Why would you sponsor a band?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by David Mann, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    As loss of sponsorship is in the news it made me think about why any company would sponsor a brass band. If you, as a band representative, are in front of the MD, Chairman or marketing manager of a company, how do you respond when they ask "What's in it for us?" I hope that the debate will generate some arguments to use. As I have been involved in sales and marketing for many years now, I'm not convinced that sponsoring a brass band will generate any sales leads, but if you have examples to disprove my thoughts then please post them.
    My reasons for companies to sponsor:

    Philanthropy - The owner likes bands and can do what he or she wants with their money, maybe likes the kudos of being associated with the band.

    Marketing - In a broad sense having a band that name checks your company on radio / tv / local paper can increase general awareness and make people consider your company when making a buying decision. Difficult to measure though. Marketing also tends to work in campaigns so no-one should be surprised when sponsorship isn't renewed. Marketing people are also influenced by their own personnel: one band I was in lost its sponsorship and one reason given was that they couldn't justify paying for a band when they were making some of their own workers redundant.

    Public Relations - Some companies want to be seen as good neighbours / corporate citizens, putting money back into the local community (maybe to negate the bad PR of having a big smelly factory in town!). Others want to promote their character; northernness or Britishness perhaps.

    Hope this generates some useful ideas and debate..
  2. Di B

    Di B Member

    Business Use

    Sometimes companies want to hire bands for prestigious events etc. If they sponsor a band they can write this into the contract and have a band 'on call' when they need it

    Tax Relief

    Donations to charitable causes are genuine business expenses and therefore reduces the tax burden of the company. Not a strong reason on its own but a strong contributory factor when next to other reasons
  3. bertiebass

    bertiebass New Member

    Marketing and PR could possibly work is if the sponsorer is a small local firm, possibly showing support within the community. Large National/International firms, I can't see how they can benefit in terms of higher turnover.
  4. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    This could be an interesting thread - its a question I've asked myself several times. I guess the old sponsored bands (by that I mean the colliery bands and the odd engineering firms like Fairy Aviation) were set up as a relief from the crappy working conditions the men employed there had to endure. Its a different ball game these days.

    My own feeling is that generally the answer to your question is probably 85% philanthropy, 10% public relations and 5% marketing. If we're brutally honest just how much marketing does a band generate? Even if you look at the upper echelons of banding, I would say very little - for an obvious example, how many Carpet Processing Machines have Sellers Engineering sold on the back of their very successful band?

    In Wigston we have a couple big companies - the largest (some might say Premier ;) ) manufacturer of percussion kit in the UK, and a huge engineering supply company both have their HQ less than 1/4 of a mile from our bandroom, as well as several other companies with branches in Wigston - our old bandroom was right next door to Jacobs biscuit factory for example. But how do we, as a band sell ourselves to them? I've thought about this a lot over the years, not just for a top line sponsorship, but also for us to do other smaller projects. Personally I can't get past the fact that we have little to offer them in terms of marketing potential, and any money they put in will only work for them in term of tax breaks etc. IF we know someone at board level is a bander then we might be in with a chance, but I feel if we were to go in cold would result in a complete - and understandable blank in return.

    I'd be interested to read other replies of how bands have successfully gained sponsorship from "cold calling" companies.
  5. zak

    zak Member

    Simple answer is... I wouldn't, given the limited publicity and also some small minded brass players whom think that the music world revolves around them and deserves an unconditional fianancial contribution, this coupled with the unavoidable petty band politics would make it a bitter pill to swallow!!! ;)
  6. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Having a works Brass Band was the same as having a works football, rugby, cricket team etc. You're right, it probably was all born from giving the workers something to take their mind off the daily slog of earning the company money for working in crappy conditions. At the time the companies were'nt thinking of sponsoring the band for any other reason than to give a small percentage of workers something to do, and the rest of the workers something to cheer about. So the companies would not have questioned the cost of running the band or the footy team etc. Today is different as you say, because local football teams get sponsored to play by local businesses, however I'm sure the cost of running a football team is a lot lower than running a band, hence more businesses willing to give money for the local pubs teams' balls and strips than making sure that the band's bellends are polished. Couple that with the fact that the local footy team will make the sports pages of the local press with the company logo clear to see if the team is successful, and it's an altogether better proposition.

    No. I can't see a reason to sponsor a band either (other than the small tax break they may get). So it must come down to kudos or the love of banding and spare cash.
  7. floppymute

    floppymute Member

    Wooden Flugel suggests 85% philanthropy, 10% public relations and 5%marketing. Sadly, he's probably right and that is where bands fall down by their own action, or should I say, inaction. Having been involved with a number of bands over the years with, in some cases, very good sponsorship deals I look back and am amazed in many ways how they held on to the deals at all. (Yes, at the time I was as guilty as any others in the band over this. It's only now with more experience and a much more business aware 'head' on that I see the problem). Too many bands are happy to accept sponsorship as nothing more than a gift and sit back just waiting for the money to arrive. I've even heard of bands receiving sponsorship and then charging their sponsors ridiculous fees for any engagements they were subsequently asked to perform! What should happen is that the band is pro-active. Go to the sponsors and work with them. What can the band do for them to help their marketing? A band (not even necessarily a good one musically) can be a marvellous marketing asset, if only for it's novelty value (sorry, but true) to potential business contacts, especially foreign ones. And this approach needn't be a one way street. A band can get some great gigs from this!
  8. Super Ph

    Super Ph Member

    I have often wondered this. I think the answer is "I never would". The bands I have played in that have been sponsored have invariably wasted it all for nothing tangible back, and the higher the sponsorship, the more it was wasted (i.e. thrown at high-profile deps in pursuit of contests success rather than invested in useful or lasting projects).

    Most companies that are big relative to their base town have a budget to literally give away to local community projects in order to butter up the local council and press. This has nothing really to do with marketing, it's just greasing the wheels of bureaucracy ready for next time they need planning permission, or next time their actions cause local outrage. Being seen not just as a "big local employer" but also a "good local employer" is the aim. This is the only reason I can think of that a company might end up giving something to a band, unless a high ranking exec was into brass bands for some reason.

    However, the company I work for is awash with cash, gives literally millions to these sort of community projects, and when I have applied for a slice of the pie for my band, the most I have ever got out of them is £50 here and there in return for a mention in a concert programme. The people that dole this sort of cash around are invariably posh (round here anyway) and brass bands just don't register with them. Bands don't have the image to compete with choral groups, am-dram, school projects, the local orchestra, etc. even though the evidence I have seen would suggest that the groups I play in are far superior in terms of musical ability, commitment, and audience numbers.

    Added to all that, however convincing the pitch, there is the obvious question "You've got a full set of instruments and a library, and a schedule of concerts which should make money. What on earth are you going to spend it on?".

    The most successful sponsorship I have known was not really financial at all - it was the free use of a good bandroom on the company site, in return for playing at one or two works dos.
  9. slider

    slider Member

    I play in a Band called Broughtons that was dropped by its sponsors many years ago. We still have the name although we are also the Regional NUM Band and have two sets of banners, jackets etc.

    In my professional life I'm a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing working in a web site design business. I look at the band sponsors around the North East and wonder why they do it. Certainly not for direct commercial promotion.

    The Band my Children play in Chester-le-Street Academy Brass does not seek a main sponsor but does receive donations from several local businesses. All we can do for them is offer a mention on the band website with a rotating banner slot. The designing and scripting of such a feature on your website is not easy but does say a small thank you and is better that the wretched associate marketing that plagues the internet. Trade secret - the number of hits a banner brings to a website as a percentage of impressions (times it is seen) is tiny.

    Bands continue to function because of the enthusiasm of the members and a willingness to pay for the petrol to attend band events.
    A recently folded championship section band in the North East is BHK Hordon, (won the 2006 Durham League one week and folded the next) Who outside that industry sector knows what BHK firm does? The Sponsorship was quite lucrative but suddenly dried up and I presume the players lacked the passion to play without "incentives". Sponsorship does bring its problems.

    A question to ask the few players on retainer contracts is would you continue to band on the same terms as the majority of us if the contract ends? I'm happy to play in a band where the members attend for the pleasure of playing. But a contract band with no empty seats (retained deps) at rehearsals would be a different experience. Nine out of Ten years the National Prizes are shared between such bands.
  10. I think the answer would be that there is basically very little reason to want to sponsor a band. The answer is in the fact that so few bands can gain sponsorship!
  11. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    A question for the accountants amongst us, is sponsership deductable before tax?

    if it is then any 'free' advertising could be of interest to a company?

    I ask this because I was once asked to spend some money before the year end, ok it was only a few 100, but maybe the same rules apply?
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007
  12. Baritonedeaf

    Baritonedeaf Member

    When i used to play with Ilkeston Brass - they were sponsored by the local Toyota dealership "The band infront is..."

    The MD of company basically enjoyed listening to the band, and so did his wife, so he offered to sponsor them. No real personal gain I wouldn't have thought, its not like we got on the telly in the Midlands 2nd Section!

    So sometimes it is just a way of saying that someone enjoys listening to the band.
  13. Ipswich trom

    Ipswich trom Member

    The Co op in it's various forms seems to sponsor a few bands. Our local Co op has a Member Education Department and they organise thriving groups ranging from Ladies Choirs, Junior drama groups and they also sponsor our band. The reason they do it really has it's origins in the Co-operative societies and there "raison d'etre".

    Our local "East of England" Co op extends us generous sponsorship which they prefer us to refer to as "Support" and it comes in various forms. They give us a generous amount of financial support, a free bandroom which includes heating, lighting etc at no cost to us. They undertake printing for us and administer our patrons scheme and production of our quaterly newsletter.

    Put simply, they are an excellent sponsor and much more. They are extremely proud of us too and all they ask of us is to play at 3 functions a year that they organise. They are more bothered about the local concerts that we give than any contest that we enter and quite rightly so in my opinion. We have an excellent relationship with them and long may it continue.

    They obviously think that it is wothwhile continuing this support as we are now into our 15th year with them.
  14. bertiebass

    bertiebass New Member

    Having not played for a sponsored band, surely you would get more money from local authority grants, donations, and paid gigs if you weren't sponsored. Surely this would dry up if you were sponsored, plus the amount of free gigs for the sponsor asks you to do?
  15. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe Wigston is in an unfortunate minority, but we get exactly diddly-squat from our local authority. They couldn't even be bothered to turn up for our free centinery anniversary concert a few years ago. But I guess thats another story.

    There are pros and cons to both I guess, but in my previous post I was more talking about a small sponsorship to help out with specific events - a concert, tour, coach for contests etc etc.
  16. Baritonedeaf

    Baritonedeaf Member

    Officially we are the City of Birmingham Brass Band because we were sponsored by the City - lucky to get anything now, we actually don't recieve anything as sponsorship - although we did apply for a grant to part fund our recent recording.
  17. Ipswich trom

    Ipswich trom Member

    Not sure on this one. Why would you get more grants etc if you aren't sponsored. In my experience, there are very little in the way of grants and donations coming our way! As for paid gigs, the sponsored or not sponsored situation makes no difference at all. Mrs Smith that wants a band for her fete is not going to bother whether you are or not, she just wants a local band.

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