Baseball has been a lifelong passion for Ben Wiegman. The sophomore pitcher from Louisville also has another notable hobby: creating music. After dropping an EP, Wiegman has received support from fans and NIL has allowed him to explore new opportunities off the field.
Balancing Baseball and Music
His music has been embraced all across campus, but that wasn’t always the case. In high school, Wiegman’s opponents teased him. Nevertheless, he quickly brushed off the haters and stayed true to himself.
“I’ve had hundreds of people say, ‘Oh, stick to baseball – blah blah blah – everyone’s trying to be a rapper,’” he said. “I don’t really care what they think. I like making music. I love creating things.”
Since transitioning to college ball, his teammates and the Louisville community have been extremely supportive of his work. They even play his music at other sporting events and activities around campus.
“The first time I heard it playing in the stadium, I was just walking and I heard them playing it,” he remembered. “My new EP is getting played at the basketball stadium and stuff like that. Then baseball, during batting practice, they’re always showing some love in playing the music.”
The Louisville community has been instrumental in how Wiegman has produced and distributed his music. Many of his songs have a Louisville theme. He plans to do live shows when baseball season is over.
“It’s better to represent something that’s much bigger than yourself,” he said. “That’s why I was excited about Louisville, because there’s no MLB team in Louisville. Fans are diehard Louisville or Kentucky fans. That’s really, really cool because there’s a lot of passionate fans. I released one called On The Map and the whole hook is [about] Louisville. I’m trying to represent because I really like it here. I like the community and I love the fans.”
The love is mutual.
“We did signing at a basketball game and there were some people that came up and said, ‘Oh, I loved your EP.’”
As his music career progresses, Wiegman is gearing up for more opportunities to connect with his fans in person. But being a baseball student-athlete comes first.
“I’ve been able to make some connections with people in the music industry,” he said. “In the next month or two, I’m supposed to be working in the studio with some of the engineers around the city who have already mentioned they can get me into some performances and gigs at certain places. That’s definitely something I’m interested in. Baseball, it has to be the priority – especially with the season – but outside of the season when things a lot more open, I definitely think I’ll be pursuing some of that.”
NIL Making a Difference
As a communications major with a music minor, he is grateful for the opportunities that have come with NIL.
“The whole NIL thing really helps because now I can fully promote everything,” Wiegman explained. “It’s very nice because I can be the baseball player who also makes music. I can promote that brand in a way, so that’s been beneficial for sure.”
Producing music and doing features has been Wiegman’s main form of income, however, he’s participated in other NIL opportunities outside of music. He has a deal with Cuts clothing and even his cat has helped him acquire a deal with a vet telehealth company.
He pays close attention to his finances, ensuring his income and recurring expenses are in line.
“I was looking at it and took a step back to say, ‘What are my expenses as a college student?’ If you eliminate those expenses, you’re actually making, in a way, even more money because it’s money you won’t be spending.”
For student-athletes growing up in the social media age, there can be some anxieties and uncertainties with putting yourself out there. The fear of being judged by peers is real. Weigman knows that from his high school days.
“Putting yourself out there isn’t easy, especially in the social media age,” he admitted. “So just doing that (being active) is pretty essential, especially if you’re trying to make money.
“I always knew if you had a good amount of followers, it would benefit you in some way – whether it’s brands working with you or whatever,” he said. “I always tried to do that ever since I was like a kid and now I’m starting to see it pay off. But you don’t have to have a million followers to get brand deals.”