A Brief History of Cheerleading Music

Cheerleading music has changed a lot in the last several decades. In the 1980’s, a team would simply take a song from a CD or cassette and perform to it with no sound effects or voice overs. Classics like Jock Jams became cheerleading pep rally staples, and then became something of a cliché. This decade saw the proliferation of nationally organized competitions in the sport. But the contests had a lot of issues, as did the music that played at them.

In the 1990’s the double cassette player became a critical tool for building your teams cheerleading mix. Coaches would take a selection of songs and literally count to eight while it played, hit pause at the end of the section, swap out the cassette tape, then count over the next section. This allowed athletes to create a cheerleading mix, but there were still no sound effects or voice-overs, and the transitions could be jarring. Cheer music was pretty amateur, even at its best.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s digital music editing became possible, and competitions were flooded with Top-40 music mixes with sound effects and customized voice-overs. Software like Cool Edit and Acid Pro gave anyone with a computer the ability to mix music, and this led to the development of the cheerleading music industry as we know it today. Professional cheer music was no longer exclusively for all-star programs: now even high school, middle school, and recreational teams had access to high-quality cheer mixes.

By the 2010’s the best cheerleading music was produced as professionally and seamlessly as the top pop music production studios in the country. Mash-ups of the hottest tracks in the country were being produced with software like Pro Tools, and cheerleading music became available on streaming services like Spotify. However, with this polish and professionalism came increased scrutiny by the music industry. Most of the songs in these cheer mixes were the intellectual property of the record labels and music artists who had created the originals. Cheerleading music was considered its own genre, had national recognition, and it was producing revenue.

By the mid 2010s the music industry had limited the kinds of music which most cheerleading music producers were allowed to use in their mixes. A large number of the major cheerleading event producers banned the use of cheer music which includes copyrighted materials without a license to edit the music by the original artist. This ushered in a new generation of cheer mixes, with cheer music producers using properly licensed and royalty-free music or producing their own original tracks for all-star programs.

Cheerleading music has transformed as technology and the sport have expanded, creating amazing works of art, but also pushing the limits of intellectual property law. What does the next decade hold? Only time will tell, but the efforts of professionals like the artists at CheerleadingMix.com can help you stay on top of the latest trends and make certain that your music aligns with national and regional rules as well as U.S. Copyright law.