So you wanna be in a rock band?: Selective sponsorship
Sponsorship agreements need to be mutually beneficial between their parties. Therefore, if you, as an aspiring band, want to place yourself in a position to make demands, you need to have good bargaining chips of your own to back up what you say. It's all well and good to make promises that you will do this, or that for each company that supports you, but without any tangible proof of your hard work, you'll find yourself barking up a lot of trees to no avail.
For starters, I recommend getting some bragging rights to your name before approaching anyone. Once, you've got a decent amount of accomplishments on your resume, by all I means I encourage you to find as many sponsors as possible. Not only will this assist you with cutting down expenses, but it looks great on promotional materials, can help you reach a greater fan base and, most importantly, give your band that extra bit of “buzz.” If a band has a great deal of people behind it that are willing to invest into that band's future, it speaks volumes to the media and labels indicating to them that they should be keeping their tabs on your act and its endeavours.
First things first, which companies should you go after? Remember that when you sign into a sponsorship deal, you are aligning yourself with that company. Not only does that make you a supporter of their products, but indirectly you are now a spokesperson for them (just as they are for you). Therefore, you must be apprized of the nature of their business. It will obviously look bad on your part if you accept free merchandise from a company that's manufacturing plants are child labour sweatshops. So, rule number one is: know the company with whom you are getting involved to ensure that it is the kind of business with which you want to be associated.
Along the same lines, when choosing sponsors to approach, I recommend trying to find companies with which you share a common vision, or outlook. For example, as a female rock musician who promotes empowering messages through her lyrics, the first sponsorship deal I secured was with DaisyRock Guitars. DaisyRock is a company that specifically creates guitars that are tailored to the smaller physical stature of women. Their mission is very much to promote strong women icons in rock music, and to assist is absolving the inequities that female musicians face. I feel that DaisyRock's and my message are one in the same, and therefore an alignment with each other was strategic. I fully support their mission and their products, while they offer my band a great deal of support.
The point I'm trying to make here is that if there is a cause or a movement in which you truly believe, there is likely a company that creates its associated products. Affiliating yourself with that company will ultimately affiliate you with that cause, and if you can find a means to profit from a cause that you truly support, it only makes the pie sweeter. But don't mix up my words, I'm not suggesting that you jump on the bandwagon of every cause in town just to get free swag. Not only is that morally wrong, but your fans and sponsors will see right through it. There is nothing wrong with seizing mutually beneficial business transactions, but don't let your greed misguide you.