exclusive Features July 11, 2018

Ahead of the ball – Musica Copa & Nike on cross-industry collaboration

Former Assistant Editor
Ahead of the ball – Musica Copa & Nike on cross-industry collaboration

Traditionally, jocks and musicians have been like oil and water.

You’ve all seen American Pie’s Band Camp, right?

Talk to any school band alumni and ask them about their relationship with the footy team. Probably not the very best of friends.

Martin Novosel – (founder of Purple Sneakers and artist manager) and Paul Stix (founder of UNDR Ctrl) – are bridging the two worlds with Musica Copa.

Interestingly, the merge of music and sport goes far beyond schoolyard truces – it’s the latest cross-industry marketing opportunity, and Musica Copa are – pardon the pun – ahead of the ball.

Novosel tells TMN of his upbringing, in which his Croatian immigrant parents pushed him to learn musical instruments despite his early protestation.

First of all they made me play piano, and I wasn’t really great at it,” he remembers with a laugh. Apparently, he wasn’t so crash hot at the guitar, either.

“But the whole time, being Croatian, we played soccer, and so that was the one thing that was constant…. I was a lot more sporty than I was musical, I guess.”

After playing in various football teams and competitions alongside other music industry people for a number of years – which included playing with artists like Young Franco, Montaigne, and with people from organisations like Future Classic, Sweat It Out, I Oh You, Stoney Roads and others – Stix and Novosel had a brainwave: “Well, why don’t we start a music industry football tournament for charity?”

Drawing inspiration from similar music industry events in the UK, where they’d previously partaken in games against the likes of Basement Jaxx and Dizzee Rascal, he wanted to do the concept justice, “so not just like a kick-around-in-the-park.

“We definitely wanted to make it something proper, like an institution that happens annually, that everyone looks forward to, and we wanted to do it with a purpose.

“That’s kind of where we came up with the tagline: Music, Sport, Charity; because it ties in the three elements that we strongly believe in.”

Now heading into its 6th year, Musica Copa has raised well over $60,000 for various charities and is expanding to include 21 teams of blue-chip industry workers comprised of members from the major and indie labels, artists, major music brands like Spotify and MTV and more.

“It’s a social day, rather than a competitive day,” he enthuses.

“It’s so fun seeing people come together, but not for an award ceremony and not for business –  people are still talking shop… but at the same time they’re just having a couple of beers in the hand and having a burger and watching their friends fall over on the pitch.”

The event garnered support from big brand names right from inception, thanks to the pair’s strong ties to companies like Nike through their other ventures – Novosel has been a Nike brand ambassador wearing his other hat at Purple Sneakers.

And then that relationship evolved.

Seeing the benefit of using artists as influencers, Musica Copa were selected by Nike to curate the musical component of their Socceroos Play Gold Campaign in the lead up to the World Cup.  

Nike’s brief was to find artists who were genuine football fans to perform at the Play Gold campaign launch event, and to roll out seeding the Socceroos’ jersey to musicians and influencers.

It was a natural evolution of our relationship with Musica Copa. The team are massive football heads and have amazing relationships with Australian musicians,” said Nick Atkinson, brand manager, Nike Football/Nike Pacific.

… Often finding out that someone is a massive fan or plays three times a week outside of music is tough to uncover, especially if they don’t ‘gram about it!

“The boys were able to help us find those people who best reflect an intersection of Australian music and football culture and who genuinely love the sport.”

Novosel added that, as a brand, Nike are very aware of the influence that creatives have.

“This is me putting my marketing hat on,” he muses, “but if you keep sending the same message and drumming the same message into people, like, ‘Sport, sport, sport, sport, sport’, people over time will switch off.

“But if you can mix it up with creative messages, like for example, putting on events that have sport and music combined, they understand that you’ve gotta have music in the background.”

He explains that, despite the old stereotypes, the music and sporting worlds intersect more than we realise.

We run with music, every gym or yoga class has its own playlist, big music acts are being booked to draw diverse crowds to every kind of sporting event, whether it’s the World Cup, the Olympics or the local races.

“I feel like music has always been there. It’s more just about the industry side of things and the marketing side of things catching up to that,” explains Novosel.

“I feel like [sport brands] are the ones with the resources and so they tend to execute things a lot better than the music industry does, as a general rule, because the music industry is less resourced.”

“Nike Football has always got to have a soundtrack and we know how important music is to the ballers, so mixing the two goes without saying,” adds Atkinson.

“The possibilities are endless and only limited by imagination! Music will always play a role in football and is such a powerful contributor to performance – we’d like to explore that intersection more deeply.”

Out of a shortlist of 20 acts, Montaigne, Peking Duk and up-and-comer, SIPPY, were chosen for the campaign.

“Definitely the idea of getting an emerging artist on board who was also a genuine football fan was important to [Nike],” said Novosel. “It’s such a great profile raising opportunity.”

“SIPPY has been Nike Football’s DJ of choice for some time and we love her music and passion for football,” said Atkinson.  

“Montaigne has worked with Nike before but not really in a football capacity. Her dad was a player and she’s a gun on the pitch herself. We love her! And the Peking Duk boys were a no-brainer and it was really fun getting to know Adam and Reuben.”

Over 40 musicians also received personalised Socceroos jerseys in limited edition Play Gold boxes and headed along to the launch of the 2018 kit.

“I think the commonalities are more interesting than the differences and show why the two worlds are so complimentary,” explains Atkinson.  

“Both music and sport deeply blend art and science, both are full of individuals striving to be the very best – both celebrate the power of teams, both are accessible to all, both industries are powered by diversity, and both worlds are responsible for creating some of the most important cultural moments in history.

“When they intersect, the result can be incredibly powerful.”

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