Gaining traction in the music industry can be a long drawn out hike to the top of a mountain that always seems out of reach. Touring is a tedious cycle that, if not done right, will only financially and mentally drain you. You need outside help to keep the machine rolling. Record labels are a great start but there is a road you can take even before that. Sponsorships are the perfect way to keep your tour fueled. They can do a lot of things for a smaller band. Instrument and gear supplying is a huge one. New bands have to budget their money very meticulously, so new instruments and gear are never calculated into the budget. They have to work with what they have. Often times a brand like Fender will supply guitars to artists who openly play their guitars anyway. Name any brand or type of equipment and they probably do these sponsorships too. However, this is not something that happens regularly for ever band. Those companies strategically pic the musicians they feel will be the best form of promotion. They are looking for the best investment. Businesses also take “applications” from customers to “apply” for sponsorships. If you are going to do this then you must have the aspects of your band set in stone. As a band you are creating a brand. What does that brand represent? This all has to be clear to a company in your pitch. It is all about compatibility between parties. The company doesn’t want to represent anything that could possibly bring them bad publicity or harm. Also as an artist, you may not want to represent a business that could turn off the interest of your fans.
Reaching your audience in the age of technology has become more difficult. When people are bombarded with ads on the hourly basis, they tend to shut off their mind to any of it. Businesses are finding more organic ways to push their brand. The grassroot approach to marketing will always find a more honest connection to their customers. One of the best opportunities for sponsorships is having a business sponsor your tour. This will take much of the financial burden off of our own shoulders, allowing you to focus on the art. Now, as a non established artist, companies won’t always be so keen to handover the money for an entire tour. Another option would be to ask for a supply of equipment. An example of this would be guitar strings, drum sticks, guitar picks, etc. Touring is unpredictable. You never know when you will need a fresh set of any of these items, so having that inventory is huge. Plus it acts as a double duty, you are getting what you need while the company gets promotion. Companies can even sponsor sing shows. It is usually radio stations that take this route. This usually appears after the artist’s name on the billing. “Kellee Maize Live, presented by WYEP”. These types of sponsorships can gain you further press. If the media sees the two of you paired together, that will lead other businesses to consider offering you even better deals than you recieved.
Sponsorships in terms of events are of paramount importance. It is everything from funding, to branding, and even the contents of the event. Event sponsorships fuel the fire of innovation. That innovation is integrated marketing. The event managers aim to blur the lines between business and consumer by creating an experience that organically markets the brand to the attendee. Music festivals are huge in this. For example, Coachella is sponsored by: Amazon, Google Pixel 3, Heineken, etc. These sponsors hold “events within events” at the festival to personally interact with the crowds. No one would notice another company name on a banner so they head right to the front lines. Another example would be the Vans Warped Tour. For years that tour directly connected and identified with a specific genre and scene of kids. Vans shoes became a vital part of the punk scene by integrated brand and event. Sponsorships are as much a part of the event as the acts are. Outside of the funding and promotions, they create something special for the audience. They expand the brand they love to other products and companies. If someone loves a band’s music, they will personally identify with that artist and their style. So when, for example, Converse sponsors them, that fan will buy and wear converse shoes every time. The fan wants to feel a special connection to the artist or event. Strictly speaking of the positive ramifications to sponsorships, there is no reason not to accept or reach out to the right company and right offer. You will expand what you have created by creating ways for your audience to have a direct connection with your brand outside of the music.