BRISTOL, Conn. -- The emphasis on sports tends to obscure this fact, but ESPN is also a huge consumer of music.In fact, music has grown into a crucial underpinning of the Bristol-based company's televised sports empire. It's the soundtrack to game coverage, highlight reels, news shows and more, and the cable network uses music-themed contests, full-album streams, promotions and live chats with artists to attract viewers to its website."Music is in everything we do," says Claude Mitchell, the company's coordinating director of music.. "You can't watch a show on ESPN without hearing a piece of music."With such a large and continual appetite for music, ESPN has increasingly become an alternate way for bands to reach fans in an era of declining record sales and narrowing radio playlists. Landing a song on ESPN can have a real impact, musicians say, a claim backed by sales figures.