There are many perks that come with being a musician and getting a sponsorship is one of them.
A sponsorship does not mean you will get free gear. It could mean you will get special discount pricing. In return, you will be expected to use or endorse the brand’s products. Depending on the contract, you may have to use their products exclusively, but this is not always the case.
This works as a win win. You get to use free or discount gear while the brand gets free advertising from you using their products.
But in order for the brand to want to use you, you have to make a good impression. After all, what good does it do for you to show off their products if you’re playing in clubs to five people and have 20 followers on social media? Therefore, you will want to work on boosting your image so you look impressive to companies before you even approach them about a sponsorship.
Once you build up a following, you will also have to make the right connections. It’s possible a company may reach out to you and offer you a sponsorship, but more often than not, you will have to approach them.
This article will give you tips on making yourself look impressive as a musician and following up with the right company pitch.
Build a Strong Social Media Presence
Social media is a great way to build a following. When brands see that you have a lot of followers across a variety of platforms, they will be more likely to sponsor you.
Here are some tips for getting a strong following on social media.
Post on a Regular Basis: Don’t go overboard to the point where you seem spammy, but post a couple of times a week. This will keep you out in the public eye.
Post Engaging Content: It goes without saying that you will be posting about new music and shows you are playing, but if you go overboard advertising yourself, fans can get turned off. Try to mix up things up by adding behind the scenes looks at the band that will provide a more personal view.
Follow Other People: A good way to build a following is to follow other people. Chances are they will follow you back.
However, following too many people can work against you.
For instance, if you follow 4,000 and have 1,000 followers, it won’t look nearly as impressive as if you follow 10 people and have 1,000 followers.
To maintain a balance, go through the list of the people you are following every so often and eliminate ones that don’t seem to be engaging.
Cross Promote: If you’re on a variety of platforms, let followers what other platforms you are on. This will grow your following across the board.
Promote Live Shows
A brand will also be impressed if you are pulling a lot of people to your live shows. If you are using their products and playing for a large crowd, it will help get their name out there.
Getting people to a live show is one of the hardest things you can do as a musician and in some instances, no matter how hard you try, you still get low numbers. But here are some tips that will help you draw.
Create Events on Social Media: Facebook is terrific for creating events. Once you start a band page, you can use it to create events and invite your friends. As the show gets closer, be sure to share the event so everyone remembers it’s coming up.
Post Fliers on Social Media: You can also create digital fliers that you can post on your social media sites to let everyone know the show is happening.
Hand Out Actual Fliers: Musicians that were around before computers know all about going out to the clubs and handing out fliers. This type of personal touch can make you stand out in the computer age.
Call People and Invite Them: Posting fliers on social media is effective but it’s a strategy that’s easy to ignore. Let people know you are hoping they come to your show by calling them up (or texting them) to invite them.
Support Other Bands: If you go to other bands’ shows, they just might show up at yours.
Be Social: As an introverted musician, I know how difficult it is to be social. But the more friends you have, the more likely they will be to come to your show.
Get a Good Web Site Together
A good web site will also be impressive. Make sure your web site is well designed and include professional looking pictures and content that shows you in the best light possible.
A web site that does not look professional could work against you more than it works in your favor.
Go on Tour
Touring is a great way to get your band name out there. If you take a lot of road trips and visit cities outside of your home town, chances are the brand you’re pitching to may have heard of you due to clubs advertising your shows. This will look very impressive.
In any case, when it comes to getting a sponsorship, the more exposure your band has gotten, the better.
Find the Right Brand
Once you have established yourself with a strong following, it’s time to start looking at companies to pitch to. Remember, these don’t necessarily have to be music companies. Clothing brands may also be a good choice because you can wear their clothing on stage.
Next think of companies that you think you would fit with well. For instance, if you have a grunge band, you may want to approach a company that has a history of working with grunge artists. It your look is gothic, a brand like Coffin Case is one you may want to approach.
You must also be open minded. For instance, if you play Fender guitars and are thinking of approaching Fender about an endorsement, you’re going to have to wait in line.
There are tons of artists that use Fenders and want Fender endorsements so the chances of you getting a sponsorship with the company are not very good. On the other hand, if you go with a boutique brand that isn’t as popular, your chances of sealing the deal increase substantially.
Before pitching to a company about a sponsorship, it’s a good idea to try and make some other type of connection.
If you already know someone who works at the company you’re pitching to, that’s a great way to increase your chances of getting sponsored.
Alternately, you may want to start out building a relationship gradually.
Research the company and find out about the person who is responsible for sponsorships. See if you can make a connection via social media by commenting on their posts or sending them links to articles you think they will find useful.
NAMM is another great place to make connections. NAMM is a music conference that happens once a year in Anaheim, CA and it serves as a platform for music companies to showcase new products. It is only open to people in the music industry, but you may know someone who can help you (literally) get a foot in the door.
Once you arrive at the conference, make sure to shake hands and give out plenty of business cards. Keep in touch with the right people to build a relationship.
When the time is right, let your connection know you are considering making a pitch to their company for a sponsorship.
You will still have to craft a former pitch letter (we’ll get to that in a second) but at least you know there’s someone who will be looking out for your offer and hopefully trying to push you through.
Prepare a One Sheet
A one sheet is a document that includes the following information:
- Your band name, bio and contact information
- A high-quality photo of the band
- Your album name and artwork. You may also bold links to a couple of tracks you want the recipient to listen to
A one sheet is great for trying to get a sponsorship, but it can also work to get you radio play, gigs and more.
You can include additional information based on who you’re sending it out to and the purpose it serves. For instance, if you are trying to get a gig, you can add something about high profile gigs you have done and how well they were attended.
Here’s some information you may consider adding if you are submitting your one sheet for a sponsorship.
- Show Attendance: If you’re constantly packing in crowds, this is information you will want to include on your one sheet.
- Radio Play: You will also want to add a line or two about radio stations that have played your music. If you ranked on their charts, be sure to include that as well.
- Press Clippings and Testimonials: If your band received impressive write ups or if celebrities or influencers had anything nice to say about your music, be sure to mention it.
- Past Sponsors: Including businesses that have sponsored you in the past will show the company you’re pitching to that you have the potential to add value to their company.
When it comes to making a one sheet, you can be creative in the information you add. However, remember that it is a one sheet and should therefore be kept to one sheet of paper. If you make it too long and too cluttered it may not get reviewed.
Make Your Pitch
In addition to submitting a one sheet, you will also want to include a letter that is written specifically for the company giving them added incentive to sponsor you.
When creating a pitch letter, take a personalized approach and mention how you think you will benefit their brand. For instance, you can mention why you think you are a good fit for their company image wise. Or you can talk about how you have used their products in the past and how they are suited to your lifestyle.
You can also mention what you will do to promote them. You can tell them you will place signage for their brand around the venues you are playing and give them shout outs onstage.
You can also promise to post pictures of yourself and your band on social media using their products and tagging their brand.
Create a Proposal
It’s advisable to send a proposal along with your one sheet and pitch letter. The proposal will include a summary of the agreement and how you’re going to benefit the company. It should outline the terms including how long the contract will last (i.e. a single show, a tour, a year, etc.), whether it will be renewable and how you will leverage the companies resources.
A proposal may not be fun to write but it will show you mean business.
Remember, brands get a lot of requests for sponsorships so it may take time for them to get to yours. It also means that it’s easy for your request to get ignored.
Following up with a phone call or email can help you stand out and it might get you the attention you need. However, that doesn’t mean your proposal will be accepted.
If you end up getting rejected, it’s important to stay professional. Don’t get upset or burn any bridges. You never know who you’ll end up meeting further down the road. For instance, the rep you are talking to now could end up working with another brand that you want to approach about sponsorship in the future. If you blow up at someone, they may never consider working with you again.
Avoid Common Mistakes
While these are all great tips that will help you get a sponsorship deal, here are some things you will definitely want to avoid doing.
Trying to Close the Deal Too Soon: Let’s say you’ve gone ahead and got a meeting with the company to discuss the endorsement. Don’t try to push it from here.
Booking a meeting is one of the best things you can do to get a sponsorship, but if you get too pushy, you can mess it all up. Wait for your meeting and see what happens and don’t be impatient.
Not Being Realistic: When you write your proposal, include realistic terms. For instance, instead of asking for free gear, let them know you may also be open to discounts, especially if your band doesn’t have that big of a following.
Think of a deal that makes sense and put that in writing instead of trying to ask for too much. Being unrealistic can be a turn off to businesses and it won’t get you anywhere.
Not Being Specific: When making your offer, be specific about what you are asking for and what you can do for the company. This approach will come off as professional and it won’t leave any room for miscommunication.
A Weak Proposal or One Sheet: All the documents you turn in should look impressive. They should be well written and nicely formatted with no grammatical errors and any pictures included should be professional.
How to Keep a Sponsorship
Once you get a sponsorship, the last thing you want is to lose the deal before your contract ends.
When you get a sponsorship, you will have to sign a contract that outlines certain guidelines. For instance, you may have to always use your sponsor’s gear at high profile public events. They may also require that you follow a certain code of behavior.
Breaking any of the ‘rules’ of the contract may result in you losing your deal.
And remember, even if it’s not specifically stated in the contract, any sort of unfavorable behavior can work against you. If you badmouth another musician, commit a crime or do anything extreme on stage, you may end up losing your sponsorship. (Note, these are just examples of the kinds of actions that can lose an endorsement. Hopefully, you get the picture.)
A sponsorship is a cool thing to have. Free or discount gear can make you feel like a rock star no matter what level your band is at.
The tips in this article will help you get closer to getting endorsed by businesses which will make a great impression on anyone who sees you. Which brands will you be approaching about your sponsorship?