Music sponsorship & endorsement, iron age guitar accessories

Sponsorship - How To Get One + Do's & Don'ts

October 01, 2016

Here's a question that I'm sure many new & aspiring musician have as it's one that often finds its way into my inbox. It's "How do I get endorsed", "Do you offer music sponsorship", or sometimes "Can I have free stuff". The last one usually coming off as irrelevant.

So I figure I can give some insight into your question & point you in the right direction. This is from a business owner's point of view and so hopefully it can get you closer to get you that sweet & revered deal. After all, everyone wants to get their name out there, and having a music sponsorship can be a great perk of being a professional musician.  

So first of all, what is a music sponsorship? Well, lets put our businessman hat on for a sec and simply call it a business partnership. I would describe it as a trade in value, as in  "You scratch my back, I scratch yours". It's a win-win for both parties but as long as both are getting well ahead. The biggest benefit to be found, is the perceived association of being seen together.

Not only that, but it can also add to your credibility as a musician. Once you have an endorsement or music sponsorship, often times it can make it easier to pick up another one. So to get the company to give you the thumbs up & support your endeavors , you'll have to represent them in a positive light & display their flag proudly so to speak.  

What a sponsorship is not. If you're out looking for a deal that will give you free products, you might be in for a let down as that's rarely granted. To get free products or signature models just for you, that sort of thing, will take quite a while as you build your relationship with the company. Yes, it's more work as with everything in life.

You'll have to work on yourself as a musician and work on building this relationship before being eligible to receive those types of benefits. So all in all, a music sponsorship is not a giveaway or a catering service to you. However, with some dedication you can someday reach that level of acclaim.  

So what's the most important thing to bring to the negotiation table? Frankly, it's your mindset.

The one thing to keep in mind through all of this though, is to have a "giving" mentality. By providing value up front, you will stand out with preeminence.

If you kick off the interaction with a "what's in it for me" mindset, it's likely that you've already lost the deal. You need to come prepared with an offer of value as if you were already working with this company. What you want to start off doing, is building a relationship by being loyal to their product or service & sharing in their values. You don't have to own their entire product list, but just a couple items you use regularly here and there. Starting the relationship has been made so much easier nowadays too with the help of social media. All you have to really do is be actively engaged with the brand.

Start by finding the social media platform they use most regularly & just chat here and there, be interested, and get to know more about them. Once you've got an idea of who's behind the other side of the screen, you can casually bring up the topic of endorsement & let them know you'll be submitting an application shortly. This just makes the request more personable so you're not just another entry form in the sea of thousands.

The one thing to keep in mind through all of this though, is to have a "giving" mentality. By providing value up front, you will stand out with preeminence, rather than blend in with the masses that are all about "me me me".  This means don't ask for free stuff up front, or if they can do this or that for you. If you show them that you can be an asset to their company, you'll be one step closer to getting your foot in the door.  

Value you say? What would a company or brand consider valuable?

Now, a sizable following of fans is great but having a strong relationship with a smaller audience can carry its own weight. It's simply the principle of quality vs quantity.

While being incredibly skilled can be one way to show your worthiness, but please note that it's actually not a requirement!

As a musician, having a fan-base is certainly one of the prime considerations. If you're aspiring to be a professional musician,  this should be one of your top priorities to work on. This goes for both online & offline fans. Your offline fans might be limited to your local area but growing online is something new & that anyone can accomplish nowadays.

Need more fans? Share your music wherever you go, have giveaways, interact with other pages, and generally market yourself. In this regard, the most important thing to do is to treat yourself as your own brand. You are the CEO, your music is your product, and your customers are your adoring fans.

Now, a sizable following of fans is great but having a strong relationship with a smaller audience can carry its own weight. It's simply the principle of quality vs quantity.

Sure some people might have 100k followers but upon further inspection it's easy to see if they're actually engaged or just a number. What you want is not just followers as a number but, fans who actually care & interact with you on a regular basis. Once again, it's the connection & relationship that matters - Quality vs Quantity.  

Fans are good, but lets look at alternatives

If you've got a small following, fear not. You can also offer value by providing a skillset, bonus points if it can be used for marketing purposes. Photography or video editing skills are a couple big ones, with sound recording being tied into video creation. This is big stuff, especially nowadays with everything going digital & done through social media. All it takes here is a well-made 1-3 minute video such as the one Roxas did for us here:

 

Here's another great one by Charles Caswell from Berried Alive. This not only provides value to Iron Age, but also fellow guitarists looking to install a similar switch. It's for this reason that we're also proud to share it wherever we can & give back in return.

 

Another video option is to do a demonstration like the one this 13 year old rockstar, Collin Katz, did here:

It's user generated content like this that brands are always on the lookout for. It's not only helpful for them, but it can also be a great way to get promoted & featured like I've done here. Seriously though, check these three out!  

Next up is blogging

If the brand has a blog, you could offer a couple of quality posts or links back to their site. That's if you've already got experience writing blog posts, or are especially knowledgeable in a certain topic.

This again ties in with "user generated content" which as far as business marketing goes, is a huge plus. This too has its own benefit because giving a link & receiving one in return will help "SEO" for both websites, which means high rankings in search engines, and more traffic to your sites.

Again, here's a few examples I'm happy to share with you :)

Paul Ozz

James Hamilton @ The Pick

Chris & Marrisah @ Carters Talk Tone

& last but not least,

Brendan @ Guitar Gear  

 

Having a press release package or media kit is important

This is a kit that essentially works as your resume that some companies might request. It's also something that venues like to see when booking a new band so you might already have one. If you don't have a press kit, here's a few things that should be included.

  1. First thing you need is a brief overview & artist biography. It's a good idea to do a condensed version done in a single paragraph, as well as a longer and more in depth version. Four or five paragraphs for the latter should be sufficient. This way you can pique interest with the overview & then have more information available for those looking into your fine details. Don't forget to include all you numbers in terms of fans, gigs played, upcoming gigs, and social media followers.
  2. Next is some photos of yourself or the band, but be sure they're high quality pictures. If you can hire a photographer or know a friend who's got some skills, definitely seek them out. Do not skimp out on providing quality shots, Photography Matters.
  3. The obvious here is to also include samples of your music. Pick out your most popular songs or the ones that best represent your act. If you've got videos, they should also be included. Remember, the point is to be professional, so including something shot in the dark & with a phone's camera will likely hurt your credibility instead of help you out.
  4. Include album reviews or any notable mentions you might have in magazines. If you have some notable achievements, this is the place to include them. This is again to show that you are credible, because companies want to work with musicians who are serious about what they do.
  5. Lastly you need to add all your contact info like email, phone number, and a couple of your social media handles. Most of this stuff can be found online so you could actually do a digital press kit. You can do this by simply making a website that has all this info already on it and submit the link to the companies or venues when asked.

Overall a press/media kit is just a consolidation of everything "you" that might interest "them". It is like a resume of sorts so you want to make sure it's good & presentable. 

Also, you might also be asked questions like "Why you want the music sponsorship", "Why you would make a great fit", and that sort of thing so be prepared.  

Well there you have it

That's just a few ways that you can add value right off the bat. With that in mind, you can begin to see all the options available that could be brought to light in the eyes of the sponsor. It's really up to you and your creativity on what you accomplish.

Once you've got a couple of these down, you'll be ready to convince the company that you'll be a good fit in the partnership. Like I said, it's always good to first interact with the company & get to know them a little bit. This is to build the relationship which again is the absolute most important aspect of a music sponsorship.  

Final tips: Focusing on just endorsements or music sponsorship while starting out is NOT the right way to go about it. If you're a new musician, try to focus instead on the things that will make such a partnership happen more naturally. This means putting forth the effort on building a strong following, booking consistent gigs, & producing outstanding music. Be sure to put the horse before the cart, not the other way around. That is to say, you must build a strong foundation for your career as a musician, and in a way, that will make others want to work & associate with you.  

Music Sponsorship - Do's & Don'ts

Do:
  • Treat yourself as a business, you are your own brand. (very important)
  • Build a relationship with the company beforehand
  • Work on increasing your fan-base, booking consistent gigs, and creating great records.
  • Provide value up front as if you're already associated with the brand.
  • Have a press kit or a dedicated website prepared, you might need one to consolidate all your details.
Dont's:
  • Ask for free stuff or have a "what's in it for me attitude", give & you will surely receive in return.
  • Get unmotivated if you're rejected, It can take 3-6 weeks to get your application reviewed.
  • Re-submit your application a dozen times hoping to increase your odds.

The bottom line is that a music sponsorship is a partnership, & built on a strong relationship. Carry yourself as if you were already endorsed by the company & make yourself a valuable asset to the company.

This will make the progression much more natural & your odds of being officially sponsored will be much much higher when it comes time to submit your application. Thank you for reading, I hope you found this information & perspective useful. If you have any questions or comments, please comment below. Suggestions & personal accounts that would help out endorsement seekers are welcome!

 

PS Iron Age is not currently accepting endorsement applications until 2017 



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