The NFL is expanding its footprint in the music business, in a surprising way.
Via Jason Reid of ESPN.com, the league has hired Jay Z’s Roc Nation to “lead the league’s endeavors in music and entertainment.”
Roc Nation, which represents players like Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley, will advise the NFL on the selection of the Super Bowl musical acts. The company also will be involved in the production and promotion of new music by the league.
And that’s where this gets intriguing from a business standpoint. The NFL is essentially partnering with Jay-Z to produce music, expanding the league’s footprint well beyond football.
It actually makes sense. With the biggest musical platform in the world coming between the second and third quarter of every annual NFL championship game, it’s one thing to squeeze the selected acts for a slice of the boost they experience. It’s quite another to own the acts themselves, and thus to get the whole damn pie.
Of course, that’s not how it’s being sold, even if that’s the long-term goal.
“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay-Z said, via Reid. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”
“Roc Nation is one of the most globally influential and impactful organizations in entertainment,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said, according to Reid. “The NFL and Roc Nation share a vision of inspiring meaningful social change across our country. We are thrilled to partner with Roc Nation and look forward to making a difference in our communities together.”
With quarterback Colin Kaepernick still ignored by the NFL, however, those words ring hollow.
Jay-Z has described Kaepernick as an “iconic figure,” and it’s tempting to wonder whether Jay-Z sought unofficial assurances that the blackballing of Kaepernick will be coming to an end. With Kaepernick still making clear his desire to return to the NFL, any decision by Jay-Z to partner with the NFL absent a commitment by the NFL to unshun Kaepernick may not have the impact that the NFL envisions.