What Are Brand Partnerships and the importance of brands for an artist?
By now you’re probably used to seeing brand collaborations with musicians everywhere. Apart from being a way to further their promotion reach, this is also because in today’s developing digital age of music, income made from brand sponsorships and endorsements have become a large part of an artist’s overall earnings.
Working with brands can help you extend out to larger markets and audiences than you may not have reached otherwise. It’s also a chance to work with a company you are interested in and display common interests with your audience, whether it’s a fashion label, an instrument brand or something else. An endorsement connection is very valuable and gives another dimension of professionalism to your brand as an artist.
Some examples of brand partnerships with Universal’s artists are:
• Loyle Carner X Levis’
• Mabel X Topshop
• Jax Jones X Logitech
• KREPT & KONAN X Budweiser
• Ellie Goulding X WWF
• HRVY X JD Sports
BUT we want you to know that just because you’re an emerging artist, doesn’t mean that you can’t work with brands too. Due to the ability to promote content and manage a following on social media, independent artists can find and work with brands and companies more easily than ever. We’d love to see you working with these big brands too in the future, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
In this article, we will breakdown exactly what an endorsement deal is and tips on how you can form these partnerships as an upcoming artist.
So, what is an endorsement deal?
In short, it is a business arrangement, which provides a commercial return for the endorsee (the brand/company) and in exchange provides some sort of compensation to you (the artist). There is usually a balance between the company wanting to advertise through you and you have the endorsement and connection to their product.
When you are endorsed by a company, you are linking your name and reputation to them. You’re essentially giving them your nod of approval and showing your audience that you use their products exclusively. And you’re telling your fans that this product is worth spending money on. Endorsements are a more personal partnership than sponsorships and you hold more responsibility with the company’s reputation.
Because you’re saying you use this brand ‘exclusively’, means that you should not be endorsing more than one of the same type of product. Put simply, if you have an endorsement deal with one guitar company, then this should be the only guitar company you endorse. You don’t want to be partnering with brand competitors.
How do they work?
Think of an endorsement deal as a ‘win-win’ partnership. You will need to show the prospective brand that you are of value to them, that they can trust you and that you’ll be able to deliver results. It helps if you have a loyal and engaged fan base, but also a fitting fan base to their brand.
Both you and the brand will agree to certain terms. In an endorsement deal, you will usually be responsible for performing a list of duties such as including the brand’s logo on your website and using their gear at gigs, in exchange for the compensation you receive, such as free goods, discounts, or money. All terms should be clearly stated in a written agreement. Read this agreement carefully to make sure you understand the terms and are happy with everything required of you.
Find brands that align with your own
It’s important not to go into an endorsement deal blindly. Don’t enter it just because you want free stuff, (that you might not even get). Your goal is to support a company that is meaningful to you and have them support your music career. It’s important that the brand’s values and ideals align with your own otherwise fans and audiences will be able to sniff out ingenuine from the get to.
Nobody wants to seem as if they’re just advertising or ‘selling out’. HRVY partnering with JD Sports, for example, is a partnership that makes sense, seeing as his signature style centres around sports clothing. On the other side of things, you wouldn’t see an under 18 artist working with an alcoholic brand like Budweiser. You want to find a good match for you, one that has an audience similar to your fan base.
Think about it carefully and do your research. Build a list of companies that you are interested in, or share a similar audience to your fans. We recommend that you concentrate on smaller, independent businesses and even start-ups if you’re at an early stage in your music career. Seek out the brands that have a particular link to music, or programs designed for emerging talent – things like Converse’s Rubber Tracks, Air Bnb’s Music Experiences. Dream big, but be realistic and open to a variety of companies and industries and then the possibilities will be endless. Just always keep in mind that the brand should align with your own. For more advice on branding as an artist, read our blog post here.
Where to discover brands
There are various places to discover brands. Social media and online music forums are a great place to network. But firstly, make sure that you have a strong social media presence. Events such as trade fairs, like BBC Introducing Live’s annual event, are an ideal place to find brands and networks. Always have business cards to hand at gigs or any other events – you never know when a meaningful connection might happen! If you want to read more on networking, then check out our handy blog post on how to make meaningful connections in the music industry.
Write a persuasive pitch
You will need to write a persuasive pitch, outlining exactly why this partnership would be beneficial to both parties and why their brand aligns with yours. Make sure you attach your EPK with your best achievements – remember you are selling yourself. Always make sure to follow-up and don’t be disheartened if you get rejections.
• Endorsing a brand means you are associating your name and reputation to them; you are using them ‘exclusively’
• Having a loyal and engaged fanbase definitely helps secure one of these brand deals
• Have a written agreement and make sure you read it carefully
• Research – find a brand that is fitting to your values and ideals
• Be open to working with the smallest of companies
• Network and approach brands
• Send a persuasive pitch, sell yourself!