons, but he might have convinced him to push for the NBA’s prime placement instead. J. Cole’s song “ATM” was prominently featured in last year’s playoffs. The Dreamville rapper also performed at this year’s NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte.
NBA exposure will always be valued, especially in the Finals. Last year, companies paid between $600,000 to $800,000 for a 30-second ad in the championship round. That’s also why UnitedMasters built its indie artist service around its partnership with NBA digital properties. The distribution company tweeted the following yesterday:
The @nba featured songs by UnitedMasters artists in their content over 200 times this season.
— UnitedMasters (@unitedmasters) May 30, 2019
The process to become the “official” song of the playoffs/finals is interesting. Two years ago, Complex interviewed ESPN’s music director Kevin Wilson to learn how Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” became the soundtrack for the 2017 playoffs:
“Humble” hasn’t even been out for three weeks yet, and it’s already all over ESPN. How did this song initially land on your radar, and how were you able to work it into the rotation for the postseason so quickly?
Every year, we try to figure out what the sound for the season is, and then when the playoffs come, we try to elevate that. This year, we were going around to some of our music manager friends and label partners trying to figure out what they had coming and what could work. We heard Kendrick had an album, and we were in anticipation of hearing it. Meanwhile, other songs and albums got moved around, they didn’t work out, and luckily, we got a sneak preview of “Humble.” We fell in love with it.
You mentioned ESPN was able to get a preview of “Humble.” Does that mean you got to hear the song before the rest of us even knew it was going to be released?
It was not long before he released it. Just a little bit sooner. Kendrick’s management and label, we’ve worked with them quite a bit in the past. We’ve worked with Kendrick before. Knowing that the playoffs were coming up, they wanted us to hear it. It was kind of a group effort.
For artists who want to a song featured in the playoffs/finals, there are two factors to remember:
- Timing. Artists should drop new music in March or April to be considered:
- K.dot’s “Humble” dropped at the end of March 2017
- Cole’s KOD, which featured “ATM,” came out in April 2018.
- This year’s official playoff song—Jaden Smith’s “Noize” — dropped in April.
- Relationships. Clearly, Kendrick’s team knows how this process works and used their connections to make it happen. Everyone feels special when they get a preview before the general public. Kendrick’s network probably benefitted SchoolBoy Q, who’s also signed to TDE and is a fellow Black Hippy member.
While the NBA playoff exposure is still valuable, viewership is down 14% from last year. There are a few reasons why: This year’s playoffs were without the league’s biggest star, LeBron James. There were also smaller market teams in the conference finals that rarely advance this far (Portland and Milwaukee are in the bottom third for NBA markets), and there’s no viewership data in the Toronto market since Nielsen doesn’t track Canada. The Toronto thing might be a silver lining though. Based on population alone, Toronto should a top 6 NBA media market—larger than Golden State’s.
But despite the decline, the top placement is still dope for ScHoolboy Q. Will it quell his desires to see what that fake streams machine is talkin’ ‘bout? Probably not, but at least he’s on the right track.