You may of seen that some DJs out there, especially on YouTube DJing, that they have a lot of gear. Or that their websites have ‘Sponsored by <insert brand name>’, potentially some clothing too.
Getting sponsored as a DJ is best by starting with a plan, what’s the angle in which you are taking to gain sponsorship e.g. need DJ equipment, money for an event? Showing that you create content, have a following online and have active marketing / promotional campaigns really supports a desirable looking pitch. Researching and pitching to sponsors is the final step in the process.
Well, if you’re thinking I want some of that action, then this article goes in depth of how to get sponsored as a DJ.
Not so long ago now I wrote about the ways to make money in DJing, so if getting sponsored is not on your agenda yet, please read that article to give you more ideas on how to make money from DJing and music.
Create a Plan for Yourself
Making a plan for yourself will put you in a really good position.
It’s so that you can figure out exactly what you need (or need to gain) vs what the sponsor will gain in return. The plan requires to highlight the ‘Win Win’ situation for both yourself (the DJ) and the sponsor.
Here’s a template that you can use and adapt to your own benefit when starting to plan out your goal of getting sponsorship.
WHAT are you doing as a DJ that requires you to get sponsorship?
Ideas to get you started might include:
- You run DJ events in your local area
- You review DJ equipment online e.g. YouTube
- You run a podcast or radio show on DJing and have guest DJs
There are multiple areas that are likely way more obvious to yourself right now. The above ideas should set you in the right direction.
There may be multiple activities that are part of your DJing path for the next 12 months, which will play to your strengths.
Let’s face it, a sponsor is more likely to sponsor you if you’re participating in multiple areas related to DJing over a long period of time. Not just a one off event. There’s more touch points and chance of exposing the sponsors company in a variety of ways.
At the end of it it’s about what you can bring back to sponsor and for how long. Keep that in mind when you’re in the planning stages.
WHY? (The Win Win)
Below are some examples that you can draw upon, you get the idea. The purpose of this step in the template plan is to make it clear what will benefit you and the benefits to the sponsor.
Benefit to you…
- You need to reduce your costs to support yourself DJing
- You might need need music e.g. from a record pool
- You need to monetise your DJ podcast e.g. Mixcloud
Benefit to the sponsor…
- New local business in town, requires a boost in brand awareness
- Sales, revenue and repeat purchases of their products
- Brand exposure to a specific target audience (an audience likely to purchase the brand’s products)
- Brand exposure to a wide target audience (potential for new customers to buy into a brand)
WHO? (Potential sponsors)
Thinking and taking onboard WHAT you’re doing, your activities. Take a moment to recognise the audience that you engage with whether it be online or face to face.
Recognising the audience that follow you and your DJ brand will help to research and map out who you’re going to target for a potential sponsor.
There definitely needs to be a link between the the audience that follows you and the audience that your sponsor targets. “Target” is a strong word but that’s capitalism for you.
There’s no point trying to get a local cake shop to sponsor you for your event is there?
Well, not unless you DJ at weddings…
Or that might work if you’re Steve Aoki with his infamous cake smash. 😂
Create Content, Build a Following
What’s your reach? How many followers online do you have on social media and music platforms?
Create content online whether it be:
- DJ mixes on Mixcloud
- YouTube videos for your music that you create
- YouTube DJing tutorials / equipment reviews
- Website featuring your DJ mixes and music
- Email newsletter updating your fans
- Instagram great DJ related photos
Either route you take with content, you’re building a net, a net that can potentially catch a large following of people that want to hear and see you DJ.
This is a great way to help add these sorts of activities into your business sponsorship pitch. It’s evidence of how many views your content gains on a monthly basis. Therefore you can give an estimate to your sponsors on how many “eyes on” their brand will get them for cost of sponsoring you.
Of course if you are trying to get a sponsor for a DJ event at a bar or club then you can certain play you online following to your strengths. Certainly add this into your sponsorship pitch.
Tips when building a following
- Be unique with the music that you’re DJing, don’t just follow the rest of the DJs playing their genre of music, how will you stand out from the crowd otherwise?
- Build an email list as soon as possible. This will give you a decent chance to connect with your audience, whether it be shouting about your next event, DJ mix, new clothing range and most importantly your sponsors.
- Reply to followers comment online, e.g. YouTube, emails or on social media. Engaging with your audience can really boost how much people like you, especially when there are a lot of music industry people out there that don’t reply. People like friendly and engaging DJs.
- Be genuine, professional & helpful. If there are any negative comments that you have put online they may be open to mis-interpretation and come across as un-professional. Being as helpful as possible to people online will show you in a positive light, which is great for your sponsors.
- Get some video editing and photography skills. Even if you don’t want to learn them yourself, then get someone that you know or an acquaintance to help you with video editing and photo editing. You need to have a professional look and feel around your DJ brand and content.
- Engage & comment with other DJs, venues, promoters and other DJ outlets (e.g. online magazines). This will help show your potential sponsors that you have other contacts and that you’re serious about the music scene you’re in.
Your Marketing Campaign
You may not have a marketing campaign, and may not apply to all your activities as a DJ.
It’s worth knowing about some ideas to support marketing yourself and all the great work that you do as a DJ.
Consider this, you provide people with you mixes via a podcast hosted on Mixcloud, therefore consider running advertising on YouTube, via your email newsletter or even you DJ brand website.
Even if you have a YouTube channel you can still promote your upcoming content via advertisements in various formats.
Getting an interview with a local newspaper to highlight that you’re putting on a DJ event or contacting a DJ specific publication could even help promote your DJing brand.
Creating flyers and digital flyers will help to push awareness of your DJ events that you might be putting on. Great to get shared on social media, invite friends and family to share your flyers online too.
This all leads to one thing before creating your pitch and that’s ammo. By this I mean ammo to add to your sale pitch to your sponsors.
It’s all fair and well simply asking what you want from a sponsor, but you still need to showcase the content that you release, your following and how you tie it altogether with marketing / promotional activity.
Marketing Tips for DJs
- Create a DJ brand, in the form of a catchy trendy name and DJ logo – having a logo to portray your DJ brand will help people recognise you as a DJ.
- Network – this can help you work with and lean on the right contacts at the right time. Especially if you need a favour for something to support your success, return the favour in the future. You never know, someone you’ve networked with might help you gain a sponsor too.
- Promote yourself – focus on the best ways that will support promoting your event or your DJ brand. E.g. paid social media ads, YouTube ads, flyers, posters, you name it, try it! See what works well for you and refine that for the future.
Build a Pitch & Sponsorship Offer
All of the steps mentioned prior to this step all have an input into the pitch for gaining sponsorship from another brand or company.
Your content activities, social following, marketing campaign/promotional activities = part of the pitch.
Provide the evidence that you can get enough eyes on someones DJ equipment product or brand logo for example, then you’re half way there.
In the pitch, you could draw upon this structure as inspiration:
- Who you are, what’s your name and what you do (style of music, activities as a DJ, content that you create, your social following). Give numbers on how much content you release monthly, your social following amount etc.
- What you are trying to achieve by gaining a sponsorship. This could be gaining access to a DJ controller temporarily or permanently. It could be you need some money to support a DJ event that you’re putting on.
- Benefits to the sponsor, and why they should put money on the table. A great example I found of this is from DJ Tech Tools, where they show that using a digital marketing concept for Cost Per Thousand Impressions. How many views can you get onto a sponsors brand / product. E.g. 50,000 views, the DJ controller costs £500 = £10 Cost per Thousand Views. Try to benchmark this against the industry standard, DJTT highlights that around $5 to $40 is around average for online ads.
Research Companies & Contacts
you should by now have an idea of the activity that you’re doing that requires sponsorship.
This should make it relatively easy to shortlist brands and companies to contact with your sponsorship pitch.
Finding contact details for marketing executives and managers of brands is a great way to start. Using LinkedIn, social media, search marketing publications / directories, can be good places to start.
According to Power Sponsorship blog, which talk about corporate sponsorship, advise to contact:
- Regional Marketing Managers
- Brand Managers
The logic behind this is that these people have control over the final say “Yes” or “No” of the budget and whether they will sponsor you. There’s no point trying to jump through hoops of hierarchy within a business only to find the budget holder says No. Try contacting the budget owners, e.g. the brand managers, to save time too.
Make sure you keep a list of the people that you built up contact details. A great way that I’ve implemented this is using a Google Sheet to collate the below information in different columns.
- Role at company
- How to contact them
- Status: Not Contacted, Contacted
Go Hunting, Contact Companies
Once you’ve made a list and built your pitch in an email format or telephone script, then crack on and start contacting the people on your list.
Getting on the telephone can really be a better and more impactful response rate for getting answers from your contacts.
Tips when getting in contact with potential sponsors include:
- Contact by email / LinkedIn / telephone. See which types of methods resonate the most with different people. Each person has their own preference.
- If you’ve called a potential sponsor by telephone, then make sure you follow up with your pitch and nice note explaining the next steps.
- Being persistent and follow up on your call or email, time and time again until you get a final answer.
- Ask for feedback from the sponsor and understand what it is that you were lacking in your offer or sponsor pitch that might work better for them in the future. Remember there needs to be a Win Win situation for both parties involved in a sponsorship deal.
How do you politely ask for sponsorship?
Start by creating proposal, describing your story and your mission. Detail the benefits that the sponsor will be gaining in return, which can be backed up by any specific details on the audience that follows you online. Highlight numbers of online views or sales that you may be able to bring back to a sponsor.
How do I get free DJ equipment?
Companies that provide free equipment usually do this for DJs that promote their products online. Video tutorials and reviews are a great method in which DJs can promote products and share via YouTube, social media and websites. Promoting your videos to the DJ equipment companies will then persuade them to provide you free equipment.
What do sponsors get in return?
Companies, that sponsor DJs, in return get exposure of their brand at a deeper more targeted level. DJs that have made a name for themselves likely have a following on social media and online in general. When a DJ is using their products, these are then “vetted” or “proven” by a particular DJ. Ultimately leading to brand exposure and potentially more sales of products.