What would a brand deal do for you?
If you've spent some time in the music industry then there's a good chance you noticed a few things that you never want to be called.
Some words so despicable it's pretty much spitting in the face of your brand and artist image you worked o hard to build.
One of these words is sellout.
You might have read that word and felt disgusted, but there is something that needs to be said.
There is a huge toxic mentality many artists have that if you are super focused on getting money in the music game you are some sort of sell-out.
I'm going to start by saying that this cannot be further from the truth.
Nobody can deny that making money through music isn't just a positive, it's one of the main goals. Who wouldn't want to have a successful career in the music industry?
Brand deals are the best way to get this done, and it doesn't make you a sellout- it makes you an Instagram influencer.
The benefits are simply too amazing to not consider:
- You can make decent money
- You will form important connections
- It opens doors for future deals
Now, before we look deeper into what is a brand deal and how to get them, let's first dive into what you can expect from a brand deal and pin-point how it can work for you.
how brands find instagram influencers
I'm going to start this one off with a story.
Let's say there's a company out in the world that sells producer drum kits, we will call it BoomBapz (not related to any real company).
The BoomBapz company works day and night to produce the best quality drum kits you can find on the planet! Now they want to get their sales way up but struggle to reach targeted producers.
They're spending hundreds of dollars a month on ads upon ads, but these campaigns never truly seem to reach real purchasers.
what is a brand deal?
In order for BoomBapz to get the sales and proper awareness for its product, they decide to pay producers online to market the kits to their audience.
First they find influencers, then pitch the opportunity to them (this doesn't happen to producers with small followings)
Voila! What you have here is a brand deal.
The idea is that both parties are going to walk out of the deal having benefited since the artist (called an influencer in this case) gets the chance to make some money while also presenting a great product to their community.
BoomBapz hires the influencer and gets really targeted influencer marketing which could mean a few extra sales so it's a positive for the brand as well.
Also, don't worry about being called an influencer- this is not a bad thing.
The first thing you think of when you picture an influencer is a hot babe in bikini pics, but a lot of influencers are just people that are well-known in their niche.
what to expect from sponsorship ADVERTISING
The greatest thing about getting a brand deal is financial compensation.
Have you ever given your musician friend's new music a shout-out or promotion on your page? I'm sure we've all done it. We just spoke a little bit about the music to be released and tagged them.
Now take that to another level, picture yourself doing this but instead you get paid money for it. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal right?
That's because it is! As the influencer, you are going to get paid for these partnerships.
But that's not all that happens.
When you do brand deals, it's so much easier to get more and more brand deals since you now have the sponsorship experience under your belt.
This will matter when I show you how to negotiate great brand deals as you continue reading.
Where brand deals take you?
What if you woke up today, logged into your bank app and saw $1'000'000 cash in your checking account.
You would be the happiest artist on the planet! That's a great sum of money.
If I asked you what the first thing you would buy is, you might say a car, a house or even a trip to Gucci for a spending spree (which really should be your LAST priority.)
This is all fine and dandy for the average person but as a music entrepreneur, you need to use your resources in a different, more strategic manner.
Here are a few music investments that could be bought with the million dollars:
- Studio time
- Better promotions
- Props for music videos
- Hiring managers and PR crew
- A whole bunch more
Without the million dollars, you wouldn't be able to buy any of this.
Now let's see how this can apply to you, because if you're reading this you most-likely don't have a million laying around, lets just be honest.
We can bring this budget all the way down to a thousand dollars.
Although it's not as extravagant and as wonderful as a million, there are still a bunch of ways you can invest in your music career and see growth at a $1,000 budget.
You're probably saying, "but I don't even have an extra $1000". No worries, this is where it gets really fun.
You see, the average brand sponsorship deal is around $300 (there are many different factors at play). That means if you do three brand deals you will have roughly $900.
With that extra money that you can invest in your music career and finally moved closer to seeing the growth exposure recognition that you deserve.
That's the value in brand deals, it can work as a great stepping stone to your music career.
Even if you don't think about the money aspect, you get the opportunity to network and connect with top brands in the music scene through a brand deal.
Many doors will open up for you.
I'm not against working a nine-to-five but if your goal is to make music full time you 100% must look into and consider it.
There is a lot of money to be made through these deals.
How to get started with brand deals
Getting started is the easy part, the hard part is continuing.
Getting a brand deal is not as easy as the average artist thinks- there are many steps that need to be followed successfully.
What generally happens it the unsuccessful artist is this:
- You go into the pursuit of a brand deals
- You don't find any success initially
- You decide to just give it a break for now
- You say f**k it and forget about it
- You start to hate brand deals
- You tell others that brand deals are "corporate" or "going Hollywood"
Before I get into it I should just warn you: it's going to be a hard journey.
Fortunately, as soon as you get it going, it's all downhill from there.
Why would a brand want to work with you?
No matter what you hear people say, brands are not fundamentally evil.
I know there is a misconception that brands are out there to use you. Listen, they aren't out there to dominate the industry and hold you down.
The whole purpose of a brand is to make money (I mean, it's still a corporation at the end of the day, so you must treat it like so).
That brings me into the next point: for a brand to want to work with you it must see that you conduct yourself professionally in your music career.
The first place where a brand will determine if they might want to work with you is your social media profile.
If they just take a quick glance and see things on your page that aren't up to their brand's standard then you have no chance at this. The best and biggest social media influencers have great profiles.
We are now going to get into the 14 steps to getting a brand deal.
#1 Set a good Theme
Try to create a consistent theme with all of your posts and make it very distinguished. You should have a set look to it.
You can create a theme by using certain color palettes. For example, Boost Collective has green as the main theme color.
Another great way to set a theme is by choosing a distinct filter or post style.
#2 Select a standard post Style
This is very important when it comes to getting brand deals.
What's your general posting style? Mainly selfies? Photos of you in the studio? Or just photos of you just enjoying life?
There are many post styles and it's important when brands look at your profile and determine how clean-cut it is.
#3 Build an Aesthetic
Having a proper aesthetic is super important. A good aesthetic means that there's a general look/appeal to the page. All top Instagram influencers know this.
You can develop this by presenting the appeal of your specific genre in your posts.
A good example of different aesthetics would be like New York in comparison to LA.
Different types of artists, thus different aesthetic.
Music is an entertainment industry so keeping things appealing is the name of the game. A good aesthetic strikes a good impression on your page visitors.
#4 Go understanding your audience
You must fully understand your audience.
By 'audience', I mean your following as a whole across all social platforms.
You need to really dig deep and see exactly what kind of people are following you and classify them.
This is an important step when you are pitching your deal proposition to the brands; they will want to know what kind of audience you have.
Some key demographics that you should take note of are:
- The age of most of your followers
- Where most of your followers are located
- Certain tastes and preferences in your audience
- Instagram analytics
We included this in our sample Media Kit, you should look at it as a reference when making your own media kit.
Also, please don't buy a bunch of bots and fake accounts to follow you and drive the numbers up.
There is a site called Hypeauditor that can check if there's bots being used. Check it out for your favourite artist's profiles.
The misconception artists have is that bots are going to help them by giving higher numbers and more respect.
It actually has the opposite effect; when the brands see that your engagements are disproportional to your following they'll see right through your plan.
It's always better to have highly engaged but fewer followers rather than millions of followers but no engagement.
#5 use proper tagging
We go over this many times in our fan interaction guide because it is that important.
You must be using tags in your posts.
Make sure that you include a tag mentioning that it's a sponsored post. It can look very dishonest if you are promoting something and not outright saying it.
Plus, you look more official and entrepreneurial by having these paid promotions.
The great thing about Instagram is that it already generates a "paid sponsorship" text for brand deals.
There are three types of tags that you should be using:
- Account tags
Geotagging is really important if you are pitching a deal to a brand that is location-based (such as a recording studio).
Geotags allows you to tag locations so that others exploring the tag can see your ad know that the brand is located nearby.
#6 Mastering the algorithm
The algorithm can either be your best friend or your worst enemy.
As long as you're good with the algorithm then you can expect a positive outlook for your posts.
Following the Instagram algorithm will get your post naturally shown to more and more people.
You can take advantage of the algorithm through a schedule, using hashtags, etc.
Since the algorithm can help you grow when used correctly, it's really important for getting a corporate sponsorship.
#7 Brand research
Most people that go looking for brand deals often skip this part and lose deals because of it.
You need to make sure that you truly research the brands you would like to work with. You should find a sponsor that matches you well.
There are a few things that you should be looking into during the research part, such as:
- What are similar brands in your industry that people are already promoting
- What are the important brands to your audience
Go on Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets and write down a big list of different brands in your niche that you can pitch to.
When you're looking for sponsors try to keep the spreadsheet as general as you can. The goal is to get as many names on that list as possible in the beginning and eliminate most later.
It can also help if you reach out to a fellow influencer and kindly ask them for some tips and general questions. They will often be more than happy to help you out in many cases.
It's all right to search for small brands, oftentimes they are looking to expand and would be interested in doing brand deals as well.
Make sure that you check out their website and social media profiles. Find out what types of posts they have and what their brand value is.
If you notice that a lot of the brand's posts relate to you then you know it's a good fit.
#8 Decide on the type of brand sponsorship
There are different types of brand sponsorships and depending on the type you choose you can negotiate a higher rate.
There is a basic deal where you simply mention the brand in the post. You can take a photo/video and highlight the product in the caption, explaining the value and benefits of the brand.
There is also a review type of brand deal. Here you talk about the product and your experience with it.
In review brand deals, you discuss how the product helped you and how it can help others. Since this is more in-depth than the basic brand deal, you can expect a higher rate for that.
The third type of sponsorship is by having it in the post and tagging the item itself without being too specific or too detailed in explanation. This is the cheapest brand deal.
As long as you understand the product and brand, you can easily decipher which type of sponsorship to pursue.
#9 Creating the sponsorship proposal
Now that you finally know which brand to reach out to, you're ready to optimize and create the proposal.
The best way to do it is to write a formal email that's highly professional yet short. Getting this email right is super important because if poorly done, your chances of getting the deal can go to 0% instantly.
Make sure that the proposal is truthful, impeccable and keep everything on the table. Don't lie to get the deal, brands can see right through it and it ruins your reputation and future chances of getting the deal.
The proposal email should have a media kit and explain your key information such as who you are and how you can be a valuable asset for a brand deal.
The media kit is essential since it allows the brand to get a look at your brand and increases the chance of hearing back from them.
#10 Creating the media kit.
This part requires you to do a little bit of design work.
The media kit is super important because it highlights everything about your own brand in a small, neat deck of slides. The brand can then just look through the media kit and see if you're a good fit.
Download the sample media kit here!
Some things that your media kit must include:
- Audience/demographic data
- Important metrics (engagements, followers, etc.)
- A look into who you are
- Your website/contacts
- Don't forget to tell your story of how you became who you are today and how it relates the brand.
Make sure you really show the brands that you have a great plan which will benefit both sides and explain how much your audience is going to react to the brand deal.
Before you actually go out there and share the proposal and media kit with them, make sure you write down what terms you want in the contract, and refer to it when it's time to negotiate the deal.
#11 Sharing the proposal
Great! We're all up and ready to get the brand deals started.
The next thing that needs to get done is collecting the contact info (phone number and email address).
Introducing yourself through the phone is a whole lot better than email because it has a personal touch and gives you a better chance of expressing who you are to the brands.
As a whole, it's a more memorable experience for both sides.
If a phone number is not available, emailing works just as well.
Checking out the website contact info or their social media platforms 'about us' page to find this.
Try to contact the right people that are relevant for the brand deal (think of the marketing or PR department), through LinkedIn or Twitter you can get the right contact information.
By checking the website you can also see if they have an established process for sponsorship and follow through with that if they do.
If they don't necessarily say anything about sponsorship it's all right because as long as you have the email you're still able to pitch to them.
Make sure that your social media bio is optimized with your contact information as well that way if other brands happen to stumble across your account and decide they want to do a brand deal with you they'll have direct contact.
There are a lot of companies that work to help artists get brand deals so it's worth checking out. Platforms such as Famebit is great for this .
#12 Negotiating the deal
This is where your business skills are put to the test.
Here you get to negotiate your prices, rates and responsibilities in the brand deal. If it's your very first brand deal you can't expect too much money but you still have some room to negotiate.
Try to keep your fare similar to what other people with your level of following in your industry are charging (this takes a bit of research to find out).
The regular standard in the marketing industry is $10 per every 1,000 followers but you can throw in bundles of a few Instagram story posts as well as linking your bio to the brand.
The best brand deals are re-occurring sponsored posts, that way you can have side income coming in monthly.
#13 the Follow-up
Remember that a lot of these big brands are super busy dealing with their day-to-day operations, so there's a chance that they may not even see the email in the first place.
This is a great chance to go ahead and follow up if you didn't get hear back from them.
If more time passes and you still didn't get a response you got to follow back up after a couple of days or even a week again.
Also make sure you reach out to them through different media (phone, social profile, website, etc.)
#14 Commit to the deal
Have fun, go out there and create the brand post.
You can get in a lot of trouble if you sign the deal contract and you don't commit to your end of the bargain. Remember, it's a two-way street.
It's a lot of fun so go out there and enjoy these deals!