How To Benefit From Brand Sponsorship Without Selling Out

An Interview with EDGE Collective

The argument over whether bands should partner with brands is pretty much over: the answer is yes. Now, I know there are true believers out there who think it’s a sellout move to align with anything corporate, and that their music will suffer if they do. I get that. There’s a place for straight-up starving art; there’s beauty in that. But, it is not sustainable.

If you are rocking a Facebook page, or playing an instrument with a logo – you are ‘partnering,’ your band just isn’t benefiting from it. So, for those of you who are trying to make music your life’s work and a sustainable career, you need partnerships that benefit everyone: your band, the brand, and even your fans.

▼ Article continues below ▼

With that in mind, here’s some insight. Brands ARE looking at your social channels and searching top playlists in blogs, Shazam charts, reviews, etc. They are looking for how far your message spreads, what your story is, and whether or not your relationship with your fans is two-way conversation.

Notice I did not mention music there? Don’t worry about that. It’s probably not possible for the VP of a liquor brand to “get” what you’re doing as an artist (they probably love The Eagles anyway). Numbers do matter, (Followers, Likes, and Views), but should never be traded for how far your message travels. If you have 1,000 real followers who respond when you say something interesting, it is far better than paying for 10,000 fake views on YouTube.

One of the best agencies pushing this initiative of partnering bands with brands is the EDGE Collective out of New York. We chatted with Ryan Aynes (Managing Director, pictured above) and Magnus Erhardt (Creative Director) to get some insight on how artists can get involved.

Performer Mag: Give me the elevator pitch of what Edge Collective is about.

Ryan Aynes: We’re a creative agency, and we happen to specialize in the music sector. We do branding and creative campaigns for great clients, and music is a big part of that.

PM: How did music become such a big part of what you do?

RA: We’re music nuts; I almost started a label. Most of our clients were looking to reach Millennials, and we knew there’s no better outlet than music to reach them. One of the things I communicate a lot, because of the transition that’s taking place in music, is more bands are becoming brands with their own audiences. It’s all about influencing and engagement.

PM: So, what kind of brand partnerships do you do? Are these 360 sponsorships or just commercial placements, or something else?

Magnus Erhardt:  A lot of brands are still dipping their toes in this. Major bands really only do those 360 deals, and we think it’s a bad strategy. We don’t do sponsorships. They cost way too much money for too little return. We try to figure out what the band’s story is and align them with the brand. Sometimes, it’s a single campaign, sometimes, longer.

RA: Every client is different. For instance, we did a female DJ thing in partnership with Steve Madden. It reached across online channels and some in-stores, as well as live events. The difference with EDGE Collective is we’re not ‘just’ a music agency or advertising agency. We just feel music is the best way to reach the audiences, and brands are coming around to that.

PM: Does an artist have to have a massive following to work with you?

ME: We’ve worked with some artists who’ve had a small, but mighty, fanbase. I would say the quality of their social influence matters most. That means their fans trust and listen to them for what’s next; that’s what we’re looking for. Oh, and great music, of course!

PM:  What can artists expect in terms of money from these types of partnerships.

RA: Well, aside from great publicity, I can also say we really help a lot of bands with tour and production/studio fees. It’s not retirement money, but if you can get those costs covered, a lot of artists can release more music and spread it further – which builds their brand.

PM: How does a band, DJ, or artist get involved with EDGE?

RA: We are constantly on the lookout in all the top music blogs and social media for artists building a story. Make some noise, get noticed, and we will probably find you.

ME: In the coming year, we are rolling out some really cool live events around bands, bloggers, and influencers, and we will have a portal on our site for artists to submit to us. In the meantime, email us at [email protected] – address your message to either Ryan or myself. Send links to music and your social sites, or [reach us] on Twitter @edgeofideas. We look forward to hearing some great stuff.


-Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.

Like this? Share this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.