The cheerleading competition season has come to an end, but as we all know, the coach’s job is never done! Now is the time for team selections and the early stages of planning routines for the upcoming season. While there is a lot to plan and budget for, don’t forget the music! Complimenting the team’s sick skills with epic music is a must. So how do you get that perfect cheer mix for your squad? There are five important considerations in selecting your cheer music.
Legal Cheer Music
First and foremost, you must make sure that your cheer music mix is legal. About ten years ago, most all-star competitions and many of the state and local competitions as well, began requiring licenses for any music used in cheerleading. While the legal elements are complicated, the basic idea was that teams could no longer use music without the express consent of the artists who made that music. Gone were the days of Top-40 cheer mixes using the latest hit songs. Instead music had to be an original composition designed specifically to be used in cheerleading, with all the legal paperwork that went along with it. When you and your squad are selecting your music producer, make sure that they can produce the documentation which proves you have the full mechanical rights to the music in your mix. Doing this will save you a lot of headaches later in the season: nothing is worse than finding out your music is not legal at a competition!
One of the things that will personalize your cheer music is voice-overs. Voice-overs are the recordings which play over the music including details like your team name, colors, and inspirational phrases which are unique to your team. Getting the perfect voice-overs is just as important as having the perfect cheerleading music. Before you pick a producer, it is important to listen to other mixes they have produced before. Do the voice-overs seem smooth and effortless? How is the mix of music and voice? Can you clearly understand the voice-overs? Does the producer allow you to include your own phrases, or do they just include team names, mascots, and colors? Finding out this information before you choose a vendor will really help your team dial in the perfect voice-overs for your routine.
You’ve picked a music production company which can supply you with full licensing for the music, and has sick voice-overs, so now it is time to check the sound effects. Sound effects are the non-vocal elements which are added to a cheer mix to provide emphasis to key moments in your routine. Every full-up and double-down should have a unique sound effect which can add that extra intensity to your skills. Not all sound effects are equal, however. One of the important things you can do while selecting your music production company is to listen to their sound effects, perhaps even watch a few videos of teams that used that company in the past. Do the sound effects match up with the skills? Are the sound effects appealing to you and your squad? Knowing what you want in advance can really help you and your team select the perfect music for the upcoming year.
Now that your team has found the perfect cheer mix with amazing voice-overs and sound effects, it is time to look at transitions. If your entire routine is one style of music at a single tempo the routine can seem dull and boring. Transitions can help to add energy and intensity to the performance. While you and your team may love hip-hop, you want to have a cheer mix that uses a variety of styles to engage the audience. Consider using a soaring melodic track during the pyramid section of the routine, or a hard-hitting rock track during the running tumbling section. Transitioning from one style of music to another between sections of your routine not only makes each section seem exciting and new, but using a broader variety of musical stylings allows you to express the unique spirit of each element of your routine. Transitions are especially important when it comes to the dance: make sure that the music in your dance is different from the sections before and after it to really make it stand out from the rest of the routine.
One of the final considerations in selecting the perfect cheer mix is dynamics. Dynamics is the use of different volume levels and layering to create different emotional responses to the music. Cheerleading music often has a lot going on at any given time. You can hear the drums, the bassline, the melodies, vocals, and sound effects. Sometimes, however, less is more. Consider selecting a mix that drops several of these elements to create a moment of intensity. Sometimes having everything but a melody drop out during your flexibility sequence can make the body positions seem more artful than they would if there were a searing backbeat during that part of the routine. Having different musical elements drop in and out during the routine makes each section seem more vivid and vivacious.
There are a lot of considerations in picking the perfect cheerleading mix. However, the best place to start is by listening to the music from some of your favorite routines this year. What did you like? What were you not as big a fan of? If you and your squad can get together for a listening party and each pick your favorite cheer music, you can probably find elements that everyone on your team finds appealing. A little research before you pick your producer can make a big difference in how the final product sounds, and you deserve a cheer music mix that you love!