Corporate sponsorships continue to play an important role in the touring industry as various companies partner with artists to reach potential consumers.

In 2008, approximately $1.04 billion will be spent on live music sponsorship, according to IEG Sponsorship Report senior editor Bill Chipps, who moderated the "We Can Work It Out" panel today (Nov. 20) at the Billboard Touring Conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.

Although many recent tour sponsorships have proven to be effective, most companies aren't "sitting around their office waiting to sponsor the next act," Live Nation Alliances president Russell Wallach said. "So we spend a lot of time with agents and managers trying to help them understand what [companies] are looking for."

Wallach noted that corporate sponsors are more likely to partner with artists that are willing to participate in hands-on marketing of a product, which may include meet-and-greets at concerts, and participating in viral marketing campaigns and webisodes. "It's not putting up an advertisement on the concourse" of a venue, he said.

As an example of partnering brands with artists, GMR Entertainment managing director of global operations Bobby Oppenheim pointed to a recent partnership between rapper Ludacris and men's body spray brand Axe. Since Ludacris didn't want to participate in hands-on marketing for Axe, the rapper instead accepted a tour bus from the company, who branded the inside of the bus with Axe logos. The bus served as the primary spot where Ludacris did most of his press interviews and meet-and-greets, which automatically exposed fans to the brand, Oppenheim said.

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