Stadium music has some basic parameters. Work within them and you’ll keep the fans, umpires and neighbors happy. Once you get the basics down, then you can tool around with your playlists and really start to have some fun!
Let’s start with timing. There are right and wrong times to play music in a baseball environment. Some stadiums have their own traditions that differ but, generally speaking, these are the methods that will keep you out of hot water with the officiating crew. It’s a long day for them too and having to wait for you to turn off the music gets downright exhausting when you’re dressed in black and carrying extra weight in padding.
When to play music
During pitching changes
When not to play music
During injury time outs
Any time the pitcher is in the windup
Any time a batter steps into the box
Walk up music is for just that time, walking up to the plate. As soon as the batter’s foot hits the inside of the box, turn it off. Don’t make the umpire ask you to do it. It should be automatic. Think of it like the count on the scoreboard. Imagine how happy the crew chief would be if they had to ask you to post balls and strikes every other batter.
Energy is everything when it comes to stadium playlists. Songs that are easy to sing along to – because they are well known or have simply lyrics to learn – are perfect.
Short songs mean more music over the course of the day. The more you can play, the more likely you are to gain the interest of the fans and keep them entertained between innings.
Rotate your playlist regularly. Especially during tournaments, a consistent playlist will really stand out to those in attendance. Day one it’s interesting but by the end of the 5th game, they’ll be ready for some variety.
Vulgar lyrics are a firm don’t. Even if they are in a different language, someone in the stands will understand them. On the off chance that is not the case, there are still kids around and the music should reflect that environment.
There are plenty of upbeat songs that don’t have bad words. Another option is to use the radio-friendly cuts as alternatives to the vulgar editions of a song. All popular songs have them.
For songs with great, clean choruses and rhythm but questionable lyrics, cut a version of the chorus and use it for between batters if your stadium plays music during this time.
Avoid songs with a definitively mellow or hardcore tempo. While there is nothing wrong with these genres our goal is to bring the energy level in the stadium up, give the fans something to relax their brain between all that concentration they do looking through the fence, watching every pitch. Music on either end of the extreme spectrum risks unnerving someone or simply keeping them from being motivated to get up and move around. Movement is not only good for the fan, it keeps their body circulating, but it’s good for sales as well. “I’m already up, guess I’ll go get a hot dog.”
Try not to play the songs from the batting walk up list during the breaks. Walk up music becomes engrained in people’s minds. It is a cue as to who is coming to the plate. Playing it between innings can be confusing to the person out of site of the field, at concessions or the toilets for example.
Besides, if a player is in the game, we’re going to hear the walk up song at least three times anyway. Is there really a need to play it again? There is too much great music in the world to limit your fans this way.
For full songs find versions that are under three minutes. This allows you to play the full song through between innings. No need to leave your guests with earworms. Spotify even came up with a playlist for you of 60 recordings.
Beat & Mix
Every game your playlist should balance out to accommodate the full spectrum of your audience. We recommend a mix of 50% from the modern era, 10% 80s, 10% 60s, the rest have fun – indie is great. Do some unexpected stuff.
Remember, music is not just pop. Toss in anything that has a solid beat and is likely to energize the crowd. It takes a lot of energy to sit still in the sun all afternoon. Give them a reason go get up and stretch their legs and forget about the heat for a minute. Songs from Ain’t Going Down to Fight for Your Right to R.E.S.P.E.C.T. are unexpected, high-energy songs that never go out of style.
Cultural music, like polkas accordion and organ music, are a once-a-game must. Keep the traditions running through to the next generation. Baseball is a game filled with tradition. There is a responsibility to pass it on.
Creating Ballpark Traditions
Some stadiums have their own theme songs. You’ve seen it with the Red Sox and Sweet Caroline. In The Netherlands, the Neptunus have adopted the tradition of playing this song in the 8th. The World Port Tournament in Rotterdam also plays the Neil Diamond classic during their 8th inning. This stems from the Neptunus tradition because their music guy, scoreboard operator and announcer all work together at the tournament as well.
When Dutch singing legend André Hazes passed away in 2004, two of the teams from his motherland decided an eternal tribute was the best way to pay homage. In the 5th inning of any L&D Amsterdam Pirates game you’ll hear a Hazes song. At Pim Mulier Stadium in Haarlem, they have created a very special tradition. Every 8th inning, the music person plays De vlieger. The audience listens until the chorus then joins in. The PA is then turned off while the fans finish the song through the chorus. During Haarlem Baseball Week, the umpires indulged the tradition taking extra time to wipe off the plate, and check the balls, to allow the fans to sing through before resuming play. It is such a well-known tradition that, during Honkbalweek 2016, when the PA unexpectedly cut out due to technical issues, the fans knew just what to do.
Lucky for you, music is one of those things that some people can’t get enough of. The only thing they love more than listening to music is compiling lists of their favorites and making playlists they think are perfect. To help you get started, we’ve found some of these lists and included them for you to check out.
Baseball Stadium Review’s list includes songs for pitching changes, rain delays, walks and stolen bases as well as a top 20 all time to be played list.
MLB has a list of music each stadium plays. Click the logo and you’re directed to the stadium’s very own music page!
We’ve even uploaded some of the office favorites from our personal music libraries to give you a head start. The genres and eras are all over the place and there is no order to the list so have some fun listening to a few favorites and learning a few you never knew would make your classic list.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Find a few spots where others have done the work then cherry pick your favorites and soon your personalized playlist will be too long, even for a double header with extra innings!