Music Marketing

Why Musicians Should Partner With Nonprofits

69336_158313987540210_157264337645175_257843_3974899_n Cause Marketing has existed for a while now and has been rapidly spreading throughout many U.S. businesses. Besides businesses, many celebrities and musicians have joined in on cause marketing and philanthropy. Most recently, several celebrities including Alicia Keys, Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake, and Usher participated in a digital death campaign where they could not update their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The campaign with the Keep A Child Alive charity was launched on December 1 – World Aids Day to help save millions of lives affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India. From their efforts and help from pharmaceutical entrepreneur, Stewart Rahr, the campaign was able to reach the $1 million goal. 

Why is this important? In the music industry, many emerging artists struggle to gain recognition and awareness. One of the hardest parts of making it in the industry is accumulating enough fans and support for your career. Many bands are finding innovative ways to market themselves and reach potential fans from creating viral videos to partnering with nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofit organizations and musicians find that it is mutually beneficial to partner together because it helps to raise awareness of important issues while raising awareness of the artists. By marketing each other, the partnership can help music fans find out about important issues while discovering new artists.

A case to look at is the collaboration of Planet LA Records, Indie On Air, and the Not For Sale Campaign. Several bands are participating in a showcase during the week of SXSW as a culmination of a grass-roots campaign and series of events called The Abolitionist Tour: Road to Austin 2011.

The campaign aims to raise awareness for efforts to combat human trafficking and child labor in the U.S. and abroad. From this specific campaign, the bands are benefiting from their association with major players in the music industry such as T-Bone Burnett, celebrities, and the co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey.

Through the campaign and tour to SXSW, musicians will be able to help increase recognition for the Not For Sale campaign.

Overall, cause marketing can help artists that are just starting out or looking to expand their fan base. Artists can gain fans which will hopefully lead to more revenue via sales of tickets, music, and merchandise, etc. In addition, musicians can support or build their brand image with a partnership which could be a good or bad thing.

The partnership will be mutually beneficial as long as both the nonprofit organization and artists maintain their image and do not tarnish their reputation. If either group ruins their reputation, then both groups risk losing supporters.

Before participating in cause marketing, make sure that your goals align with the nonprofit. Whether you are raising awareness for the AIDS epidemic in Africa and India or trying to stop human trafficking, you will find that you can reach a larger audience and potential fan base through cause marketing.


Natalie Cheng (@ncswim881) is the intern at Music Think Tank.

[Full Disclosure: I am involved as an intern with Planet LA Records]

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  1. I completely agree with this idea. Case in point, an indie artist I worked with previously teamed up with a non profit. He created a song for it, spoke with their team and fast forward a year his song was played twice on TV during a very popular national morning show. I think by teaming up with an organization which needs some kind of music aspect is a great way for an indie act to get exposure.

  2. Hey, I am a musician and this is really helpful information for me. I and my friend are looking for a breakthrough in this industry. I think this strategy will surely help us find some way.

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