Learning how to get music sponsorship deals as an independent artist is not quick. Having all the business understanding in the world will only get you so far.
Knowing how to get sponsors as an independent artist comes from building your own brand, expanding your network base, and nailing the perfect pitch to make you stand out
Getting sponsored brings a whole range of perks if you achieve it. If the cards favor you, you can get free gear, marketing opportunities, and mainstream exposure.
So no matter if you are targeting brand giants such as Monster and Vans or attracting attention from local media outlets, there’s always work to be done. So how do you get sponsors as an independent artist?
Before You Contact Sponsors: Perfecting Your Music Profile
Before sending anything out, you must ask yourself: what are you all about?
There’s no point even sending anything out if you don’t know how to sell yourself to strangers. If you can’t sell your act to friends or family, what chance would you have with mainstream marketing execs?
Therefore, you need to identify what your act is all about. No matter what genre you are playing in, your identity needs to be crystal clear. So how do you go about doing this?
Finding Your Music Style (Your Niche)
Defining your music style can be tricky. However, it’s the first thing you need to do to learn what your identity is all about. This comes in both look and sound. Too often, upcoming bands will focus too much on their idols and copy them in every way imaginable.
For example, how many 2000s emo bands dyed their hair black and donned makeup aiming to become the next My Chemical Romance? Thousands would’ve tried, and maybe only 50-100 would’ve gotten a chance at a professional deal.
Therefore, find ways to make yourself unique from the competition. For a look, try different colored clothing or styles to have that wow factor. When it comes to sound, find something that makes you stand out. Just like Yellowcard had a violinist to make them distinct from other pop-punk acts of the 2000s.
Nailing these aspects and settling on them takes time. Most importantly, it should feel right. You shouldn’t rush it. However, when you find something you’re comfortable with, stick with it and make it your own.
Displaying Your Online Presence
The other way to make your profile stand out is by having snapshot platforms to open yourself up to the world. A one-stop platform to say what you are all about.
This best comes in two forms – a good electronic press kit (EPK) and a one-sheet. These documental windows give strangers a direct snapshot of what you are about. But don’t make them the same.
When creating an EPK, use this as the destination to showcase everything you’ve done in one area. Showcase big hits, upcoming shows, and major achievements. The more you show here and the more it is updated, the more people will try to reach out.
Your one-sheet needs to be a streamlined version of your EPK. It’s one sheet to sell you to the world. Therefore, only put the most relevant and critical information here. Showcase your one big hit or newest release, include all contact info, and sum yourself up in one sentence. Keeping this short and sweet is the aim of the game.
Once these are up and running, you have a platform to show who you are as an artist. These two things are the first steps in selling yourself to the world.
Expanding Your Reach Through Music Industry Work and Social Media
Having established yourself as what you want to be, it’s time to find ways to put yourself out there to prospective sponsors. This is where putting in hard work will start to reap the rewards and draw the eyes of marketing moguls.
When looking to attract potential sponsors, there are several key ways to get yourself out there, such as:
- Thriving on social media
- Expanding your professional network
- Being an active performer
They might all seem obvious enough, but it’s funny how much bands and performers forget to do this and miss out on glaring opportunities. How do these attract sponsors for independent artists?
Social Media Success
Social media is a phenomenon in itself. It can make or break your act in seconds. However, savvy users can manipulate it to its fullest. Platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Twitch are all crawling with sponsor opportunities if you look in the right places.
To get traction on social media, you need to consider several aspects.
First, you need to stay active on there. This means posting regular updates on what your band is doing. This could be gig photos, new video uploads, or announcements. No matter what you post, an active profile can always attract more subscribers and likes.
Second, use it to interact directly with fans and commenters. This could be offering insights into questions on a new video or dropping hints about future shows and updates. Acts that engage with their fans are more likely to build stronger connections with them and increase their profile on a platform.
Finally, as your platform rises, this will catch the eyes of companies looking to take advantage of trending acts. It only takes one thing to trend, and you could have companies reaching out to your social media pages before you know it.
Building Your Music Industry Contacts
For any independent artist, expanding your professional network is a must. After all, the more you connect with industry professionals, the better your chance of finding potential sponsors that fit your identity.
The most important rule of networking: never write off any opportunity.
Even a tiny industry convention may provide a chance to earn an endorsement. This may be from local companies wanting to back a hometown hero or targeting your key audience to get a mega deal. It’s as good an opportunity as attending large conventions with hundreds of PR Reps and marketing departments.
Smaller entities are also less likely to throw their weight around to get better deals out of you.
No matter how many business cards you exchange, making new contacts gets your name out there. And that eventually leads to brands and sponsors reaching out about arranging a deal.
Staying Active as a Musician
Even with a big social media presence and a long list of names, it counts for nothing if you aren’t actively performing or evolving your brand. And it is always one of the common causes of an act’s downfall.
Today’s world is constantly changing and evolving – nothing is ever not going to be refreshed. This means that you need to keep performing and maintaining everything if you want sponsors to notice you.
Nowadays, fans always want to see what their favorite acts are doing, and so do sponsors. If you go inactive for months, you will lose fans in droves. And this will turn off any company thinking of going with an act they thought was a hot commodity.
Therefore, stay active as a performer, which will also increase your chances of landing some endorsement over rival acts that may have gone off the boil.
Three Types of Companies That Sponsor Artists
If you are lucky enough to link up with a sponsor, you will no doubt enjoy perks and opportunities you wouldn’t think possible. But there are different types of deals and endorsements that you could receive. Just what are they, and what bonuses could they bring?
1. Social Media Deals
One of the easiest endorsements to strike up is a social media deal. This brings you into the world of becoming an “influencer.” This involves making posts or content plugging a particular brand or item.
These could be through posting a quick photo on Instagram with a particular item of clothing or playing videos using particular gear on YouTube or TikTok.
You will often find that these deals start relatively low-key but can grow over time, depending on your social media profile and the success of the plug.
Don’t think these are a one-and-done affair, though. Most social media plugs will often involve agreeing to do multiple posts over regular periods to drive it home. For example, there’s a reason why you always see YouTubers plugging Raid Shadow Legends on weekly video uploads.
Despite all of this, these endorsements are low-end affairs that require minimum effort to produce but bring massive rewards if they catch on.
2. Gear Endorsements
For performers, earning gear endorsements can be a massive boost. These will come when companies provide you with free gear to use in exchange for promoting that particular brand.
These deals can be some of the most lucrative if you stay with them for the long haul. Many budding rockstars have used gear endorsements to define their sound and raise their image.
For example, look at guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani’s relationship with guitar maker Ibanez over the years. After Satriani earned critical acclaim for Surfing With The Alien in 1988, Ibanez hooked up with Satriani for him to use their Radius 540 guitar.
After his success and a stint as lead guitarist to Mick Jagger, Ibanez launched Satriani’s signature line – the JS range. Upon the launch of the JS range in 1990, it became one of Ibanez’s key signature series and has produced special 20th and 30th-anniversary models over the years.
As you can see, striking up gear endorsements provides a window to boost your own identity alongside it. That’s why they are some of the most sought-after deals around.
3. Touring Endorsements
If you are lucky enough to break into the mainstream and succeed, you may even find that companies are willing to endorse entire tours for your act. Even though this might signal crossing into the mainstream, it does bring valuable opportunities to upcoming acts.
Not only would there be valuable PR opportunities, but that company may also cover costs such as travel and accommodation. They would do this if your act plays a show or agrees to certain PR appearances.
It was why many bands were always eager to play on Warped Tour in the US. There was always a litany of bands appearing at the festival while backed by a sponsor.
For example, the 2016 Warped Tour saw Vans partner with anti-smoking charity Truth and pop-punk band Motion City Soundtrack to play a series of shows on that tour. With the band backed by their corporate partners, they offered interactive sessions with fans, including games based on song titles and interviews with key members.
Striking up these sorts of partnerships allows bands to expand their fanbase exponentially without worrying about massive costs such as recurring travel fees.
Tips for Maintaining Brands Who Sponsor Musicians
As much as working to gain sponsors is pivotal, you must manage your brand and avoid getting caught in damaging pitfalls. Putting off potential sponsors and killing a deal only takes one wrong turn. And there are plenty of ways that this can stop sponsors from linking up with an indie act. So what should you avoid?
First, try to avoid any incriminating or damaging PR. These stories can kill deals as soon as they happen and can happen all too easily.
It all counts, whether making a careless comment on social media or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When a damaging PR storm swarms, you must control damage quickly to avoid sponsors pulling out of deals or going silent altogether.
That’s why you must always consider how you conduct yourself on any public platform to avoid being drawn into one of these unwanted controversies.
Don’t play the competition
When you get endorsed, you agree to represent a particular brand in one way or another. So what you mustn’t do is get cocky and think you can play rivals against each other.
All marketing execs will know who their main competitors are, and they never want to fall behind. And you shouldn’t get caught in the crossfire, either. This includes trying to play companies against one another.
If you get greedy and try to plug rival products at the same time, somebody is going to catch you. The consequences of this can be dire too. It could not only see both sponsors pull their deals with you but will put other potential suitors on alert about your lack of faith in a deal. So consider who you want to work with if handling multiple prospective deals.
No matter what you do as an active, you must stay involved in the industry to attract sponsors. And the minute you go quiet is the minute people switch off.
It will kill all your momentum if you have deals and an active profile and just shut down for months without a word. It will also lose your commercial deals and a large portion of your fanbase.
Taking these hits can cause serious damage to your career and may be impossible to return from. Therefore, think carefully about any planned hiatus and announce it clearly to signal your intent. This will keep potential sponsors watching you as an independent artist.
Wrap Up – Knowing How to Get Sponsors as an Independent Artist
There are plenty of ways to get sponsors as an independent artist. It all starts with knowing what your brand is and how to make your act stand out from the competition. This will help you prepare and create all the platforms necessary to thrive in your scene.
Once all this is in place, you can get performing and expanding networks and social media profiles to lure in potential sponsors from any possible realm. Opening this up will provide a way to get some cool new gear and even lucrative PR opportunities when given a chance.
As these endorsements land, you must stay clear of trouble and remain active to enjoy benefits. This allows your career to flourish and helps you be confident about getting sponsors as an independent artist.