And now a word about sponsorships: ka-ching!

Spending on live music up over '07

Nashville — North American-based companies will spend an estimated $1.04 billion to sponsor music venues, festivals, tours and concerts this year, a 4% increase over 2007, according to a new study.

"The 4% growth rate is down from the double-digit increases seen in previous years, due in large part to the slowing economy," said William Chipps, senior editor of IEG Sponsorship Report, which tracks sponsorship spending. "But, by and large, corporate spending on live music remains healthy."

Trends include multifaceted "bundled" deals for companies as opposed to sponsorship of one event, tour or venue. An example of this strategy is Live Nation's estimated $100 million deal with Citi Cards, which includes tour sponsorships, ticketing, venues and one-off events like Billy Joel's summer concerts at Shea Stadium in New York.

Also benefiting from sponsor dollars are national, regional and touring festivals, including new additions to the live scene such as Michigan's Rothbury Festival, New Jersey's All Points West Music & Arts Festival and the touring Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival.

IEG said the live music industry also is tapping into spending by categories and companies not traditionally involved in music. For example, Crocs this year signed new deals with roughly 30 music festivals and venues, including Milwaukee's Summerfest, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, Seattle's Bumbershoot and the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

Additionally, brands and acts are finding these relationships rewarding enough to re-up. BlackBerry sponsored John Mayer's 2007 tour, a first for both parties, and announced this week that both would be partnering again on Mayer's 2008 tour.

Active categories sponsoring live music include airlines, apparel, auto, beer, cable, computer storage makers, energy drinks, insurance, soft drinks and wireless telecommunications.

Ray Waddell is an executive director at Billboard.