Minnesota Twins VP of Marketing Patrick Klinger talks about the music at Target Field
Earlier this week, I wrote a piece about the recent disappointing changes to the music programming at Target Field, specifically since the organization swapped out previous music director Kevin Dutcher for new hire Dan Edwards from 96.3 NOW. Though I was hoping to include Edwards' take in my original piece, the Twins have seemed hesitant to make him available for an interview.
In lieu of a discussion with Edwards himself, I spoke with Minnesota Twins VP of Marketing Patrick Klinger, who shed some light on the organization's philosophy about music at Target Field and why they made the decision to change music directors. You can read our conversation below.
Gimme Noise: How was new music director Dan Edwards hired? What was it about his background that you felt made him a good candidate?
Patrick Klinger: We decided going into the 2011 season that we wanted to look at making our music person a little bit more of a personality, somebody that would be one of the cast of characters, if you will, in the ball park - similar to Sue Nelson, our organist, or Jim Cunningham, who's our game host, or TC. And so we started the process of looking for somebody who might fit that mold. We sat down with folks from NOW 96.3 and said listen, if you know of anybody in the area - these guys are plugged into the music scene - if you know anybody who you'd think would be appropriate, point us in their direction. Dan happened to be one of the guys that was at the table that day.
So we met Dan, and we probably interviewed maybe 10-12 different candidates, and then came back to Dan for a variety of reasons. One, he knew music, as the assistant program director at the station; and second of all he was a huge Twins fan, he had attended 65 of the 81 baseball games held at Target Field last year. And one of the critical elements for the person playing the music is that they understand the game, so that they're not playing music at inopportune times - you know, in the middle of a pitch, the last thing you want to have happen is a song suddenly played while a 97-mile-an-hour fastball is coming at one of your players. So you have to have both. And we were looking for somebody who maybe we thought we could build something around, we were looking for somebody who obviously knew music, and also needed somebody who understood the game.
Can you speak to why Kevin Dutcher isn't in the position any longer?
I think what we wanted to do is, again, build the music around an individual and make him more of a character in the ballpark. It's yet to be seen as to whether Dan is going to grow into that situation, but that's what we were looking for, and somebody who was going to take music in perhaps a little different direction. Kevin did an absolutely wonderful job for us for 11 seasons, but we just wanted to try a little bit different direction, and just have somebody else spin the tunes and see where the music went. And again, perhaps build that person into one of the characters at the stadium.
What is the process for selecting music during the game? Are there people helping Dan, or are the decisions left totally up to him?
Those decisions are made by him, and solely by him. He has the ability to decide, based on the situation, what music to play. So he's got music for rallies, he's got music for when the team is way up, maybe music for a pitching change. You sort of put different musical selections into different buckets, and you pull them out depending on what the situation is. But he has the ability to decide what songs will be played when.
What are the plans for music moving forward? Is there a plan to add more diversity to the playlist and incorporate more variety?
Absolutely. We do need variety, and we're working with Dan on that very topic. The challenge is, you've got 40,000 people at every game, and 40,000 people with different musical tastes, so you need a little country, you need pop, you need some rock, we've even played Big Band in the past. It bounces all over the place because we are trying to appease as many people as we can. And we're also trying to keep the mood upbeat and exciting. But understanding that we've got 40,000 people here who all have different musical tastes, we're trying to be responsive to as many of them as we possibly can be. And so there will be a variety of music played - hopefully an even wider variety of music will be played during the course of the season, once Dan continues to get acclimated.
Do you think you'll ever incorporate local music into your programming the way Kevin Dutcher did? Last season they were playing songs by local bands before the start of each game, is there a chance that might be brought back?
It's very possible that it could. We are playing local music, that's one thing that Dan knows needs to happen. It maybe isn't in the same format that Kevin was playing it in, at the beginning of the game - I think it was actually about 30, 35 minutes prior to the game, it wasn't when the team took the field or anything like that, it was well in advance of first pitch. But Dan is incorporating local music into the selections. Will it be done exactly as Kevin did it in the past? Perhaps; perhaps not. But I assure you local music will continue to be part of the music mix here.
Last year local musicians were also featured by being invited to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and the National Anthem. Is that something that will be continued?
Who sings the anthem, who sings" Take Me Out to the Ballgame" can come from a variety of different places. For instance, this time of year we have a lot of school groups that come out, they might bring 500 to 1,000 people, and they're given an opportunity to designate a person or a choir to sing the Anthem or "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." When we have slots, we love to have local artists come out and sing the Anthem or "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It's not as easy as you might think. [laughs] There are a lot of people who frankly just don't want to do the Anthem, artists who don't want to do it. We not only try to get local artists but I've worked hard over the years to try to get national artists, and it's just - they see it as a no-win situation for them. There's too much risk and not enough reward, as we saw with Christina Aguilera in the Super Bowl. It's a hard song to sing, and some national acts just don't want to come out and try it.
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