The Myth of Endorsements - Part 3

How to Get an Endorsement — or maybe it should be, How to Not Get an Endorsement…

The endorsement, the Holy Grail of the musician: "If only I could get an endorsement with X, then I would have it made!"


So many young musicians want to put things in their career out of order. They are so busy posting drum karaoke videos on YouTube in the hopes of securing a drum or cymbal endorsement, that they forget about the music and musicianship. Television is partly to blame for this. There are so many talent shows on TV that promote the idea of being discovered and becoming a star. And if you watch any of those shows, you know that a lot of people on them have very little, if any, talent. They are just chasing a made for TV dream.


So How Do You Get An Endorsement?

 Well, there's no magic formula, or any one way to get one. But here are some basic ideas to follow:


  1. Play/use a manufacturer's product and love it. Sounds simple, but a lot of people don't understand it. Companies often look for people who already use their products, and have used them for a long time. Companies like that. They like people who already have brand loyalty. Sounds easy, but if you play X brand, and it's in all your photos, website, promo, etc., and you want an endorsement with Y brand, well, good luck!
  2. Start building your profile before you want an endorsement. I remember interviewing Russ Miller years ago, he was a Yamaha drum player before he got an endorsement. In fact, he was putting on his own drum clinics at local music stores with his Yamaha drums. He was getting some notoriety, and Yamaha was watching. When he landed higher profile gigs and recordings, Yamaha was ready for him. So Russ concentrated on the music first, took care of building his career, and then landed endorsements. If you are lucky enough to land a major high profile gig, then companies may come calling. But that's really rare. For most people it's a steady stream of hard work, building up your career one level at a time.
  3. Get to know people at the companies you want to endorse, like reps and A&R people. A first step is to just introduce yourself with a nice promo pack/CDs and tell them who you are and how much you use/like their products. Don't even mention anything about an endorsement! Then once you get to know someone, keep them informed on how your career is progressing. Send them notices of your gigs/tours, clinics, recordings, etc. Send them photos of you using their gear on tour. Keep it friendly, short, and informative. Again, don't mention an endorsement. Keep this up and they will notice you. If your career is building, they will watch it, and may eventually respond with an invitation to become an endorser. Always be polite and professional in any contact you have with them. Above all, don't hound a company about getting an endorsement. 
  4. Work on your music. Work on your musicianship. Work on your career. There is no substitute for hard work. Be in it for the long haul. You need to think longterm, not what will happen in the next month or so. And then work on your music some more. Work on your musicianship some more. And keep working on your career.
  5. Find a niche you can be comfortable in and become an expert in. If you look at most drummers, they do 1 thing really well. They may do other styles or types of music, but most people have that 1 thing that they do, and they do it very well. Find that 1 thing that you love and own it! Really, really, own it! Some people are great jazz players, others are great rock or Latin players, some are great classical players. Some people are great educators, or live players, or studio players. Become the best you can be at what you choose. Make sure your talent is undeniable!
  6. Have realistic expectations about your career. Not everyone can be Steve Gadd, or Neil Peart. But you can still be a great artist in your niche and be valuable to companies as an endorser. Also realize that no matter how hard you work, you may not get that endorsement you are after. It's a complicated sort of thing that may have little to do with you or your talent.
How Not to Get an Endorsement

I feel this is as important, if not more important than how to get one. A lot of this is just common sense, but it seems some people have very little of it. 

  1. There are a lot of stories floating around from manufacturers about people trying to get an endorsement. They send in letters proclaiming that they are the greatest drummer and the company would be smart to sign them before someone else does. While self confidence is admirable, companies don't want to hear things like this. They will read the 1st paragraph and then toss your letter. If you've done your work at building a career, it will speak for itself.
  2. Don't use the shotgun effect: that is, don't send the same letter to all the drum head companies about how much you love their drum heads and want an endorsement. Which head do you really love? BTW, the music industry is actually very small and the people at the various companies all know each other, so if you send out a shotgun letter, the chances are that they will all know they each got got one. The result for you: NOTHING!
  3. Don't bad mouth other companies and/or their products. Again, it's a small world. Many people have worked at different companies throughout their careers. You never know who you will work with, or have a professional relationship with, in the future.
  4. Wheaton's law: Don't be a dick! You might be the greatest drummer ever, but no one likes to work with a jerk. And no company likes to have negative reflections on their image. Nice guys/gals tend to have a longer endorsement life.
  5. Don't annoy the people at the companies you want to endorse. Yes, I wrote above to keep in contact and let them know what you are doing, but don't call them everyday or become a nuisance. If and when a company wants you to be an endorser, they will let you know.
OK, I've really just scratched the surface here, because there is no one way to secure an endorsement. I could probably write a whole book on the subject, but suffice to say, this series hopefully gives you some idea and a place to start.

In Part 4, I look at the how & why of drummers changing endorsements.

~ MB

Comments

  1. Hey Michael,

    I fell upon your post through Matt Patella's fb page. I really dig your article and in particular points 4 and 5 of how to get an endorsement. As a younger player looking to find "his place", it's discouraging to see so many guys just looking to "blow up" into the stars for like twelve seconds. I appreciate your no nonsense approach, too. If you get a minute, I'd love if you checked out my own blog for no other reason but to get some feedback from someone who is not only an experienced player but writer as well.

    Here it is:

    www.drumchrisdrum.com

    Thanks,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete

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