I recently wrote an article called, THE MUSIC BUSINESS, MUSIC EDUCATION, AND THE MIDDLEMAN: Copyrights, Your Rights, Their Rights & Tresona. In it, I spoke about the perils of music educators across the country as we deal with the copyright issues surrounding licensing of musical arrangements. The company at the center of it all is Tresona Media. Tresona is a licensing company hired by music publishers to enforce copyright laws. They have been known to threaten schools with lawsuits for not complying with their “requests”. As a result many schools are beginning to explore different options when it comes to how they approach entertainment at sporting events.

One new option is limiting the music marching bands play. Of course this will forever change the culture of the college gameday experience, however there is a legitimate argument for this approach amongst university officials. Why pay individual licenses on band arrangements when you can pay a general licensing fee through BMI, ASCAP, or any music publisher and let the DJ jam away during timeouts and throughout the game. As my previous article stated, publishers already have this system in place for colleges and universities:

BMI License Fees For Colleges & Universities.


Then there’s the issue of “enriching the game day experience.” As highlighted in this recent article, Pump up the volume! Gamecocks add live DJ to Williams-Brice experience, the University of South Carolina (USC) Senior Associate Athletics Director for Marketing and Branding, Eric Nichols, believes that adding a DJ to the game day environment will add “excitement” and help with the overall experience which will, in turn, improve recruitment.

Pre-kick off video and SANDSTORM which is the DJ selected, fan adopted, school hype song.


“Our music wasn’t where it needed to be. It just wasn’t resonating with any segment of the fan base. It needed a refresh. The new DJ will provide that refresh,” “Everyone’s pulling the same direction that recruiting is our No. 1 focus. With that being the direction, it’s a natural fit.” “It’s not like we’re going to play music between every play, but we will be learning from Game 1 to Game 7 what resonates with the fans and the players, I expect it to be very positive. The music is an area that we needed to improve, and we are putting human resources and financial resources into making it better.”, said NicholsI don’t want to speak for the educators on the band staff at USC, but I’m sure these weren’t the statements they would have preferred to read at the start of this discussion.

The article went on to state that the DJ will play all of pregame, anytime during a timeout the band is not playing, and could interject music between plays. Like the band has so many opportunities to play under the current NCAA rules that they don’t mind giving up those few seconds to the DJ..Smh..

Many Div-I and DivII schools already find themselves sharing time with the DJ at big sporting events. Is it true that younger audiences prefer the DJ to the pageantry and tradition of college gameday? According to this marketing director, it already is the preferred form of entertainment. What happened in the dance halls and party clubs around the country when live instrumental music was phased out to make room for the, less expensive, DJ is happening here. It’s cheaper to pay one person than to outfit a, 284 member, marching band and the newly enforced copyright laws on musical arrangements is not helping the issue either. It’s only a matter of time before the smaller conferences start to take the same actions and use the larger conferences as justification for it. That’s basically how everything works in college football. So HBCUs and the Div-II or Div-III bands that play the radio tunes and hip hop selections are safe right?… Not if Tresona has anything to say about it. Music Education is being sandwiched in between two very large financial institutions: College Football and the Music Industry and when that happens money wins because money makes things happen in America. When you have it, things happen (mostly positively) and when you don’t have it, things happen (mostly negatively) and, unfortunately, music education is never at the front of the line at the bank.

What are your thoughts?…do you see us heading in this direction?

Published by Ernest Stackhouse

-Music Educator -Marching Band Show Design -Musical Arranger -Adjudicator -Fine Arts Administrator -Band Director -Writer

6 thoughts on “COULD THE DJ REPLACE THE COLLEGE MARCHING BAND? Don’t Laugh So Quickly At The Thought…

  1. Great Article – however,

    The ASCAP/BMI fees actually cover college bands – it says so in their link

    “The BMI Music License for Colleges and Universities covers, but is not limited to, live or recorded performances by or at the college or university’s:

    Internet or Intranet sites or services including webcasts of campus radio station broadcasts
    Regular campus radio broadcasts
    Cable TV Systems
    Sporting events
    Student unions
    Musical attractions (promoted solely by the college)
    Fitness centers
    Athletic facilities
    College bands
    College theater groups
    College orchestras
    Special events such as orientation and graduation
    This license does not include:

    Performances of music via any form of televised transmission, whether over-the-air broadcast, cable, satellite or otherwise;
    Dramatic rights (as defined in paragraph 2 of the agreement);
    Performances of music by a coin-operated phonorecord player (jukebox);
    Musical attractions on campus promoted by outside promoters;
    Musical attractions occurring outside of the premises, except as part of community outreach and educations activities;
    Performances by commercial radio stations”

    1. Hey Ron,
      Thanks for the support! I agree that the BMI/ASCAP fees cover college bands. Ive brought attention to that as well, in a previous article. But there is a “grey area”… Does that license cover performances or musical arrangements? There’s never a situation where both are covered by one license so when our institutions pay that BMI license, what are they licensing? I’d bet it’s performance rights and Tresona will come snooping around for that arrangement license when the band performs it… Or that mechanical license when they record it on CD… Or that sequencing license when they record video…. Crazy…

      1. Ernest – Understand your points.

        I don’t have time to write a response right now, but will in the future.

        GREAT TOPIC!


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