It’s no secret that making it as an independent musician can be tough. Recording fees, promo costs, equipment costs, merch, touring and transportation expenses, countless Chalupas from Taco Bell – it all adds up. Consider yourself lucky if your income-to-expense ratio is equal.
To help combat the never-ending pile-o-bills, it makes sense to seek out additional sources of income to help offset your expenses. So, other than selling your prized baseball card collection from 1986, looking for endorsement deals and sponsorship is another option.
Acquiring endorsement deals requires some serious commitment and effort, but hopefully we can offer a few tips to help guide you through the process.
First of all, you need to define who you are and what you have to offer. Ask yourself these questions:
1. How would you define your band’s sound and style?
2. Why do you want to endorse said company’s stuff (equipment, beverage, merchandise)?
3. What value do you bring to the table? (How many shows per year do you play? How many friends do you have on Facebook? Do you have a solid website? Do you have a substantial email list? Did you just win some super-rad song award? Do you make videos on YouTube that get tons of views? What well-known artists have you shared the stage with?)
Next, do your research. Compile a list of companies that you believe in and identify a contact. Also, tap into your existing resources (like fellow band members) to create a list of everyone they know and potential businesses to start with.
Next step is to create your pitch. This will includes your answers to the above questions (who you are, what you have to offer, what you want from the company and how you can benefit the company) and your artist one sheet. Remember, these companies don’t necessarily care about what they can do for you, but what you can do for them or what you can do together. Here are a few things to consider when pitching companies for endorsement:
Stand out – it’s likely that that the company you are going after receives multiple inquiries a day on the same subject so find a unique (but succinct) approach. Whether it’s a catchy email subject line or a hand-delivered, gift-wrapped pitch package, be memorable.
Present an idea – offering up a suggestion on how you and the company can mutually benefit right away from a partnership makes the process easier on you and them. Tell the breakfast chain restaurant on your tour route that you’ll invite all of the people in your audience to their restaurant after each show in exchange for free food for your band on the road. Tell the energy drink company that you’ll put their banner on the top of your website in exchange for a case a month. Record a holiday song using nothing but Company X’s equipment and offer them the exclusive MP3 single to give to their customers in exchange for discounted gear.
Think outside the box – Everyone is going after Red Bull and Gibson and Fender. Don’t be afraid to approach their lesser-known competition.
Once you’ve got your pitch perfected and your contacts collated, the next step is to get out there and start asking! Sure, there’s a chance you’ll hear a few no’s the first time around, but there’s also a chance you’ll hear yes.
– Molly King