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By Dr. Heidi Kay Begay
WHY OBTAIN SPONSORSHIPS?
As a modern-day musician, I often hear of creative artists who have trouble funding their next project. Whether they are trying to find funds for their teaching or performing residencies, their online platforms, or obtaining funds for their non-profit organization – it can be overwhelming and daunting to know where to look.
As an educator, flutist, podcaster, and non-profit organizer, I have gathered sponsorships for my creative projects and other musicians and non-profit organizations. Through these experiences, I have gained valuable knowledge I’d like to share with you.
If you are forming your next creative project or event and want financial support to help with the project’s cost and longevity goals, generating corporate sponsorships is one income stream for you to consider.
Why would any artist want to pursue corporate sponsorships? The benefits are many, but the four main reasons you would consider this avenue are the following:
- Making great business connections and building meaningful relationships.
- Helping with your project’s costs.
- Adding another income stream through your business portfolio.
- And elevating the corporation to reach its business goals.
BEFORE YOU REACH OUT…
Before you reach out to corporations in hopes that they will sponsor your next creative project, there are a few things for you to consider.
First, no matter your musical discipline (i.e., performance, education, composition, etc.), you need to understand your market and your project like the back of your hand. This is crucial for your success because questions surrounding your knowledge of the industry will likely turn up in future conversations with the business.
For example, as a podcasting musician, I must understand who listens to my Flute 360 Podcast, where and how they consume the episodes, who the top listening countries are, etc., because these are the questions that the corporation will most likely ask. Thinking of these potential questions and answers (ahead of time) could help boost your confidence and expertise while sharing the proposal with said company.
In addition to understanding the market well, your audience is another factor to know in-depth. For example, corporations may want to partner with your project or event because they can tap into your loyal audience. The people who consume your music, information, posts, etc., are the same people the businesses want to pursue. Therefore, if you know your audience’s demographics exceptionally well, your expertise and knowledge will be apparent when discussing these details with the said corporation. The business wants to ensure that your following aligns with its company’s brand and vision.
One best-kept secret is to know approximately twenty-five percent of your audience. Whether it be parents, students, amateurs, or professionals – understanding a quarter of your audience exceptionally well will ensure the potential sponsor’s confidence in you and your creative project!
Another aspect to consider organizing before you call the business is to write down twenty to forty value points that your project or event brings to the table. Seeing is believing! Write down these value points on a piece of paper, tablet or whiteboard. For example, ask yourself, “Why would this business consider sponsoring my music project or event?”
You need to be able to articulate the value that you not only bring to the community but the value you would bring to your newly founded partner. Again, knowing what makes you and your project unique will be a definite question that the corporation will ask in future discussions.
WHO TO CONTACT?
Now that you’ve gathered the facts, the next question usually is, “Who do I contact?”
At first glance, this question could appear overwhelming because there are endless possibilities. No matter who you contact, though, the most apparent characteristic that needs to be there is that there is brand alignment. So, ensuring this is true will narrow down your list substantially. Here are some pointers to guide you through the process.
Consider striking up a conversation with business owners with whom you already have an existing relationship. People typically partner and work with others whom they like and trust. Many musicians don’t consider these current relationships because they don’t want to come across as taking advantage of their business owner friends. This won’t be the case if the following advice is taken to heart. If there is a true win, win for both parties involved, and you genuinely know that you can serve each other through this partnership, you most likely won’t be seen as a malicious person.
Another source to consider is the businesses in which you’ve been the consumer. For example, is there a specific product or service you regularly purchase? If you (as the consumer) believe in the company’s offering, it will only feel natural for you to advertise their products or services to your audience.
Do you still need someone in mind? Don’t fret! Start building those relationships now so that an authentic union can form and the possibility for future collaborations can be considered! To reach this goal, make five new connections weekly through virtual or in-person means. Once you’ve initiated these five new conversations, allow yourself time to cultivate and eventually scale these relationships if there is alignment for both parties. If you need more information on how to go about this, please listen to Flute 360’s Episodes 173, 174, and 175 through your favorite podcast application!
On the flip side, don’t underestimate the power of a cold call. I encourage you to do so because I have seen cold calls convert for the non-profit organizations and clients I’ve helped. If you can clearly articulate the value you and your project bring to the table and how you can serve the company, then the chances of conversion will be higher.
Whoever you call, please remember that behind the corporation’s name is an owner who is passionate about their business. Like anyone, they have real aspirations, goals, and a budget. Be polite and courteous, and you will find yourself in good company!
PRESENT YOUR OFFERING IN A NICE PACKAGE!
Now that you know who you want to contact, it’s time to send an email!
Brevity is king. Most business owners and their marketing personnel are typically busy people. So, you want to explain your project or event concisely and why you are writing the company. Tell them what is unique about this opportunity and how you can serve them well through this possible sponsorship if they are inclined to accept.
Consider attaching documents that help paint the collaborative picture you describe in this email. This could include your upcoming teaching or performing schedule, content schedule, sponsorship form, and more!
Finally, if you or your organization has a direct website – consider including some of these website links, social media handles, or YouTube channels in the body of your email as embedded links. The benefit is that the company can obtain more information about you and the project.
As a musician, you have many creative ideas you want to breathe life into and share with your community. Don’t let the lack of finances be why these projects don’t influence your community. As you are creative with the project’s details, be just as creative with obtaining financial support to cover costs and add an income stream through your business portfolio; corporate sponsorships can fulfill this for you in these ways.
Lastly, please contact smaller to larger corporations for these upcoming partnerships. Don’t let imposter syndrome kick in and get the best of you. After working with top instrument makers, music apps, music festivals, and flute shops – I know from firsthand experience that businesses want to work with creative artists just like yourself. The Flute 360 podcast has worked with over thirty companies these past four years alone, and we are happy to share that the Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company will be the podcast’s exclusive sponsor for 2023!
A partnership like this did not occur overnight but took time to cultivate. I want the same success for you. Dream big, be strategic, and your next creation can not only be funded but you (the artist) can be supported financially, also through this income stream!
Heidi Kay Begay
Dr. Heidi Kay Begay is passionate about guiding the modern-day musician to find their unique voice on and off the stage. Heidi is the owner of two thriving companies, which include J&K Media Productions and Flute 360. Through her entrepreneurial portfolio, she wears many different hats, which include being an educator, flutist, coach, and podcaster.
She is the creator and host of two current podcasts. The first is Flute 360, which has received over 100,000 downloads since 2018 and has served flutists worldwide through its 225+ episodes. The second podcast includes The Pivoting Musician, which Heidi co-hosts with her colleague, Dr. Garrett Hope.
Throughout her business, she serves her clientele through different offerings, such as music lessons, coaching sessions, and her three digital courses, which include The Pivoting Musician, The Podcasting Musician, and Generating Income as a Podcaster Through Corporate Sponsorships. Heidi is thrilled to work with musicians to reach new heights, so they can feel empowered and have a life they love both on and off the stage.
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