[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Rich Nardo.]
Music, as a culture, has always been about community. Much of what we now consider timeless was born from a particular scene or movement. When an artist partners with other locals in a similar scenario, they push each other to be their best creative selves and expand their following by winning over each other’s fanbase. This is an integral step in a young artist’s career as cutting their teeth locally prepares them for the bigger stages they’ll reach at the next level of their career.
What a lot of artists, even those active in their scene, don’t always realize is that thinking locally can be much more than just partnering with like-minded musicians in their city. There is a whole world of opportunities to collaborate with local businesses and artists of different mediums that will go just as far towards building your following. These partnerships will help solidify your project’s “brand” and expose you to new fans that are actively looking for new, local music to follow and concerts to attend.
Here are a few ways that an up-and-coming artist can find local partners at a point in their career before Fender and Converse are knocking down their door.
Pop Up Event or Show Sponsorship
Is there a coffee house, brewery or clothing shop in your neighborhood that you love? Small business communities are very similar to local music scenes and there is plenty of crossover in terms of the type of person that would champion both. Make friends with the team of the local business you want to work on a pop-up event with and see if they’d be open to setting something up.
If the space is too small for even a stripped-down performance, you can always go the route of asking them to sponsor your show at another venue. That way they can promote your gig and get some marketing around their business at the same time.
Playing Your Music in their Brick-and-Mortar Shop
A lot of businesses want to play local music in their store to show their support for the local community. It doesn’t hurt to approach companies where you noticed the vibe of their playlists fits your sound and see if they’d be interested in checking you out.
Social Media Cross-Promotional Opportunities
Even if a partnership in the physical world doesn’t make sense, there’s always digital. You can create content for them – for instance, a filmed live session in their store or photos of you using their product at a gig or practice, work on a social media giveaway, or have them use your music in one of their Instagram posts.
This would be the next step up from a one-off social media initiative. Clothing companies are the most traditional partners here, but it can work with any business you want to work with.
For instance, if there is a local coffee shop, they can give you product in exchange for social posts (which they could re-share). If there is a specific cause you are passionate about, you can invite an organization that champions that cause to set up a table at your show. For most businesses, you can find a way to create a “sponsorship” opportunity and the more creative you get with them, the better.
Source Local Artists
There are probably plenty of graphic and visual artists in your community that would love to partner with an artist whose music they find inspiring. You can use Instagram to source artists that you like and ask them about collaborating on artwork for your release, a tour/show poster, or even a logo.
Partner with A Local Influencer
The term “influencer” generally conjures images of a very particular sort of account, but I am using the term more broadly here. Do you have a surfer or skateboarder from your hometown that you’re a fan of? Maybe there’s a mixologist or a chef at a local restaurant that you really like. No matter what your style of music is, there is someone in your community that has a following online and would be a good fit for your sound.
Rich Nardo is a freelance writer and editor, and is the VP of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.