It’s a long road working in music. It can take years before someone’s income is sourced completely from the industry. Bands, photographers, graphic designers, engineers, and anyone else that wants to dedicate their career to music could always use a little bit more cash. Sponsorships and endorsements can help increase funds as well as career growth.
Anytime a logo shows up on a tour poster, music video, etc. that is a sponsorship. It is a passive way for the organizers and owners to get paid. The brand has made a decision to align itself with the band or artist and is making an effort to further market to their audience. It does not necessarily mean that the artist(s) themselves are partnered with the brand or vouching for its reputation. Additionally, artists and creators can be sponsored at the individual level for things like camera lenses or drumsticks even if they are part of a larger collective.
Endorsements are much more involved and should be an important, strategic decision by the artist and their team. The person(s) involved in an endorsement are saying they personally support whatever they are promoting and encourage its use. If something goes wrong for the brand, the artist(s) could be held personally liable or at least be socially persecuted for associating themselves. Ensure that the company or organization you want to work with has values and people you personally support before signing the dotted line.
A sponsorship or endorsement deal is a business arrangement, which results in a return for the sponsor/endorsee and in exchange provides an ‘in kind’ or cash benefit to the artist or creator.
Once the sponsorship is secured, the hard work really starts. So before deciding to go down the sponsorship or endorsement route, consider the following questions:
- Do you work with other creatives as part of a larger group that is being sponsored? If so, are they supportive of this decision? Do they fear being perceived as having ‘sold out’? It is essential that all band members and crew are willing to support the sponsorship/or ‘collective’ endorsement.
- Does the group have a Sponsorship Policy? If not, creating one ahead of soliciting deals is a crucial first step. A policy can include the purpose of the sponsorship, administrative processes (ie: approvals, review, etc.), and specific limitations relevant to the personal beliefs of each member (ie: not supporting tobacco industry)
- What are additional plans outside of this endorsement or sponsorship? What marketing efforts are you going to do to promote it? Who is involved in that process?
Getting an endorsement or sponsorship, though very enticing, is a crucial step in legitimacy for any artist or creator. The brands that you work in at any point in your career should align with what you believe and what you want to accomplish.