3 Things Musicians Should Avoid When Asking for a Sponsorship

Posted: August 2, 2013 in Artist Corner

How NOT to pitch a band sponsorship

Imagine you were running a business and you received an email from someone you didn’t know that looked like this:

“Hi, I do a lot of great stuff. Can you give me $10,000 or introduce me to any of your friends who might be able to?”

How would you feel? What would you think? Could you imagine a high profile artist such as Lady Gaga, Coldplay, or Adele sending something out like this?

Yet variations of this kind of message are being sent by artists every day. You can change out the dollar amount or even trade the sponsorship money for some kind ofservice like booking a tour — but the tone ends up being the same each time. In other words, it sucks. This kind of pitch does not work.

Let’s try that again…

Put yourself back in the seat of a business owner or marketing director. Now, imagine you received a message from a trusted colleague or friend of yours who writes:

“Hey! I just came across this amazing artist who’s doing some great work and would be a great fit for what you’re doing. Do you have a few minutes to go over this and see if it makes sense to work with them?”

Having a mutual contact or direct personal relationship makes a huge difference. It changes the dynamics of the email from a solicitation to a proposal for a partnership. In fact, this is so important that I dedicate an entire chapter in my book to building partnerships and finding others who can make the introduction for you.

Here are three things that you want to avoid when asking for a sponsorship:

1. Asking for too much, too soon: When you first write someone, you’ll find that it’s easier to get 15 minutes of their time rather than getting $15,000. Begin by asking for small things where you can also provide them with some kind of value first (marketing ideas, free promotion, etc.). In other words, give them a specific, compelling reason to return your call that can build the relationship so eventually you can both feel comfortable discussing larger proposals.

2. Being too vague or generic: One of the most important things you should learn is how to pitch your band. The more specific you are about what you want, the easier it is to get what you want. When you talk about your music, don’t use generic selling points like “unique,” “hard-working,” or “have potential.” Instead, use actual information that proves you are unique, hard-working, or have potential. For example, “we’re an acoustic duo that has done four national tours using only mountain bikes and backpacks for traveling, which has led to a feature on NPR.”

3. Talking about yourself too much: 80% of your communications should be about their company, brand, or organization and what you can bring to the partnership.  Before you begin pitching ideas, get them to talk about their goals, their audience, and what they want to accomplish. If your ideas are based on their goals, you’ll be much more effective than if you just sent a generic proposal asking for money in exchange for logo placement.

Remember, one of the top reasons why your sponsorship request will be rejected is because they don’t know who you are. So, take the time to develop those relationships. You wouldn’t propose to someone before at least asking for a first date, just as you usually wouldn’t ask someone to risk investing time and money into your career without talking to them first. Learn how to pitch your band to entice them. Give them a reason to want more, to hear your story. After that, you can begin talking about a partnership.


Author bioSimon Tam is the President and Founder of Last Stop Booking, author of ‘How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements,’ and performs in dance rock band The Slants. Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at www.laststopbooking.com. He is on Twitter @SimonTheTam


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