The Thing About Endorsements…

Too many drummers think endorsements are some sort of ‘trophy’ signifying they 'made it.' Well, not quite. I have some endorsements for gear I play, but I don't for others. I 'made it' to a certain point before the endorsements, but the endorsements haven't made me any better as a player, or more famous. That’s all up to me.

Drummers need to know that an endorsement is a ‘two way’ relationship: you need to give back to the company you endorse. I do this various ways:

1) I talk about the gear I use because I really love it and it works for me.
2) I try to feature endorsed gear in promotional photos and mention it in interviews.
3) I always try to play my own gear, unless it’s a situation where I must play rental gear of a different brand.
4) Did I mention that I talk about the gear I use because I really love it?

#1 & 4 are really key. The endorsements that I have are for gear that I had already been playing for years! And I had been promoting on my own because I really love the gear. You don’t just go shopping on the web, thinking, “Their stuff looks nice, I think I’ll try to get an endorsement with them.” But surprisingly, many people do that!

I have endorsements for cymbals/gongs, mallets, and custom accessories (Thank you Paiste, Mike Balter, and Orpheus Percussion) [See how I cleverly promoted the products I endorse]. But I don't have endorsements for drums, hardware, drum heads, or drum sticks. It's not that I don't want any endorsements, it's just that I don't see any point at this time. 

I mean, I currently have drums by 10 different companies! I sort of like and collect vintage drums, so that's what I mostly play. I'm also not in a band or musical situation where it really matters what drums I play. Now there is one company I'd be interested in endorsing, but at this time it really makes no sense for me to approach them. Maybe sometime in the future, or maybe never. My life will go on the same whether I have an endorsement with them or not.

The Free Gear Myth

I can't speak for every company, or every endorser, but endorsements today are not just about free gear. Yes, back in the 1970s and 80s, when the music business was king, and company bank accounts were overflowing, endorsers often got a lot (and I mean a lot) of free gear. But it's 2018 and the music industry is being squeezed. Profits and budgets aren't what they used to be. Companies don't just give out lots free gear anymore. Yes, if you are a major star in a major touring band, you probably still qualify for free stuff. But you are also seen by millions of people around the world. So free gear is great (and relatively inexpensive) advertising. And of course, the companies want you to be seen with their latest most amazing gear. That's part of the ‘two way’ relationship I wrote about above: you get new gear, they get lots of publicity of you with said new gear.

But free gear still does happen. I've received some free items from the companies I've endorsed over the years. But I don't have a warehouse full of free stuff, and I only take what I really need. I'm also very gracious and thankful to the companies for their support. That's really important, because I realize that they could change their minds about me as an endorser.

Beyond Free Gear

But to me there are so many things more important than free gear:

1) I have a personal relationship with many of the people at the companies I endorse. I like that. They are more than just nameless and faceless people.
2) I do get a substantial discount on gear I buy.
3) I am in the 'artist profiles' on their websites and in things like newsletters and advertisements. I've also written articles for their websites. This helps keep my profile out there.
4) I've done clinics/workshops and other functions sponsored by the companies.
5) I've had gear supplied so I didn't have to bring my own when traveling. A good example is when I played at a major music festival in Australia a while back. Paiste's Australian distributor supplied the Gongs and stands I needed, so there was no need to fly my own at great expense.

Things To Ask Yourself Before Seeking An Endorsement

1) Do I already love the companies gear, and would I be willing to play it exclusively?
2) Am I just looking/hoping for free gear, or do I want a relationship with the company and its people?
3) See #1.

That's really it. If you can't answer yes to these questions, then maybe you really aren't a good candidate for an endorsement. Endorsements don't mean you've made it or are finally famous. They are much more than that.


~ MB

Deconstruct Yourself™


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