Finding sponsors for your music event is both essential and challenging.
It’s not easy to ask businesses or individuals to part with their hard-earned money – even if it is for a genuine advertising opportunity.
But sponsors are essential in providing cash flow for an event that doesn’t make money until you start selling tickets.
You must recognize that you’ll need to be paying deposits on artists, sound, security, rental fees, and more before you sell a single ticket. Securing sponsorship money allows you to get all your ducks in a row before the day of the event arrives. Otherwise, you might end up having to pay out of pocket, or pool together whatever resources you and other organizers have to make it happen.
The competition is steep for sponsorships – everyone from local musical theaters to marathons for charity are looking for business sponsors. There is no lineup of businesses waiting to sponsor events, but there is a lineup of events asking businesses to sponsor them. So, you must find a way to convince your prospective sponsors of the value of your event.
All that said, it’s certainly not impossible to get your event funded by willing partners. You just need to have the right pieces in place.
In this guide, I’ll take you through five key steps you’ll need to take to acquire and maintain sponsorships.
1. Plan Your Event Around Sponsors
This is something many event planners forget to do or don’t do at all.
They have a big vision for their event. There are certain musicians they want to book, certain emcees they want running the show, certain expectations around keeping it green or eco-friendly, certain attendance or donation numbers they want to meet, and so on. The problem is that these considerations may not be grounded in any sense of reality.
My advice would be to not get carried away with the vision side of things without applying realistic thinking to your plan, especially if this is your first time planning and running an event. Reality dictates that you’re not going to check all your personal boxes for a perfect event. You might, but odds are you won’t. So, having a backup plan for every aspect of your event is wise.
Think of it like Noah’s Ark. Noah onboarded two of every animal on his ark. So, for every primary contender, you should have a secondary one. For every musician you want to be at your festival, think of another that could fill their shoes. And so on.
Don’t make sponsors an afterthought. Instead, make them a part of your plan from day one. Consider what your event is about and what sponsors would complement it and be in alignment with it. For instance, a brewery sponsor might be a bad idea for a family oriented event, but would be great choice for a party-going crowd.
Don’t plan your event around you. Plan the event around your sponsors. Think like a businessperson would.
2. Develop A Sponsorship Offer Package
Before you approach any businesses, you’ll need to figure out what you have to offer them, how much money you’re after, and how you intend to promote your sponsors.
This is where a lot of people give up, because it sounds like a lot of work upfront. The effort you put into this, however, will be worth it. Keep it simple, take baby steps towards your goal, and you won’t feel overwhelmed.
Think of it this way – sponsors are essentially buying ad space from you. So, your goal is to develop a value proposition where their ads get the maximum number of impressions possible.
Here are several common ways you can promote your sponsors:
- You can get your sponsors to sponsor the stage.
- You can get your sponsors to sponsor a specific artist.
- You can put their logo or URL on tickets, signage, email messages, advertisements, radio, TV, websites, and more.
- You can mention your sponsors from the stage and thank them. You can also send out post-event thank you’s to your attendees (remembering to get your sponsors’ names/logos in front of them once more).
- You can provide booth space for the company at the event to sell their products or services.
- You can give them features in your event programs and handouts.
- You can mention your sponsors on social media.
- And more.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with this.
Maybe a company could sponsor and organize a beach volleyball tournament and provide some additional entertainment for attendees.
Often, companies will sponsor events by giving away their services for free – free food, free security, free merchandise, etc.
Create Different Tiers For Your Sponsor Packages
It’s smart to create several different tiers of sponsor packages. You can offer different packages from $50 all the way to $10,000+.
The more a sponsor gives, the more ad space they should be given and the more prominently they should be featured. It wouldn’t make sense to have a $50 sponsor sponsoring an entire stage, for example.
Have these various tiers available, but don’t make this information public. This can give sponsors leverage to negotiate with you, in order to get a better deal for themselves.
You can also offer perks to sponsors, like free tickets to the event, backstage passes, discounts, etc.
You may also have a sponsor appreciation Barbecue, or something similar. Oftentimes, festivals host volunteer parties, so just loop that in with the sponsor party to hit two birds with one stone.
Once you create your sponsorship levels, you need to put all the information together in a nice package.
Include things that sponsors would want to know, such as:
- What is your audience demographic? Would it match the business’ demographic?
- How many people will be at your event?
- How prominently will sponsor ads be featured, and where?
- How does your event tie into the community?
- Who else is sponsoring the event? Companies often like to one-up each other if they are sponsoring major events.
- And so on.
All of this information is essential for sponsors, as they have many offers coming in, and they want to pick the best fit for their businesses.
For certain targeted sponsors, you may want to tailor your sponsorship package to the business’ needs and desires, in order to make your event more saleable.
3. Sell Your Offer
Once you’ve developed your sponsorship package, you can start selling them to sponsors.
Make sure you have your proposal at the ready. Your proposal should:
- Look great. Print it on good stock paper with color images.
- Be well-organized. Have a table of contents. Split the pages into columns to make it easier to digest. Use bullet points and make it a quick, but detailed read.
- Focus on the benefits. Your sales proposal should focus on the benefits the business will reap from sponsoring your event. Businesses always want to know: “what’s in it for me?”. Answer this question upfront, if possible.
To sell your event, include detailed stats on past festivals (if applicable). Let them know what they can expect. It’s always easier to get sponsors for an event that’s three years old and has some traction, compared to a brand-new event.
Break down your audience by:
- How the event is perceived in the community (i.e. is it family friendly? Is drinking allowed? Is there adult content?).
- How far people travel to the event (some businesses rely on people traveling – gas stations, hotels, restaurants, etc.)
All of this data makes it easier for a business to say “yes” to you.
Having a great website for your event and a social media following will also help your case.
You can even include the social media info for the artists performing at the event.
Tell your sponsors about how you will be promoting their businesses.
4. Find Sponsors
You now have a great package and a solid sales pitch.
Next, you need to find sponsors. Here are a few ways to track down sponsors for your events.
Look In Your Existing Network For Potential Opportunities
It’s always easier to approach people you already have a relationship with.
Approaching businesses you’ve frequented in the past makes it far more likely for them to sponsor you. Your patronage makes a difference.
Look through your social media accounts and see where your friends are working. Use these connections to back you up in your efforts.
Obviously, if a business has supported you in the past, remember to reach out to them every year, so you don’t end up starting from scratch every single time.
Determine Which Companies Are Sponsoring Similar Events
If a business has sponsored music events before and seen results, they are far more likely to take a chance on your event.
This is a good way to find businesses who have already identified music events as a worthwhile place to advertise to their demographic. Look for businesses who your attendees are likely to utilize.
- Security companies.
- Fencing companies.
- Alcohol companies.
- Sound companies.
- Staging companies.
- Signage companies.
- Radio and TV stations.
You’ll need to contact these businesses to purchase their services anyways, so asking them to sponsor your event should be a natural extension of that conversation.
If you are running a community music event, there is a good chance the business would be open to donating their service in exchange for sponsorship time. This helps save a ton of money!
Get Help From Professionals
If you have the budget for it, hiring professionals to seek out sponsors is not a bad idea.
Securing sponsorships is a huge amount of work, and some people are just not good at it. There is no shame in hiring a good salesperson to sell your event, especially if they can help you secure some high-paying, high-profile sponsors.
5. Fulfill Your Agreements & Follow-Up
It doesn’t do you much good to make promises and then fail to fulfill them. If you do this, you’re going to earn a bad reputation as an event planner, and wreck the relationships you’ve worked so hard to develop in the first place.
If you know your sponsors are going to be at your event, roll out the red carpet for them. Make them feel welcome (also see earlier point about hosting a party).
If possible, demonstrate how you’ve fulfilled the agreement. Create a report for your sponsors with photos, videos, media coverage, or anything else that’s relevant. Businesses love concise reports that demonstrate the benefit of their partnership with you.
What matters most to sponsors is impressions. They know that getting their brand in front of an audience often isn’t enough to drive sales. They must repeatedly show up in front of the same audience for them to build awareness. This is why sponsors tend to like events, because they can keep getting in front of people all day long, whether it’s the same people over and over, or new and different people throughout the day.
Once you’ve put together a report, meet with your sponsors to talk about it. Talk specifically about how you kept your end of the bargain, and be transparent about what worked and what didn’t. Sponsors care most about return on investment (ROI), so don’t go into more depth than you are required to. Get to the point.
Once this is done, you’ve effectively laid the groundwork for future collaboration. It gives you a solid foundation from which to say, “can we count on your support again next year?”
How To Find Sponsors For Your Music Event, Final Thoughts
Having the right equipment but no sponsors is leaving money on the table. If you’re thinking about organizing a music event, especially a big one, you’re probably going to need sponsors. Sponsors are what will allow you to cover your costs and potentially make a profit. Breaking even should always be your top priority, as you don’t want to walk away with any unpaid expenses (especially expenses you can’t personally absorb). But it’s always gratifying when you can make money from your event, and it might be what keeps you going year after year.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time planning and organizing your event anyway, so you may as well make the most of it.