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Major music events see slight rise in '09 sponsors

 Fans cheer during the performance of Thievery Corporation at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California April 18, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni - Reuters
Fans cheer during the performance of Thievery Corporation at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California April 18, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
— image credit: Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Spending by North American-based companies to sponsor music venues, festivals and tours will rise 3.8 percent this year, but big-name events will benefit the most, a research firm said on Wednesday.

Spending by North American companies will increase to $1.08 billion in 2009 from $1.04 billion in 2008, according to IEG, a unit of advertising giant WPP Plc that tracks such spending.

Much of the growth will be driven by new and incremental spending on big-ticket national music festivals and tours, most of which have maintained sponsorships despite the recession, IEG said. It cited insurer State Farm spending an estimated low seven figures on national and regional festivals this year.

However, IEG said for many local music properties, sponsorship spending is a case of haves and have nots.

"While many local and regional music festivals are having a difficult time selling sponsorship, the nation's largest music festivals continue to find interest from corporate marketers due to their ability to provide access to thousands of fans over a multi-day period in a relatively clutter-free environment," William Chipps, IEG Sponsorship Report's senior editor, said in a statement.

Indeed, the San Francisco Blues Festival took this year off due to a drop-off in corporate sponsorships, and New Jersey's Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival also took a hiatus and instead will stage a benefit concert, according to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times.

Concert tours by major artists also have benefited from increased corporate interest, IEG said. That signals a shift from the past several years when corporations focused on large-scale music festivals.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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