I had dreamed about being endorsed by my favorite drum companies basically the same day I started playing the instrument. Little did I know how much work it would take to get those endorsements. Understanding the relationship between the brands/companies and ourselves as musicians along with the roles that we both play in that two way street (remember this at all times!), is crucial.
Most of us develop some sort of loyalty to or love for a specific brand at a young age. Maybe it’s because we get our first instrument and we just absolutely love everything about it. Perhaps we idolize a musician and they play X brand of guitars, basses, etc. In some degrees this obsession with a brand is the beginning us finding “our” sound and voice, since we want to sound like those people we admired when we were young, or still admire.
So, what is an endorsement?!
To put it simply: it’s the relationship between a brand and an artist and how said connection benefits BOTH parties involved.
As musicians starting up in the scene, most of us can’t afford all the gear we want or need. It can be pretty tough, frustrating and embarrassing. To put it bluntly we want free gear or at the very least get a major hookup. That’s what WE need from the companies… their gear and again, super cheap or free.
However, the companies need stuff from US. Never, ever forget that… that’s precisely why I titled this entry the way I did and why I pose that question. Think about it and you’ll quickly get to conclusion that it might not be who you think it was all this time.
Different companies have different policies, philosophies, and different ways of establishing those artist relations. Some companies have their roster of artists divided into tiers or levels, separated by letters (A, B, C, and D). Think of the celebrity rating you hear about (A list celebrity and so on).
The top of the food chain aka the A level (yes, regardless of talent or proficiency) get free gear, sometimes get paid by the companies or they get super insane discounts. Why? Because they also give BACK to the company. They have lots and lots of visibility which is the most important thing for a lot of companies, with other elements such as talent and ability coming second or third.
I must add something. Don’t make the silly mistake of judging people that are endorsed and think you should be there “instead” of them. Don’t waste your time wondering why they have those things and you don’t. The reality is that none of us ever know the true extend of how hard those people worked.
Its 2016 and the economy is not what it once was. The bottom line is that until we become a household name we NEED TO PAY! We are not entitled to anything just because we are good at our instruments. Having talent, dedication or whatever it is we possess does not equate to us magically deserving products that lots and lots of people have worked their butts off to create and develop, for FREE. How absurd does that sound?
Maybe it’s not the free or cheap gear that we want. Perhaps we want the prestige and credibility that comes with out name being associated to that brand. Notice a pattern here: “we want want we want we want” But make no mistake, the companies and Artist Relations Reps have seen it all and they know who is who. They can tell what we want from them and most of the time it is us, with our poorly written emails and awkward conversations at NAMM, that expose our desperation.
Companies need people, as many as possible, to see their logos so that people buy their products but they also want someone unique. Unique can mean many things and I am no-one to judge anyone or say you shouldn’t do this or that. The companies however, have a fantastic grasp on the game.
Social media is massive (how’s that for an obvious statement) and I totally understand all these hashtags on the youtube and instagram videos. Some people aren’t endorsed by brand X but they still use their name and hashtag it. That might be cool, since you’ll draw attention who knows? you can get visibility. Is that what you want? Followers? People that subscribe to your channel and comment on your videos? Just asking… knowing what your goal is can help you get these companies interested. Someone at brand X searches for said hashtag and finds your video, follows you, sends you an email and offers you free stuff, right?
Just a friendly reminder that if you are using these hashtags, you are giving away FREE promotion to those companies. You are getting nothing and they are investing nothing. This is not bad, all I’m saying is that I suggest you truly knowing what the company is about since you are basically putting your name on the line saying I agree with these people, what they do what they do and why they do it.
We are more than a brand, and I don’t mean you the artists as a commodity, I mean ONE brand that you endorse.
How do you get endorsed? I have not idea. I know what worked for me and I sure as hell know what did NOT work for me, and I’m about to share some of those with you.
When you email a company don’t, under any circumstances, ever tell them that you want free stuff. If you word it properly you can ask what their discount for artists is or they are interested in adding someone with your profile to their artist roster. Asking for stuff free right off the bat might be bad news. Also, I suggest not building yourself up too much and don’t make it all about “me me me me me” you know why? Because nobody cares about self grandeur.
Before you even write that email I suggest you take a few deep breaths and ask yourself (don’t forget to answer!) what do I bring to that company?? How will that company benefit from adding me to their artist roster?
These are tough questions because we love ourselves, we think we are unique and bring something interesting to everyone we meet. We need to be objective and honest. Are we being seen by a lot of people and the RIGHT people? You don’t have to be touring the world, maybe you just have a lot of students; that’s something that companies look for as well.
Sometimes companies are overwhelmed with talent and they just want a nice person in their roster. Someone with principles, that’s going to be a solid girl/guy.
When we are endorsed and even prior to the endorsement we have a responsibility to behave. The companies are going to check out all of your social media and see what you’re about, what you’re saying, how, what your interaction with fans are, etc. Make sure that you are remember that you’re in a business where reputation precedes you and companies want to know who they’re bringing in as part of their FAMILY.
What kind of person would you bring to yours?