When you think about the trajectory of your career, what do you think about? Do you envision yourself signing to a major label, touring the world, maybe playing the festival circuit? Do you think about hundreds of thousands of fans screaming your name when you step onto the stage? What about brand partnerships? Do you ever look at the incredible opportunities major artists have with some of the top brands and think “that’ll be me someday?”
I have good news for you—it can be you, and it isn’t as far away as you think.
For emerging artists across the world, brand partnerships are no longer a far fetched dream to lust after. Many artists are partnering with companies to help promote their products and grow their brands through a variety of avenues. So how can you get in on the action?
Be realistic in your partnerships
First and foremost, you want to be realistic in the partnerships you’re going after. If you’re an emerging band still building a following, it isn’t reasonable to expect Converse to sponsor you. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of incredible opportunities out there with your name on it. Take the time to get to know brands that are in the same lifestage as you, or just beyond that and figure out if they’re a fit for your brand and vice versa. (more on that in a moment).
While it might be tempting to skip ahead and try to go after the major companies, they’re not only less likely to take you seriously, but odds are, they really aren’t the right fit for you right now anyway. Plus, do you really want to have your first sponsorship be with a giant company when you have no idea what you’re doing and are still learning the ropes? Wouldn’t you rather pair up with other growing brands, navigate the early days together, and then be able to approach the big brands when you have a better sense of who you are, what you’re doing, and what the process is like and can truly give your best and make the most of it?
What you want isn’t just a chance at free shoes or bragging rights—you want a partnership that’s going to truly benefit both of you as your careers grow, and that means finding and building relationships with companies that can grow with you and whose audience will truly be interested in what you have to say—and vice versa. A lot of times the most fruitful long term partnerships come from those collaborations with companies and people who are also just starting out—so don’t discount those opportunities.
Understand your brand
Before you go seeking out or accepting any partnerships, you need to get really clear on what your brand is. This means knowing who you are, what you want your music and overall presence to say to the world, and what it is you stand for—as much as what you don’t. This is going to be crucial when it comes to partnerships because it will help ensure that you’re only taking on opportunities that support the same missions, lifestyles, and goals that you and your music represent.
For instance, if you’re a band that represents being eco-conscious in everything you do from the merch you make to the gear you bring with you on tour, then you probably wouldn’t want to partner with an oil and gas company or be seen drinking from a plastic straw.
Last, but certainly not least, be strategic in all your partnerships, as well as the opportunities that come from them. When you get the chance to partner with a company that you feel fits your message, don’t squander it and don’t breeze through it without truly thinking through how you can make the most of it. Just because the contract might say “make 5 social media posts with our product” doesn’t mean you just make the most boring posts possible and move on with your day and think “I’ve fulfilled my obligation, now I’ll just wait and see what they do for me.” That’s not how it works and it won’t lead to more partnerships.
This is an opportunity to really build your fan base as well as tap into the brand’s fanbase, so you want to be creative in the way you execute your part in the partnership. Not to mention, other brands will look to how fruitful your previous partnerships were when deciding if they want to bring you on to represent their own brand, so there’s a lot of incentive on doing well.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, and more, as well as the Co-Founder and Director of Community and Events for Music Launch Co. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.