Minnesota Twins VP of Marketing Patrick Klinger talks about the music at Target Field

Categories: Local Music
targetfield-promo.jpg
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Twins
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.


Previously:


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45 comments
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CRISITNA G.
CRISITNA G.

O' yes you have Latinos on the team, I bet would be pleased to hear Salsa music too.~ 

CRISTINA
CRISTINA

Any possible changes tot he music played at the  Target Field?

Crisitna Gurrola
Crisitna Gurrola

Mr. Klinger would Salsa music ever be a selection at a ball game this season 2011? That would indeed be a part of diversity, upbeat and also good energy for the team.~

CRISTINA
CRISTINA

The correct spelling of name is Cristina not Crisitna

Jeffrow75
Jeffrow75

The music at Target Field is terrible.  

David-Joe
David-Joe

Justin Anderson

4 days ago "I'm not a snob and I'm not the lowest common denominator but I bet there is reason why it's local music and not worldwide music, it doesn't appeal to a majority of the people. If local music was better it wouldn't be local music it would be just good music"

You would make a TERRIFIC A&R guy.

Redskymetal
Redskymetal

This Top 40 crap sucks. Period.

SUPPORT THE LOCAL SCENE and bring back the local music. I would love to hear some local rock, alternative, and metal (especially some REDSKY) at Target Field.

Nobody cares for the corporate regurgitated garbage passed off as music at our beautiful Target Field, Dan. Seriously...it's tasteless.

Justin Anderson
Justin Anderson

Music is subjective. Everyone I know thinks I'm a great fan of music and have a wide knowledge of multiple genres and I would like to think I do. My dirty little secret though is, I despise about 90% or more of the local music. I'm not a snob and I'm not the lowest common denominator but I bet there is reason why it's local music and not worldwide music, it doesn't appeal to a majority of the people. If local music was better it wouldn't be local music it would be just good music. People can blame the recording industry and the internet for why they aren't on a major label and crushing cd sales. but it sure seems a lot easier to publish your music and get it out there than ever before.

Geoff
Geoff

The "sing along with T.C." song at the home opener was a lady gaga song. Everyone on the video board was just standing there with no one singing, that should tell you everything you need to know about the new music this year.

Samwise61288
Samwise61288

This article really makes this vp sound like an idiot.

Spikeinlf
Spikeinlf

PLEASE, please, puleeze, do NOT do to our Twins what McHale and Taylor did to the T-Wolves! This team, time and place are very special!! Play some "non-great" local music and let the fans choose which musical groups should be added and/or repeated. Executives are idiots when it comes to music, just ask KG!!!

Ann Whiting
Ann Whiting

....so, you want to make the guy more of a personality and he won't make himself available for an interview? Uh..........okay............

John
John

"These guys are plugged into the music scene." Um, yeah....BULLSHIT

John
John

What a complete and total load of shit. They picked Dan because he works for the station they (the Pohlads) own. No other reason. The rest of the interview was basically just him lying. Sad.

JohnDough
JohnDough

"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."

That could be the silliest quote in this article. I've been to games not only at Target Field, but across the country as well, and no one--no one, does that. His suggestion that somehow Dan's great because he knows enough not to play music while the game's going on is ludicrous. Kevin certainly never did that--honestly, no one hired for that position would do that, whether the game or not. (Really--they'd be trained in if, for whatever reason, someone was hired who didn't know the sport.)

Andrew Bryz-Gornia
Andrew Bryz-Gornia

I work at Target Field and have been to two games so far - one as a fan, one working, and I suppose I was supposed to work one but was rained out - and I don't find that it's a big deal so far. I'm definitely NOT a fan of Top 40 hits, but last season, there were definitely plenty of songs played that I recognized. As for the local hits... I'm not going to be able to identify them. If anything, I feel that playing music from local fans caters to FEWER people than playing the more popular stuff.

You may not be able to get an actual interview with Dan, but you know he's on Twitter. He's certainly accessible, as he was willing to get Jim Thome's AB music to be the song "O Fortuna" like I requested (since Thome had his teammates pick his song last year. However, he ended up choosing one himself this year). I think it's a little ridiculous to complain about his choices in music, know that he's on Twitter so at the very least you could make some music suggestions directly, and then fail to do so.

Thisisbeth
Thisisbeth

Maybe it's just me, but I go to watch a baseball game. Do we need another character? TC is fine, and you need an announcer for between inning stuff...but how many characters do we need?

Guest
Guest

Since the Pohlads own 96.3 as well...this shouldnt be a shocker

abl
abl

I'm confused. It sounds like the Twins removed K. Dutcher and replaced his with someone else because they were looking to create more of a "character?" Was there ever any discussion re: how K. Dutcher might be that character? It sounds like the PR guy is saying that they are spending lots of time training this new guy in to be exactly what Kevin was - a great musician with an ear for all kinds of music that appealed to lots of people. He had a relationship with local bands that was terrific. Why did they even bother to replace him in the first place if they are working so hard to get this new guy to do what Kevin did so effortlessly? I personally think they made a huge mistake. They forgot who buys the tickets to the games, I guess...

Mgmiller32
Mgmiller32

Dan Edward's (@realdanedwards) twitter account proves a few of these points totally false:1. He is a Twins or baseball in general fan (found out about the no-hitter via CNN)2. He is "plugged in" to the music scene3. He has any accumen to select music

Andrew Bryz-Gornia
Andrew Bryz-Gornia

How does finding out from CNN determine that he's not a fan of the Twins? If you can't watch/listen to the game (which was in Chicago, by the way), then it's not surprising that whatever news source he happened to check first would report it.

When I boot up my computer in the morning, first thing that pops up is the MSN website. I get some of my sports news from there before I start checking my favorite websites; does that make me a non-fan as well?

Finally, sure, it appears as though Dan didn't watch the no-hitter. Two facts:

1. Some Minnesota cable companies weren't broadcasting that game. I know because I have Mediacom and was blacked out from the no-hitter.

2. Missing a single game shouldn't decide whether or not you're a fan.

Lester Boofelter
Lester Boofelter

you are a guy who sells hot dogs.  we don't expect more than "hey can i get a hotdog" out of you?  retarded pohlad nephew is billed as being a "character" or reason to go to a game, if he can't follow the out of town games, as they are played, do you think he should be able to skip a few home games too?  anybody can put a wiener on a bun (or de-bun them after the game, proud to say I delivered pretzels in 87) but this guy has a very specific unique job at Target Field and the official reason of how he got the job IS proven to be bullshit based on the fact that he found out about the no hitter on CNN because it's not that he is just a fan or not it is that we are told that he is representative of a portion of the teams entertainment value and an ambassador of the company.

autotunefistpump
autotunefistpump

sooooo they hired him because he went to a bunch of games and because he knows his auto-tune? great selection.....

darkfold
darkfold

Why not feature 1 local song each home game (with credit on the scoreboard)? That's not too much to ask, plus you could build buzz by having local bands submit their songs and having Dan and some local luminaries choose the songs. Announce the winners & what game they'll be played during each week/month in City Pages.

However, the songs should NOT have to be about baseball. We don't need any more awful local music about the game, whether it's GB Leighton or Prince. It seems to make our teams lose anyway. :-)

bronson
bronson

Let's be honest, we wouldn't even be having this discussion if the Twins weren't several games behind the Royals. Bitterness everywhere.

Steve McPherson
Steve McPherson

Quibbling again here, but I actually don't care very much about the Twins' record (I grew up in Massachusetts as a Red Sox fan, but enjoy going to Twins games). The Timberwolves are a godawful team run poorly as a sports organization, but their marketing and fan outreach is (in general) exceptional. When I complain about the Twolves, I complain about their record, not their marketing. And the Target Center plays nothing but Top 40 stuff, and I could care less. I also love when the Twins play "Don't Stop Believin'" and everyone sings along. There is, indeed, something very communal about the songs everyone can sing along to.

I'l just reiterate: what baffles me is they gave up something that was working for them, something that was endearing them to a segment of the population that cares about baseball, about local things, about music. Personally, I think all the marketing jibber-jabber is covering up simple corporate nepotism, given that Edwards' home radio station is owned by the Pohlads (http://www.startribune.com/ent.... Just seems shortsighted to me.

eeguy
eeguy

"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. "

Wrong.....They played The Hold Steady's "Constructive Summer" when the Twins took the field at the 2009 home opener. The only reason I remember this is because it was awesome. I honestly don't really like having any music at a ballgame because they overuse it, but I'd much rather have great local music (or even mediocre for that matter) than get bombarded with the crap they play now.

Steven McPherson
Steven McPherson

As we all know, most great musical decisions come from "trying to appease as many people as [you] can." And the requirements for the job were knowing music and knowing not to play Metallica right as the pitch is delivered? What colossal garbage. Off the top of my head, I think I could come up with a dozen people who could do these things and do them better than they've been done so far this season.

I also agree that saying you want to make someone a "personality" at the ballpark and then not making him/her available for interviews or even having a headshot ready to go is specious.

bronson
bronson

why would they set the guy up for an interview with a publication that's openly hostile toward the subject? I'm sure this marketing guy with all his marketing-speak is much better suited to deal with this. I don't think the new music director needs to come here and answer for his taste to a small mob of contentious music-scene elitists. It's fucking baseball. They're not burning down the Turf Club. Chill.

Steve McPherson
Steve McPherson

The whole appeasement strategy, though, just strikes me as strange. People who like more mainstream music probably don't care as much about what music is being played. So last year, they wowed a whole lot of devoted baseball/music fans with the emphasis on local music and then this year they just gave that ground away.

If you look at any sports team, their main marketing angle is to make the fans feel like they matter and are a part of the organization. The Timberwolves have "United We Run." The Wild have "Every Fan Counts" across the top of their website and play that awesome "State of Hockey" anthem. And, as noted in CP, Target Field has worked with local food establishments to provide local food at the ballpark.

So, given how hard pro teams work to foster that connection with the community, it just seems plain odd to abandon a successful connection that was really working in the team's favor. I honestly don't feel like this has much to do with music scene elitism, at least for me. I'm mostly just curious why they would break something that didn't need fixing.

Steve McPherson
Steve McPherson

Labeling this reasoning as subjective doesn't make sense to me, as all reasoning (at least when it comes to subjective things) involves value judgments. You're meaning to tell me they did a study that gave them raw numbers indicating that Chris Brown is more appreciated by a higher percentage of the attendees than the Hold Steady? I bet they didn't. So you're just assuming that's the case. And I would make the assumption that while the Hold Steady might be appreciated by a smaller percentage, I think those people appreciate hearing the Hold Steady an exponentially greater amount than hearing Chris Brown. And don't you think there might be some correlation between die-hard music fans and die-hard baseball fans who buy season tickets? Using that subjective reasoning again (let's just call it assumption, because I don't have the money to fund a study myself), I'm willing to bet people who are passionate about local music are likely to be passionate about other things, like baseball.

And anyways, it's all beside the point because if Target Field had never played local music in the first place, this wouldn't even be an issue. My concern is not so much whether a stadium plays local music or not, it's that Target Field WAS playing local music, and then decided to change it up.

bronson
bronson

But you're still using subjective reasoning. What you personally deem "good" or "bad" doesn't matter to the Target Field directors. Trust me, I've had this argument countless times with my girlfriend, and it's always a losing battle. There really is no accounting for taste. But when the director is faced with the decision to play The Hold Steady or Chris Brown, the raw numbers are going to tell him that a higher percentage of attendees are going to appreciate the Chris Brown choice. If you're someone who prefers original music made with integrity by decent people, then you should already be accustomed to dealing with daily exposure to music you don't care for. It's just the way it is.

eeguy
eeguy

Catering to the people who like familiarity rather than a unique experience is the reason we have TGI Fridays and the like. Should we continue to encourage this kind of thought? Plus, they had to be unfamiliar with what is now their familiar music at some point. I'm not saying playing local music at a ballgame is going to change the way those people think or listen to music, but it at least satisfies those of us who want a little bit of a local taste.

BringBackMNMusic
BringBackMNMusic

It doesn't make sense. Last year the only thing people were talking about involving the music was how eclectic and local it was. The Twins won some new fans. If you appreciated music you noticed. If your tastes were more top 40, you didn't notice, you nodded your head and went back to watching the game. Appealing to the lowest common denominator who didn't and won't notice a music change is a poor decision. It seems like there have been a lot of bad thinking in the Twins organization this year. On and off the field. Bringing Mauer back too early, the awful tower that, according to Dave St Peter, has no use besides being a huge eyesore, removing the tree's and now adding a music guy that doesn't know music (sorry Dan, but you don't). It's a pretty easy fix.. try someone new.

bronson
bronson

Much like the Twins themselves, though, I think we should hold judgment until the season is a bit further on. Like the guy said, this is a new director who's still getting acclimated to the job, so maybe he's just playing a lot of top 40 stuff until he gets more comfortable with branching out.

And I think the idea that people who listen to mainstream music don't really care about what music is being played is simply a myth. Just because someone doesn't have a very discerning palate doesn't mean they don't really enjoy the shit out of that Whopper. For some people, familiarity and a sense of shared enjoyment is more important than the music itself, which is exactly the appeal of top 40 music.

eeguy
eeguy

Couldn't agree more. This has always puzzled me. Why do we end up catering to the people who don't really give a shit? Why do people who really love music always have to suffer for the sake of those who think of music as just something to put on in the background?

sam
sam

It seems strange that they want someone to be a "personality" and then they don't make him available for interviews.

Reed Fischer
Reed Fischer

I was really hoping to ask him about the music he likes, what local music he plans on playing, etc. I asked for a photo of him for the article, too, but they said they didn't have one available.

BringBackMNMusic
BringBackMNMusic

I hate to say it, but they made the wrong choice with Dan.

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