This is the first in a new series of articles examining the various tools music artists should be using to advance and grow their careers. The goal is to introduce artists to these tools while explaining how they contribute to helping an artist’s career, how to use them, and common misconceptions about each item.
All music artists are looking for ways to make more money but a lot of them aren’t aware of some of the tools that exist to help them increase their income. One of the most common questions I field from artists has to do with how they can get sponsorships. They know businesses are out there sponsoring everybody from artists to athletes but many have extremely limited knowledge in how those sponsorship agreements actually come about.
Simply put, they don’t know about sponsorship decks.
WHAT IS A SPONSORSHIP DECK?
A sponsorship deck (SD for short) has three primary purposes:
1. To show how the artist’s fans and the potential sponsor’s customers are made up of similar demographics (i.e. age, income, interests, etc).
2. To detail how exposing the artist’s fans to the potential sponsor’s business will be beneficial to the potential sponsor.
3. Providing the potential sponsor with several choices from which they can decide how deep of a commitment they want to make in working with the artist.
All of this information is then organized and written up before being added to a high-resolution PDF booklet that serves as the actual sponsorship deck. The artist can then choose between e-mailing the PDF to a potential sponsor or, even better, having it printed and bound to create a professional looking PHYSICAL booklet than can be handed to a potential sponsor.
I can’t stress this enough: sponsorship decks typically include a lot of images of the artist. The images help sell you as being a professional at what you do. So be sure to gather up your most current pictures (taken by a pro photographer!) because they will play a big part in what the finished product looks like.
HOW IT MAKES (OR SAVES) YOU MONEY
If a business you are targeting as a potential sponsor looks at the SD and determines that a partnership is beneficial to them, they will agree to become a sponsor. The artist does what they say they will do in the agreement (i.e. social media shout outs, including the business’ logo in CD inserts, giving away a gift card for the business at shows, etc) and, in exchange, the sponsor pays the artist. This is known as a monetary sponsorship.
There is, however, another kind of sponsorship that can spawn from a SD that helps artists in a different way: an in-kind sponsorship. This is when a business becomes a sponsor but, instead of paying money, the business gives the artist an amount of product equal to the sponsorship’s value. An example would be a clothing store giving you merchandise instead of paying you money. While it isn’t cash in your pocket, it does remove the need for you to buy something that you needed any way...so the impact on your bottom line is the same.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SPONSORSHIP DECKS
A lot of artists believe (incorrectly) that they have to have more than a small local following before approaching potential sponsors. That is not true. Even if your following is small, it still carries a level of value. Will major retailers want to become sponsors in this case? Probably not. However the local businesses you frequent on a daily or weekly basis are far more likely to take advantage of the offer because if your following is mostly local, there is a greater chance of one of your fans actually walking through their front door. Plus you might have the added bonus of an emotional attachment if you have been a loyal customer to that business for an extended period of time.
It is important to point out that these local level sponsorships usually won’t be lucrative but that little bit of money coming in each month from five or six local businesses can be a game changer for a band in its early stages. That money can help you record your EP or fund a regional tour for a week or two.
Another common misconception a lot of artists have is that their music career doesn’t have enough momentum to attract a potential sponsor. You would be amazed by how many things can be monetized in this manner; everything from you doing social media posts and check-ins at the business, mentioning the business at the end of your YouTube videos, inserts advertising the business slipped into the CDs you sell at shows, putting the sponsor’s name on the back of t-shirts you are selling during a tour, etc. The possibilities can boggle the mind.
WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR WHEN HAVING A SPONSORSHIP DECK MADE
A lot of talents have to be utilized to create a great sponsorship deck. Not only do you have to work with somebody capable of looking at your music and finding creative ways to monetize it, there is also a lot of professional writing (and editing) involved as well as graphic design work. The person heading up the project also has to possess the business sense to properly position and pitch you via the SD.
WHEN SHOULD AN ARTIST CONSIDER A SPONSORSHIP DECK
There are many “right times” to get one done. Here are some examples:
1. When you are thinking about recording a new EP or CD: The sponsorship effort can be centered around the creation and recording of the music (i.e. behind-the-scenes videos brought to you by the sponsor). You can also find multiple ways to monetize the inevitable EP/CD release party. Doing this at the onset of the EP or CD’s creation can give a band a much needed financial boost before setting foot in the studio.
2. When you are thinking about going out on tour: Even if you are just thinking about a two-week tour around your side of the state, the monetization opportunities are vast. Exclusive video of the band out on the road can have a sponsor’s name attached. You can mention them during radio interviews while the tour is going on. If you somehow land a television interview during the tour, you can wear a shirt with the sponsor’s logo. You can place a large sticker promoting the sponsor’s business on the trailer hauling your equipment.
3. When seeking general sponsorships: Less specific than building something around a new EP/CD or a tour, this is more generalized and focused on what the artist is doing on a daily basis. This is great for artists who already have active social media accounts with high levels of engagement (note that I said engagement and not high levels of followers).
Taking this approach has another advantage in that you can build up a great working business relationship with the sponsor now so they will be more likely to jump on the kind of sponsorship mentioned in points 1 and 2. That means you could have them sponsoring you across several ventures.
A SPECIAL OFFER FOR READERS
Rocket to the Stars Artist Services is offering readers 10% off ALL services, including sponsorship decks. To take advantage of the offer, head over to our website store by clicking HERE and use coupon code “RTTS” when checking out!
ABOUT WADE SUTTON
With clients in major cities like Nashville, New York, London, Sydney, and Toronto, Rocket to the Stars’ Wade Sutton has dedicated his life to helping music artists in all aspects of their careers.
Armed with nearly twenty years of professional radio and journalism experience, Wade now provides an array of services to artists, including the writing of biographies and press releases, the creation of press kits, websites, and sponsorship decks, media interview preparation, and more.
In 2014, Wade teamed up with former Taylor Swift manager and Big Machine consultant Rick Barker to co-author The $150,000 Music Degree. His upcoming second book, Hacking Music: The Music Business Model Canvas is co-authored with John Pisciotta of Jetpack Artist Ventures in Nashville and will include contributions from some of the top people in the industry, including Lady Gaga producer Rodney Jerkins.
In addition to being an advocate for music artists, Wade is also an active speaker. He has appeared at several workshops in Nashville and will be a featured speaker during the 2018 Music Entrepreneur Conference at Harvard University. His strategies have been featured on websites such as CD Baby, Discmakers, and Indie on the Move.