winery building and surroundings“Let your community feed your creativity.”
The Musician’s Way,
p. 313

When we musicians plan self-produced concerts, we set out to share our art and generate income.

Problem is, although self-produced concerts bring many rewards, they’re pricey to put on – venue, advertising, transportation, and personnel costs add up.

Teaming up with Local Businesses

One way to cover some expenses – and also build our audiences – is to team up with local businesses that can enhance our events, increase buzz, and attract attendees.

We might charge fees to such sponsors in exchange for featuring them in our promos and at our concerts (examples below).

Alternatively, when working with businesses that have hefty mailing lists and advertising budgets, we might similarly host them at our shows but forgo fees and instead arrange for them to promote our events to their customers.

That is, as a result of their support, we’d engage a more diverse community and sell more tickets. At the same time, our sponsors would get exposure to our fans.

Of course, we need to have amassed fans and track records before we can attract sponsors. But once we’ve done so, we can forge synergistic relationships in which everyone benefits.

Here are some general examples:

1. Partnering with Food & Drink Establishments

Concerts are social events, so hospitality businesses make natural partners for performers.

We might obtain underwriting from the likes of a local brewery, winery, restaurant, bakery, grocer, or ice cream vendor. Then, on top of including our sponsor’s name and logo in our promos, they could provide refreshments at our local event.

It’s best if such sponsors offer unique opportunities to our audiences, things that our fans will value – not only tasty treats but also coupons, debuts of new ice cream flavors, prepaid discounts along the lines of Groupons, and so forth.

2. Partnering with Retailers

The Musician's Way book coverRetailers are always eager for opportunities to connect with the communities they serve.

Musicians who present kids’ concerts, for instance, can affiliate with music, toy, or sporting goods stores. Classical players who bring in adult and senior audiences might work with businesses that specialize in luxury goods.

The idea is to identify reputable retailers that would be of interest to our fans and can help us expand our audience base. We then collaborate with those businesses to make our events maximally buzzworthy, profitable, and fun.

One word of caution: if we normally sell our own merch at our concerts, arrangements in which retailers sell their wares at our events can cut into our own sales. So, as with any venture, we need plan with care. Ideally, we’d create some merch that our sponsors would want to sell at their establishments.

3. Partnering with Non-Profit Organizations

A complementary funding strategy is to partner with non-profit organizations that host performances and then obtain grants from local foundations.

We might initiate concert series at churches or colleges, let’s say, and apply for grants to cover some costs.

For examples of how you might initiate and fund those sorts of arrangements, see my post, “Partnering with Non-Profits.”

Related articles can be found under the Entrepreneurship category. 

© 2011 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © Andy Z., licensed from