Corporate Sponsorship and the Myth of Selling Out

Every professional entertainer should want a corporation to sponsor them. This includes writers, artists, and designers. But instead of reading a list of reasons, I’ll let YouTube star Anna Akana explain:

 

 

As Anna said, corporate sponsorship is a sign of success. Approach corporate sponsorships in terms of commercials. Do you really think Brad Pitt wasn’t paid to hark Chanel perfumes? No. The company chose Pitt to star in their commercial because they expected his fame to attract customers. If someone worth $240 million (as of May 2015 according to Forbes) can get paid to represent something in order to sell it, why can’t you, the creator worth $35, also get paid to sell a product?

 

As explained in our “Paid in Exposure” blog post, you need money to pay your bills. Sponsorships are one way to make money. It’s a natural progression in the entertainment industry.

 

This doesn’t mean you have to lose your integrity or dignity. If you don’t like a company – either because of its business ethics or its client base – don’t sign with them. If SeaWorld approached me asking to write a skit for them, I’d say no. I don’t support SeaWorld in my personal life so I won’t support them in my professional life. But if Apple asked me to create something, I’d bust out my camera faster than you could say “Siri.”

 

thetaxhaven Flickr photo
thetaxhaven Flickr photo

I don’t consider endorsing a company as a form of selling out – for me, an artist “sells out” when they betray the people who helped them succeed. I’d be a sell out if Penguin Books offered to buy BOM but told me upfront that they would fire the rest of the team and I sold the rights anyways, hypothetically speaking.

 

Sponsorship won’t always be a billion dollar company – if a local store or nonprofit wants to hire you for a gig, it’s a start. Recognition takes time, so don’t get discouraged if Disney doesn’t come knocking in the next few years. But keep your mind open for the chance to partner with a company – it just might lead to bigger and better opportunities.

 

Plus, as Anna said, the earnings from a sponsorship can be used to cover the cost of making more emotionally fulfilling art.

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