Corporate Sponsorships Offer Musicians Another Revenue Model
I am often asked about how musicians can make money off of their talents in a world where I encourage acts to give away their music for free. Many think the concept of giving away the music that they’ve spent so much time working on is crazy talk.
The problem is, most musicians are not business people by default, and I often forget how much knowledge I have about business, marketing, and finance.
Any smart business owner, investor, or already wealthy person will tell you that the key to financial freedom is having multiple streams of income.
For the musician, this includes not only making money off your music (which you still can even if you gave it away for free), but merchandising, touring, and sponsorships.
What is a sponsorship? It’s when someone, usually a corporation or business, gives you money to enter a business partnership with them. The details from the relationship can differ depending upon what value the business sees from partnering with your act.
One example is popping up all over TV. From Budweiser to Pepsi to Apple’s iPod, many big corporations are paying musical acts to use their music, and many times the act themselves, in their advertising.
Moby is well known for making big bucks off of licensing his music for commercial use. Britney Spears had a deal with Pepsi a few years back, and Jay-Z was seen not too long ago hawking Budweiser Select. Sometimes the advertiser is just looking for a cool tune to place in their commercials, while others look for star power to help influence the masses into using their products.
Another way to look at sponsorships is to think about sports figures. Imagine a Nascar race. Each car is sponsored by a large corporation. The racing team gets money in return for splashing their product’s logo all over the place.
The same could be done with an act going on tour. The band would receive payment for placing ads on their stage, merchandise, posters, and even the name of the tour.
Ever seen a basketball star endorse a specific line of shoes? The same could be done with a musician, receiving money in return for endorsing s specific kind of guitar, keyboard, drum set, etc.
There are really no limitations on how one could benefit from strategic sponsorships with businesses. Whether it’s related to your music, fashion, or lifestyle, many creative opportunities exist that can put money into a musicians pocket.
If you’re just starting out, obviously getting a huge corporate sponsor is going to prove difficult. One strategy to think about is finding a sponsor that you think fits well with your music and demographic, and approaching them with an opportunity to partner up at no cost.
Granted, this isn’t going to put money in your pockets initially. It is going to, however, provide you with a bit of credibility. When people see that you have a sponsor that they recognize, they’ll think that you must having something good going for you if a business went out of their way to approach you and give you money.
They won’t question “how much money” you got or what the details of your relationship are. They’ll just assume that you’re the real deal because you’re tied with another brand. This s a great way to give yourself boost of confidence, look legit, and strengthen your brand by piggy-backing on another. It’ll also help you round up paid sponsorships as your career grows.
Now I know many reading this will roll their eyes at the thought of “selling out” to a sponsor. Remember this: YOU can decide who sponsors your music, and the bigger your act gets, the more power you will have to negotiate with sponsors. I would pick a list of companies that fit into your goals, your lifestyle, and more importantly your band’s message. Pick a sponsor that has a brand that works well with your band and your fanbase, and no one will be offended that you jumped into bed with them.
They’re are companies out there that can assist you with finding a corporate sponsor, like Rumblefish, who will help connect you with businesses looking to find music for their advertisements.
And if Budweiser comes along and offers you a boatload of cash, feel free to take it. Just know that I won’t be picking up your latest album afterwards 😉