The days of a wrapped tour bus with a brand logo are OVER. You may see them once in a while, but they are historical artifacts from old-school marketing.
Today, brands look for real engagement and premium content.
In this fractured and messy media environment, brands need to cut through the noise.
As tour support budgets dry up at major labels and more artists are making a name for themselves independently – establishing a solid touring base can be difficult without the help of extra funding.
I’m going to break down the steps an artist needs to take to get a tour sponsorship or endorsement from a brand.
I’ve worked with both the biggest brands and A-level artists. It’s crucial to understand the incentives and goals on both sides.
Pay close attention to each of these steps as they each are important to the process.
8 Steps I Use To Secure Millions In Concert Tour Sponsorship & Endorsement
When an artist finds the perfect match with a brand, the resulting relationship can turn into a long-term partnership. This should be the goal in most situations.
Understanding the goals of a brand is the key to securing a sponsorship.
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR FANBASE
First, every brand has a target consumer for their products or services. To determine if an artist is the right fit for a brand, the first step is to understand the demographic profile of the fanbase.
This is actually easy to determine. Most social media profiles provide this information.
Facebook insights is a great place to start. If you have a mailing list, have you collected demographic data on your subscribers?
Data is crucial in establishing a value proposition for a brand. Start here.
2. FOCUS ON FAN/CONSUMER HABITS – NOT YOUR INTERESTS
Most artists make the mistake of first focusing on their personal interests or products they like to use.
Why is this a mistake?
Well think about it, if a brand is going to spend their marketing dollars with you, they are usually trying to influence your fanbase.
Is your fanbase identical to you? Sometimes. It’s more important to understand the consumer habits of your fanbase and match those interests up with brands.
I will give you an example. A country artist might write a song about drinking tequila on a Friday night, and so they might believe that song to be a good fit for a tequila campaign.
Why is this wrong?
For example, a major tequila brand will likely have consumer research about their target demographic (let’s say drinking age millennials) and their media/entertainment habits.
Their research may show electronic music and festivals as most relevant to their consumer. So the brand will focus their marketing efforts in that direction based on consumer habits.
It’s important for an artist to have an authentic connection to a brand sponsor, but ultimately it needs to resonate with consumers.
3. FOCUS ON 5 BRAND TARGETS
Why only five?
Because you are not going to “spray and pray” to a large pitch list, you are going to craft incredibly creative, targeted and imaginative pitches for each brand.
Here is where we begin to focus on the brand’s GOALS.
How do you figure that out? Lot’s of research. Analyze the marketing efforts of the brands on your target list. Are they already engaged with music on some level? Have they sponsored a music festival? That is usually the first step a brand will take when engaging with music.
1. Artists appearing in advertising campaigns (endorsement)
2. Partnerships with media brands for content
3. Festival sponsorships
4. Tour sponsorships
5. Music video product placement
6. Event sponsorship
For example, If the brand is already engaged with product placement, but not tour sponsorship, you will need to build the case why a partnership with your tour will have greater impact than another video placement.
Brand marketing is all about opportunity costs. What are they forgoing by spending their money somewhere else?
Brands don’t need to sponsor artists.
It’s important to remember that brands have almost infinite options for their marketing dollars.
They also have sales people from websites, social media platforms, TV networks, apps, radio stations, sports teams, charities, etc, etc calling them asking for them to spend their marketing dollars
Common brand goals to consider
1. New product launch
2. Reach a new market/territory/demographic
3. Key time of year (i.e., back to school for retailers, Halloween for candy brands)
4. Competitive positioning
4. CREATE CUSTOM PITCHES
Once you believe that you’ve established an understanding of your target brand sponsors’ goals, you now create a pitch.
This is how you will get the brand’s attention. You are selling an idea, not your band.
Don’t rely on a brand to do the thinking. You need to do this in advance. They are busy and focused on their own goals.
What to include in your pitch
1. A clear description of the goal and end result you are proposing the BRAND will achieve by partnering with you (reach X amount of new consumers, generate X amount of social media engagement…)
2. Simple and precise tactics that will achieve the goal (X amount of social media posts by the artist, product sampling in X amount of tour markets…)
3. A full demographic profile of your fanbase along with social media numbers
4. Information on upcoming plans (album/single releases, tour dates, press appearances, etc)
5. Contact information
5. EMAIL, DON’T CALL
It’s not 1985. No one likes to receive surprise phone calls with someone trying to sell them something on the other end.
You want them to be ready for a conversation, so it’s best to contact by email.
Who do you contact? If you are reaching out to a brand directly it’s best to contact the Brand Manager, Director of Marketing or best – an Entertainment Marketing Executive if they have one.
Most brands that are active with music and entertainment have agencies specifically to handle this for them. You will also want to approach Account Directors at those agencies.
Sample email script
Hi Brand Manager,
As you know, an actual concert tour in EDM is rare. Most artists bounce around the globe between festivals and clubs. This fall, we are launching a tour with DJ ABC.
I know YOUR BRAND has been active in the EDM space with sponsorships at ABC and XYZ festivals. We’ve created a custom idea for you that will deliver a different set of results. By partnering with DJ ABC you can activate consumers in an innovative way.
We’re excited about the idea and would love to share it with you. It includes exclusive content, experiential activations and unique social media content.
I’ve attached DJ ABC’s deck. We’d love to discuss.
DJ ABC’s Team
Keep it short and sweet. Get to the point and get them interested. From there, you can schedule some time on the phone or in person.
6. BRAND MEETING
Once you’ve gotten a brand’s attention with your thoughtful, custom pitch, it’s time to meet in person or on the phone.
You should start this conversation with asking a million questions about the brand’s goals, current marketing plans, target markets, target demographics, challenges, etc.
Once you have this information and have established some rapport, you can know dive into pitching your idea.
Deliver the idea with passion. Use visuals if you can. Make sure to reference the brand’s goals throughout your pitch.
ALWAYS tie the idea back to the brand’s goals.
Tour sponsorship and partnership decisions don’t happen over night and they often require multiple levels of approval. Don’t expect to leave the meeting with a commitment.
Often a brand will task you with refining your pitch into a proposal that includes the new information learned at the meeting. That proposal will then get shared with all the internal stakeholders involved in the decision.
A great partnership will benefit both the brand and the artist. Pay attention to everything the brand says and be sure to reflect that in your follow up material.
7. FOLLOW UP
A well-crafted follow up is essential to closing the deal.
Write a nice email to your primary contact. Thank them for the meeting.
Restate their goals and challenges, and let them know that you are taking those into consideration as you re-craft your pitch into a proposal.
DO NOT ask them to commit to anything yet…..
From here you will re-work the material in your pitch to include the brand’s stated goals and challenges. Think about how the tour, and elements of the tour will help them achieve those goals or address those challenges.
Make sure to include:
c. Pertinent artist/tour details
d. Proposed pricing
e. Contact information
After you’ve completed the proposal, send it to the brand as a PDF (be careful of the file size).
Thank them again and lightly restate your excitement to work with them.
8. CLOSE THE DEAL
If the brand has interest, they will respond with many questions.
You will have rounds and rounds of questions. Do your best to provide thorough and realistic answers.
At a certain point, the brand will present you with an offer.
The offer will generally contain MORE deliverables and LESS money then you hoped for.
This is when you start to negotiate. Always keep in mind the brand’s original goals when negotiating.
If they start to lose value, they will no longer show interest in the relationship.
It is best to have an agent and manager work together on the negotiation in conjunction with a music attorney.
The better you understand the brand’s goals, the better you will be able to negotiate.
Once you reach an agreement in principle, ask the brand to put the business terms into a contract. This contract should be reviewed by a music attorney as there are many subtle details that need to be worked out.
Congrats! You now have a tour sponsorship. Closing the deal is really just the first step.
The artist and their team are now responsible to fulfilling all the deliverables in the agreement.
In bigger sponsorships, the brand will have an experiential agency handle the activation on the road and a PR agency handle the surrounding press and social media.
I like to say that’s it’s best to under promise and over deliver, but make sure you really do that! If the brand has a great experience they will likely want to extend the relationship into the future.
Use the success of one brand partnership to secure other brand partnerships in different brand categories (i.e., auto vs. beer).
Learning the world of brands is different and challenging, but a successful partnership is VERY rewarding.
Let me know in the comments about any experience you’ve had working with brands.
photo: Chris Romano