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Six years of managing a local sponsor relationship paying off in dividends.

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  • Six years of managing a local sponsor relationship paying off in dividends.

    For six years now we've had an 'exclusive' sponsorship with a local radio station, being their unofficial 'events' band for a number of annual events. I say 'unofficial' because for many years we were never told we were 'exclusive'... they just choose not to work with anyone else. The station itself had a history of shunning any local bands, original and cover so even approaching them when we were first starting out was a delicate situation. We had an 'in' with a DJ that enjoyed our act. In the beginning instead of being greedy about what we were going to get out of the situation we decide to be very pragmatic and business like. We approached them (as a band growing in local popularity) with being their events band for 2-3 events a year in exchange for the exposure we would get with on air mentions. The first event we played was for new bar grand opening they were doing a brew bash. Yes we did the event for free (on behalf of the station) with the understanding that we would be mentioned on air and it would give us a foot in the door with a brand new club (our first $1000 show btw... as we leveraged our relationship with the radio station into a VIP status with the club... sneaky bastards!). From then on we were called with offers for other event, all along being the exclusive choice but the station never acknowledging it. We had some major bumps along the way... mostly DJ's who forgot to give us the arranged on air mentions. The Program Director really could have cared less about the arrangement. He really didn't show us a ton of respect in the beginning... and I really didn't blame him. His history working with previous local bands were that they were dickbag musicians. And for the most part they were.

    Slowly and surely, they warmed up to us. Each event we played became more and more successful. Soon we were the event and the radio station was merely hosting. Halloween ball, Spring Break Beach Party, Booze Cruise. Still it's great having your name on the radio and all, but we still felt that we could always push the relationship further to our advantage. Particularly with the Halloween event. Back in 2005 we did our first Boo Ball with only 100 invited winners in a hotel ballroom. In 5 years it grew to a public event hosted in a civic auditorium. Last year's turnout was 800. This year, over 1100 in attendance. The Program Director who previously didn't give us much attention, devotes much of his time during his morning show joking about us and what it's like to work with us... attention we relish.

    We've never been pushy for our requirements and we're always agreeable to work with. It keeps us employed with them each year. However this year we approached them about having some ad time, in exchange for all the time we've donated over the years. They said sure... in fact, come up with an ad... 30 seconds and they will put it on regular broadcast. So we called in some favors. Last summer we played a private party for comedian John Brennan, 1/2 of the fame Jerky Boys act. He still does stand up and regular voice over work for 'Family Guy' and other animated programs. He's a big fan and friend of the band and we offered to play a family party at a discounted rate if John would create a commercial for us. He came up with four great 30 second commercials. Here's part of one (we did one for each season). Frank Rizzo commercial.

    So Saturday night we play Boo Ball... 1100+ in attendance. Monday morning the first of four daily drive time commercials aired. Not expecting anything hugely monumental except for "Congrats... I heard the commercial" from other bands and friends I was a little taken back when I logged onto our Facebook account this morning and found 373 friend requests. Additionally the radio station posted my video recap to their website.... on a good day I might get 30-40 views. Since noon yesterday it's been played over 320 times. It's only Wednesday and we've never seen a bump like this from any event we've done. The comments, and private emails from those who attended the event have been fantastic.



    I don't post this stuff to gloat... I just like to point that if we demanded pay for our services in these situations we would all walk away with a $100 each for our time and be treated like any vendor. Instead, choosing to partner with the station, and being flexible we've created a great, thriving relationship that is dependable and respectful. No contracts are signed, everything is verbal, under the table handshakes. And both parties benefit. That's what a local sponsorship should be all about.
    so over this signature BS!!!

  • #2
    Thank you for sharing, Grant, as always. You guys are awesome. :thu:

    What your band did was obviously a great business move, unlike many of the exposure gigs offered out there, there was a true benefit where your 'partner' followed through.

    A band I used to play with did two live public radio spots for free when I was with them, and they've done many more than that before and after my stint with the band. It did a lot to furthur booking and recognition of the band name, and often I'd hear, "yeah, I heard you guys on KDHX and came out." Radio works, and pays off, it seems. That particular station offers free gig announcements to just about anyone, so it's quite a bit different from the station you're talking about, I'm sure. But the live spots themselves really helped us out. We sure weren't playing the same types of venues, or making your paycheck, though.
    <div class="signaturecontainer">Dive Bar Queen<br />
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    • #3
      Great post. It pays to be professional and not have the dollar as the highest priority in every relationship, especially when bartering services can be far more beneficial to both parties.
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      <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>mdrake34</strong>
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      • #4
        I don't post this stuff to gloat... I just like to point that if we demanded pay for our services in these situations we would all walk away with a $100 each for our time and be treated like any vendor. Instead, choosing to partner with the station, and being flexible we've created a great, thriving relationship that is dependable and respectful. No contracts are signed, everything is verbal, under the table handshakes. And both parties benefit. That's what a local sponsorship should be all about.


        :thu:
        * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
        My cover band

        HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT DOESN'T WORK HARD

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        • #5
          Sometimes Exposure gigs do work out. This is a perfect example! you guys get radio time on a popular radio station and in return you do a few events for them that they sponosr. Win win for both I'd say. :thu:

          BTW the Frank Rizzo spot was aweome! Brings back memories. I was a huge jerky boys fan even before the album was released. - A friend of a friend got his hands on an uncensored bootleg tape... We just thought it was a bunch of really great prank calls. I didn't even know they called themselves the jerky boys until a few years later when I stumbled across the album in a record store and I though... Damn! They are making money off of this? WOW!
          www.ostrichhat.com

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          • #6
            Sometimes Exposure gigs do work out. This is a perfect example! you guys get radio time on a popular radio station and in return you do a few events for them that they sponosr. Win win for both I'd say. :thu:

            BTW the Frank Rizzo spot was aweome! Brings back memories. I was a huge jerky boys fan even before the album was released. - A friend of a friend got his hands on an uncensored bootleg tape... We just thought it was a bunch of really great prank calls. I didn't even know they called themselves the jerky boys until a few years later when I stumbled across the album in a record store and I though... Damn! They are making money off of this? WOW!


            I think the examples of exposure gigs that don't work are the ones where you are providing a service but not partnered in receiving the benefit. We get lots of offers for 'exposure' gigs that we turn down... largely because we are benefiting the party interested yet we have nothing to gain for those efforts. The begining of this sponsorship could have turned out that way, if we didn't set out our expectations of what we hoped to receive. I've seen bands take gigs that become embarrassingly bad... playing in the middle of a mall, playing to groups of children, playing the grand opening of a gas station... that won't gain you much attention with the bar going crowd (21-35). I've also seen bands totally misuse their sponsorship.... one band going as far to promote 'free beer' in an attempt to gain a budweiser sponsorship (hello... they want you to sell beer not give it away for free... :facepalm. These things take time, and patience, and you have to be firm about what you want and confident what you bring to the table. In the end, the only thing a sponsor recognition should give you is exposure to more people to play for.
            so over this signature BS!!!

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            • #7
              Update: This weekend we're playing another annual event for the radio station our 7th year in a row. Their annual Booze Cruise. Our commitment is 8 hours: difficult load in/out, and three sets on a boat under the hot sun for about 100 people. Payment: just renegotiated the next wave of radio spots. The Frank Rizzo commercial. spot will run from 20 times per week, Mon thru Fri 6am-9am, 3pm-6pm. (2x in each slot) Aug 1-Oct 15th. This equals to $8,000 per month in advertising.

              This is somewhat of a coupe' considering when we first approached the station about playing such events they were not interested in working with any bands. Like I mentioned above, it took years to get to this point and I'm guessing we've done 25 events in the last 7 years for no pay what so ever. Our goal from the beginning was to use the station to get our name everywhere in the local area.

              We've always had the view that this relationship was somewhat exclusive but a few years ago things got a little tense after we were voted Best Local Band by the listeners from a competing radio station. They invited us to come in on air and perform live... a little awkward but who are we to turn down an opporunity to be on air. We anticpated a little dust up from our primary sponsor but nothing was mentioned. We never confronted them about it and we continued on with our scheduled events.

              A few weeks ago we were caught off guard when another local band was promoted for a radio event: one that we hadn't been asked for but would have turned down anyway. We were aware this band was trying to 'pry' away our relationship with the station for a long time, using our appearance on the competing station for ammo and promising all sorts of ridiculous things. There had been a small management change at the station so we immediately assumed without notice that we were out and they were in. We brought it up at the meeting and they said that it couldn't be further from the truth. We were still their #1 band and happy to be working with us. But they also understood that we're in high demand and couldn't be available for every opportunity and some would just not be worth our time to participate. The other band however was so desperate for attention that they would commit to just about anything... including rescheduling or canceling a show. :facepalm: The event they played was a station sponsored backyard BBQ for free. Free band for 1 hr in front of 20 people. They assured us they would not get commercial time. Just a few on air mentions for the events. They were also considering having the other band play the annual Halloween event we play every year as an opener (which would be awkward since we have 80% overlap in setlist and we're not really on the friendliest terms)but assured us they would be on a side stage or in the lobby of the venue. Funny... years ago they didn't want to work with any bands. Now that having a 'band' has become the focal point of so many promotional events they want to work with other bands whenever we aren't available or willing.

              So I guess we'll have to keep peering in our rear view mirror for now.
              so over this signature BS!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                The curse of being in first place, huh? Cheers, man - I love hearing your success!
                Music, music, I hear music

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                • #9
                  I love it
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                  • #10
                    Reading your story (and Guido's about playing for google) is like porn for the "struggling musician". Great to see people leaving the rock'n'f'n'roll attitude behind and doing mature business deals and seeing great results.

                    Comment


                    • #11


                      So I guess we'll have to keep peering in our rear view mirror for now.


                      Like a giant game of king of the hill. Once you're there, you have to maintain it. You guys are an inspiration to me so I love to hear all about it. Thanks for sharing! :thu:

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                      • #12
                        Reminds you that no matter how successful you become, someone's always looking to take your place or duplicate your talent for less $$$$$$$. It is and always will be business first. Whenever dollars are involved "friendships" with promoters/venue owners are never for sure.

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                        • #13
                          Frank Rizzo commercial


                          LOVE IT! :thu:
                          * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
                          My cover band

                          HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT DOESN'T WORK HARD

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                          • #14
                            Glad to know that people are still rockin' in Po-Town!

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                            • wheresgrant3
                              wheresgrant3 commented
                              Editing a comment

                              wesg wrote:
                              How do sponsorships work?

                              I get that they give you money and/or promo, but what do they get in return? You tell people in the clubs what radio station to listen to?

                              They don't give us any money. In 10 years we never been paid for in return for playing an event. At one point we negotiated $1000 for the annual Halloween event (which would have been taxed with a 1099) which caused a strain on their budget but instead we asked for free advertising in exchange for being paid. We claim no income, we pay no taxes and instead we have free media and marketing support to promo the band in the station's listening area.  I live in a mid-sized market. 90 mins from NYC and ranked 39th in the country with 1.4 mill people in the listening area.  There are three prime stations in my listening area.... one classic rock, one alternative and one Top 40 pop. We're aligned with two of the three stations under one roof. 

                               

                              We don't have to promote the station at our regular events... but of course we do. What they get is entertainment for all of their best events. A professional band that knows the drill and is easy to work with for their most important events. After working with them so many years we have a terrific working relationship with the station. We're professional, not demanding, keep the audience happy for a 4 hour event. We would charge upwards of $2500 if they were to hire us as a private event band. Instead we get exposure and advertising that's equals more than $5000 for each event. And they don't have to pay us a dime. The one year we were not able to play an event due to a calendar conflict we were told the band they used was a complete disaster. Didn't have enough PA for the event, used profanity on the mic... played not so radio friendly songs. It was probably the best thing that happened for us b/c since that event we've been courted by them more as a partner rather than just some entertainment to play these events. That's when we were able to negotiate airtime and advertising in exchange for our services playing these events. 

                               

                              It's definitely a unique situation... but one we engineered. It's this same partnership that helped my former band become a household name in local entertainment. Some have scoffed at playing events for 'free' when I've countered that we've never played anything for free... we've played it in trade of something. And playing in front of 800-1000 people and having your name drilled on the radio before, during, and after such events it's worth more than $150 take home. 


                            • wesg
                              wesg commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Thanks, Grant. That was very helpful.

                              I agree that this type of arrangement can be very useful. There is a local band country cover band around here that used to be able to really draw based on their name alone...but we heard their name on the radio a fair bit. I understand a couple of their original tunes have even charted, but I haven't heard much from those guys in a few years...maybe they had to get day jobs.

                              I may try to figure out to do something similar locally, once my group has a few dozen gigs under our belts. My current promotion involves a Facebook blitz starting two weeks before a gig, and talking to people face-to-face. Strangers in the streets, Baristas, you name it, they know when I'm playing next.

                            • wheresgrant3
                              wheresgrant3 commented
                              Editing a comment

                              wesg wrote:
                              Thanks, Grant. That was very helpful.

                              I agree that this type of arrangement can be very useful. There is a local band country cover band around here that used to be able to really draw based on their name alone...but we heard their name on the radio a fair bit. I understand a couple of their original tunes have even charted, but I haven't heard much from those guys in a few years...maybe they had to get day jobs.

                              I may try to figure out to do something similar locally, once my group has a few dozen gigs under our belts. My current promotion involves a Facebook blitz starting two weeks before a gig, and talking to people face-to-face. Strangers in the streets, Baristas, you name it, they know when I'm playing next.

                              I'll say the one thing that has worked in our favor is the people and management we have been dealing with for many years have remained unchanged. That is not the experience at most radio stations where Jockeys, GM's, program directors change at the drop of a hat. To be honest our music now is much more geared toward the top 40 station which is their competition. But we were never able to build a foothold there b/c the management changes all of the time. Create a relationship with one person and they are out of that job two years later. So my advice is to not aim high but squarely at the middle. The stations we work with are number #2&3 in the market. And that's helped some longevity I think. 


                          • #15

                            What is :thu:?

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