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Sounds of The Super Bowl: How Music In Ads Have Changed, And What Stays The Same

Songtradr analysis finds Rock still rules, but HipHop is taking share

The Super Bowl is just two weeks away, and that means everyone is looking forward to the ads set to air during the biggest TV event of the year.

But just as important as which stars will make an appearance in those ads, or how many will be funny vs sentimental, is the music they contain. Here are a few notes to look for based on an analysis of music trends in Super Bowl ads over the years conducted by Songtradr.

The Rise of HipHop
Any concerns brands may have once had about leaning into hip-hop music or culture as part of their brand identity seem to have largely faded. According to a Songtradr analysis of the music genres used in Super Bowl ads over the last 10 years, HipHop has increased in frequency steadily in that time.

While Rock is still the most popular overall, the chart below clearly shows that hip-hop is eating into that dominance from an ad-focus perspective.

What’s Old is New Again
Another Songtradr analysis showed that among 2022’s most-liked Super Bowl ads, 85% featured songs released many years ago rather than new releases. Clearly, brands prefer to license what’s known in the music biz as “catalog” tracks over new releases.

Why? Several reasons come to mind.

For starters, there’s the social trend of reaction videos of people listening to Classic Rock tunes like Led Zeppelin or AC/DC for the first time in their life. These have gone viral and launched a new appreciation for older music. The use of Classic Rock tracks in particular in popular movies like the Marvel franchise just adds to the momentum.

Also, older music is more recognizable by a larger number of people. And with an event like the Super Bowl that has the widest spectrum of viewers imaginable, you want to get the most bang for your buck. Age shouldn’t play a factor for advertisers for their music choice for the Super Bowl, as, the amount of avid fans of the NFL barely moves the needle from the age of 18 to 65+.

But there’s a strategic factor involved as well. Songtradr analyzed the post-game activity around those older songs used in the ads, and found that catalog songs received far greater spikes in streams and Shazam IDs than newer music did. This suggests that the ad was directly responsible for that post-game engagement, each of which at least in part delivered a degree of ad (and brand) recall with each play.

Songtradr is the world's largest full-stack B2B music platform helping brands, content creators, and digital platforms find their voice and connect with audiences through music. Whether with a classic song or a trending tune, a global music strategy or a sonic identity, we help translate ideas into powerful, ROI-driven solutions that always hit the right note.

Our fully integrated suite of products and solutions simplifies the process of finding, licensing and managing music across all formats. The result reduces cost and complexity, increases consistency and compliance, and elevates the full potential of music catalogs for both users and rights holders alike.