So you’ve been making an impression on the local scene— perhaps even the tri-state area—but as all Generation DIYers do, you still want more! You have a CD, merchandise, a pretty full touring schedule but still lack that national recognition. What’s the next step? Well, this week’s “Generation DIY” ventures into sponsorships and how you can get behind a company to not only gain some national fame but also spread the word on your favorite brand. With that being said, let’s roll up our sleeves and get down to the nitty gritty.
First off, let’s define and make sure that we all know the difference between a sponsorship and an endorsement. Sponsor: a person who vouches or is responsible for a person or thing. Endorse: to approve or back openly. NOW, the difference between the two is that a company SPONSORS YOU and you ENDORSE their PRODUCT/BRAND. Remember, a company won’t endorse you—they sponsor you in order to sell more products through your fanbase.
As a fellow musician, I suggest the first thing each of you looking to endorse a product should do is find a brand that you personally love and can stand behind. A positive connection to a product will definitely show through when you spread the word whether you’re on stage, in a commercial ad or networking online. So ask yourself, what brands do you use for strings, drum heads, sticks, guitar picks, etc. Once you can narrow down the equipment that you love using, and will continue to use throughout the years, then you can begin thinking about inquiring about a sponsorships. For instance, I use Fender for electric guitars and Takamine for acoustic, as well as Ernie Ball strings. Since I have used these brands for many years, I can get behind these companies and suggest their products to fellow musicians who are in the market for something new. When a company considers sponsoring an artist, one question they always ask is , “Can the artist sell more units for us?” If the answer is “Yes” then you are well on your way.
Now, let’s talk about WHAT the company you want to endorse is looking for. It’s extremely important to have a CD that is doing well in terms of sales. It could be online or in stores, but it has to be something that has some clout behind it. Also, a heavy touring schedule is extremely important when it comes to sponsors. A company LOVES seeing artists on the road that are playing gigs every night in different markets promoting their product because it’s free promotion in the end. And, it’s a simple way to gain some recognition and get some free products to hand out at shows. Most bands will shoot for clothing lines or drink companies as their first sponsors since they’re “easier” to connect with than a gear company. One way to get in touch with these companies (if you’re in college) is by making friends with the College Reps who visit different campuses to giveaway free samples of their product for new promotions. Best example is Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar. I see these three companies everywhere, especially with touring bands.
As long as you love the product, the brand and can confidently suggest it to friends, family and fans, then you’re on the right path. Don’t be a “sellout” and endorse a product just because it’s free publicity and profit— money is great but in the end your reputation is more important. Keep it intact and people will stand behind you for years to come.
Good luck Generation DIY. Keep that hustle going!