Less than two years after my band formed, we were offered a sponsorship from Budweiser. $10,000, a shit ton of beer, and all the swag we could throw out at gigs. In exchange, all we’d have to do is pimp Budweiser for a year. We said no.
So, was that stupid?
To put things in perspective, $10,000 was worth $20,378.59 in adjusted 2021 dollars (yes, I did the Googling). For further perspective, the band dined nightly on Kraft mac & cheese and a quarter-head of lettuce – because lettuce was still 39 cents at the 39th Street Market – and all four of us lived in a two-bedroom house that had more bars on the windows than San Quentin. To us, $10,000 was Warren Buffet money, or more accurately, Jimmy Buffet money.
So why did we say no to the deal?
Because accepting a corporate sponsorship made you a whore with absolutely no street cred, and every legit band on the scene held to this principle with a complete lack of irony. Nobody took sponsorships. These were the days when Pearl Jam tried to do their world tour without Ticketmaster and Neil Young sang, “This Song’s For You.” And it wasn’t just the bands that felt this way: fans would cast you aside faster than Milli Vanilli’s second single if they knew you took a sponsorship.
Did it sting just the littlest bit to say no? To know that I passed on four months’ rent, or a vintage guitar, or any number of yummy, material/survival luxuries? No. We made the decision faster than you can say, “we drink Coors anyway” (we didn’t actually drink Coors, but that was the kind of Fuck The Man thing we had no problem saying).
Flash forward to a month ago. I’m sitting behind my microphone, wondering if this whole podcast thing is actually worth it, when I get a call from an online wine retailer called The Wine Spies, and before they can get the word “sponsor” out of their mouths, I say yes. In fact, I may have screamed yes. Tears might have been involved. Money and wine changed hands most rapidly, and now it’s “The Wine Spies Podcast Featuring Wine Spies Brought To You By Wine Spies.” (Ok, it’s still called Pairs With Life, but for literally 37 cents more I would have done it).
So, what changed? Was it me, or was it the times?
I desperately want to say it’s the times. I want to say that everything is sponsored these days; that creativity isn’t possible without sponsorship in some form, lest creativity works instead as the fry chef at McDonald’s. All my contemporaries take sponsorships now: Smashmouth does Progressive Insurance commercials; Foo Fighters songs are all over TV; hell, even Rush did a Nissan commercial (A modern day warrior mean mean stride/today’s Nissan Versa, mean mean pride. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but point taken).
But it’s not the times, it’s me. I could make a last-ditch rationalization that the times change the man, but I believe in my heart that the man changes the times. Sponsorships are considered more acceptable because we made them that way…because we wanted the money without the moral conflict.
So, yeah. Just as easily as I slammed the door on sponsorships in 1990, I opened the door with a welcoming smile to one in 2020. And perhaps, in tribute to my former, morally-righteous self, I will spend my newfound sponsorship dollars on chicks and blow. However, to have a truly decent chicks and blow weekend, I’m looking at having to save every penny for about ten months. Also, that would kill me, and then someone would have to explain the cause of death to my 9-year-old daughter, which would suck.
In the latest episode of the podcast, I talk all about my new partnership (see what I did there?) with The Wine Spies. They’re actually a really cool company that finds rare wines, cult wines, highly-rated wines and over-priced wines, then offers them to the general public for up to 75% off. You can pass on any offer, or buy as many or as few bottles as you like, and have them shipped to you. Or, you can store them in your “virtual locker,” wait until you have accumulated 12 bottles, and they’ll ship them to you free.
You can sign up to get notifications about their deals by clicking here. And if you sign up with this link, you’ll get $10 off your first order.
Or, let me put this another way: If you have any love for me at all in the least, you will go to www.winespies.com/pairswithlife right TF now and sign up to get deal emails. Please. Pretty please. I like being sponsored.
In all seriousness, it’s a pretty nifty program, and I wouldn’t do it if they actually sucked. Or maybe I would, I don’t know. Fortunately, that’s a moral dilemma for another day.