Music streaming shows no signs of slowing down, and that’s music to the ears of sports and entertainment rightsholders.

Deezer, TuneIn and other companies are increasingly using sponsorship to gain a point of differentiation in an increasingly competitive category.

Case in point: TuneIn has partnered with a handful of music festivals in 2017 including Hangout (Gulf Shores, Ala.), Firefly (Dover, Del.); Movement Detroit (via Red Bull Radio) and Outside Lands (San Francisco).

In addition, TuneIn will return to the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival in Seattle and the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.

The company is sponsoring the festivals under the TuneIn Festival VIP Series banner.

Streaming services also are expanding their presence in sports. Deezer in late 2016 announced partnerships with two of the world’s biggest soccer clubs: Manchester United and FC Barcelona.

The sponsorships build on a partnership with FC St. Pauli.

Other sponsors in the category include Pandora (Stagecoach, South by Southwest, etc.) and Tidal (CMA Music Festival, Neon Desert, Northside Festival, etc.).

Music streaming services use sponsorship to accomplish three primary objectives:

  • Access exclusive content
  • Gan new advertising inventory
  • Access incentives for new subscribers  

In exchange, streaming services can help rightsholders with the following:

  • Gain national and international reach
  • Drive ticket sales
  • Engage consumers who can’t make it to the festival

“The audio streaming category offers properties the opportunity to extend their reach nationally and/or globally, help drive ticket sales, and allows sponsors a tangible media platform to leverage their association with their specific festival,” said Andrew Klein, AEG Global Partnerships senior vice president.

Exclusive Content Drives Deals
Content plays in a key role in the music streaming category, with companies distributing the content through festival-themed radio channels.

TuneIn will leverage next week’s Firefly music festival with live streams, artist interviews and other exclusive content. The company will distribute the content via the Firefly radio channel on its web site and the festival’s site.

TuneIn uses the content to draw new listeners, engage existing listeners and access incremental advertising inventory. Toyota, for example, is sponsoring Firefly Radio on behalf of the 2017 Prius hybrid vehicle.

“Working with these festivals to build custom and compelling stations, we’re able to offer sticky and exclusive content to new and existing listeners and offer a cultural and content touchstone for some of TuneIn’s best advertisers,” said Charles Raggio, TuneIn senior director, music partnerships & branded content.

The radio stations also help the festivals and their sponsors extend reach. Toyota, for example, is an existing Firefly sponsor.

“Both fans and brands understand that the best festivals and promoters are world-class curators. They curate amazing line-ups and create huge audiences. Why not use TuneIn to amplify and promote an audio extension of their brand.”

The Firefly partnership affords audio streaming rights for every performance at the festival, said Alex Yount, senior manager of partnerships with Red Frog Events, the producer and owner of the music festival.

While the sponsorship affords streaming rights, TuneIn is responsible for clearing the rights with each performer.  Audio rights are typically easier to secure than video rights due to the one-time nature of a live performance, said Yount.

“A video may live four months after the festival. Those rights typically cost more, and they’re more difficult to acquire than live audio rights.”

TuneIn must gain approval from Firefly for each advertiser on the radio station, he added.

“We’re protective of our sponsors. We don’t want Miller Lite to sponsor a live audio stream when Bud Light is our main sponsor. It sends a mixed message.”