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The Indie Initiative – Local & Regional Sponsorship

Ever wonder how that new indie buzz band got a sponsorship from Red Bull? Forget about it. They had a label, agent or sponsorship guru hook them up, and that's unlikely to happen to your project. But that doesn't mean that sponsorship is out of reach for you; even if your tour consists of your hometown and three neighboring colleges.

Think local. Instead of chasing a national brand, what local retailers fit your with your fan base? Whether it’s a tattoo parlor, motorcycle shop, yoga studio or clothing store, there is probably more than one store or brand that makes sense. Better yet, maybe there's a regional chain or brand that has multiple locations including some towns where you're strong and a few that you'd like to grow into. It might be a micro brew that's distributed in two states or a small restaurant chain with four locations.

Don't even think about asking them for money – at least at first. Think trade.

What if you recorded a song for their radio commercials or posed for a print ad? In return, you get credit ("that great song's buy…) and exposure in their stores. Maybe you co-brand a glossy color poster that you could never afford or some t-shirts to giveaway at gigs. Bands have gotten leased vans (with the sponsor's ad painted on the side), free or discounted clothing, printing services and truck repair.

Every deal is different, but all successful sponsorships must be mutually beneficial. It's unlikely the local music store needs you to attract more musicians. But a clothing chain that just added Doc Martins might agree that you're a great way to reach that demo.

Always remember your fans. Is the brand you're hooking up with something they can get behind? If so, you're probably OK. Not sure? Ask them.