The Myth of Endorsements - Part 2

This time we'll look at things from the company side. What does a percussion manufacturer get out of all this?

The best example of this goes back to 1963, when an up and coming English band played on the national Ed Sullivan television show. The drummer was playing a black pearl kit that had Ludwig painted on the front bass drum head. The drummer's name was Ringo, and his band's name was The Beatles. The band just exploded, and soon every teenager and college age person wanted to be in a band. And they wanted to be just like The Beatles, so they wanted the same drums, Ludwig. While Ringo was not an endorser at the time, he was the reason for Ludwig selling so many drum sets in the 1960s. Ludwig couldn't have asked for any better free advertising! 

So benefit #1 for a company is brand visibility. It's all about the logo, and showing it at every concert, TV show, web cast, photo session, etc. This sort of visibility has a great influence on drummers of all ages. "Hmmm, if (name drummer) is playing (name a brand), then maybe I should check them out!" This is also why you see all those shiny new advertisements in drum and music magazines. 

Benefit # 2 is working with drummers on new products. It's very possible that the next time you see your favorite drummer on tour, they may be using some sort of prototype gear. Manufacturers love to field test new items and new ideas. Want to make sure a new product is road worthy? Send it out on a 60 date tour around the world with a drummer. If it breaks on the 3rd gig, you know improvements are needed. And who better to suggest how to improve/fix something than the drummers using the gear. So companies regularly send out prototypes for evaluation and suggestions to their endorsing drummers.

Another aspect is that a lot of drummers have great ideas of their own, and can help develop new products. Billy Cobham had a great relationship with TAMA drums way back. Out of this, TAMA released the octabans and gong bass drum. Both are not only in heavy use today, but most other companies have released their own versions of these. How about those signature wedges that Russ Miller came up with for YAMAHA? Terry Bozzio has helped develop electronic drums, specialty sticks & beaters, acoustic drums, drum heads, and cymbals for a variety of companies. 

And not all endorsers are big name rock, funk & jazz drummers. Educators are important endorsers because they have direct contact with young drummers. It's not unusual for a college professor to endorse drums, cymbals, mallets/sticks, timpani, and mallet instruments, as well as small/hand percussion. Universities often have endorsements/affiliations with manufacturers too. Think of it, if you go to college for 4 years and play on specific brands for that time, you might end up buying the same brand for your own personal instruments. 

Benefit #3 is education. A lot of manufacturers are into education. They sponsor clinics, workshops, and other events. This is important from a brand visibility angle, but also from a respect and expertise angle. Just go to the Vic Firth website and check out all the instructional videos and music downloads they have for FREE! And if you go there a lot, what drum stick will you think about buying the next time you need new sticks? Yeah.

I remember when I was starting out as a young drummer, Ludwig was the big name and they always had great educational materials for free. I still have a big stack of rudimental solos, drum set solos, percussion tips, etc. in my files. The 1st drum clinic I went to was a Joe Morello Ludwig drum clinic. I still have files full of educational materials from Rogers, Slingerland, Pearl, Zildjian, Paiste, Regal Tip, Vic Firth, and many others, all splashed with the big endorsers of the time.

Another part of education is clinics and workshops. Manufacturers support clinics at music stores, schools, etc. in order to present endorsers playing their gear. And it's almost always the latest gear. Companies will often sponsor a clinic tour just to help introduce a new line to the drumming public. I'm sure you've all been to one with your favorite drummer playing something new. You got to hear the new gear, hear them talk about it, and maybe even were able to play on some yourself. Popular endorsers fill the seats. The great thing is, it's a win-win for everybody.

Benefit #4 is that drummers are great people to hang with! Really. If you are reading this blog, you are probably a drummer, and you have drummer friends. So what's better than getting together with your drummer friends? Drummers tend to be really great people too. So why wouldn't drum manufacturers want to hang out with their endorsers? And it goes both ways, because many company people are drummers too, and they're fun to hang with.

OK, next time we look at getting an endorsement.

~ MB


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