Endorsement DealI've noticed a lot of young players worry too much about the whole endorsement thing. Personally, I think they need to focus on their playing and becoming a better musician. It's an honor to have a relationship with a company in such a way that they would like to make you an endorser of their products.

I hear a lot of "what do I need to do to get endorsed?" or "how do I get sponsored?" They aren't endorsing you — YOU ARE ENDORSING THEM!!! Sponsoring is very different in that you may be sponsored for a particular event, such as when you give a drum clinic, a company may sponsor you by paying (covering) some of the cost involved with the clinic, such as your fees.

The whole idea with endorsements is that you need to be at a high level in your playing — where other drummers would want to potentially use the products because YOU use them.

It's not about getting free gear. If that's all you are in it for ... well ... these companies are going to pick up on that, and probably won't want to have anything to do with you. Sure, getting gear for free or at a discount is a great thing, but this is merely part of the relationship. The question should be "what do I have to offer that would make a company want to establish a working relationship with me?"

I know many drummers who search around until they find a company that will give them free or discounted gear ... and they DON'T EVEN USE THEIR PRODUCT(S) TO BEGIN WITH!!!. Once these individuals get their endorsement deal, usually by lying about their use of the product(s), they sort of use the products but are constantly on the look out for the next "best" thing. What an insult!!! Why would anyone want to do business with you?

Unless you've gained national recognition as a musician, you are in no place to call the shots. If you are "that good," music manufacturers may want you to be apart of their family.

If you want to lay a foundation for future potential endorsements, here's what you need to do:

  • Focus on your playing and marketing yourself as a player. Play as many gigs as you can and work towards being in the public eye on a regular basis.
  • Find a product that you LIKE and BELIEVE IN. Use it. Use it for many years. Show that you stand behind the product by using it. If you really like a piece of gear, you'll use it with or without an endorsement.
  • Once you've obtained a professional level in your career and your playing, begin to contact the companies of whom you use products. Let them know who you are, how much you love their stuff.
  • Contact the A.R. (Artist Relations) representative for the company you are wanting to work with. Ask if you can send them your Press Kit. The packet should include a biography, photos of you playing and a bust shot (head shot), recording credits or discography, a professional demo of your playing, current performance schedule (bands you are working with and if you are a recording member, tour member, or both), and last but not least ... contact information (name, phone numbers, addresses, email, web site, etc.).
  • Once you make contact with the A.R., stay in touch! Let them know what you are up to, where you are playing, who you are working with, etc.

Over the years, I have personally endorsed a number of companies and believe in the products I'm using. Some companies gave me free gear and then offered me a reduced rate on future items — in ever case, however, I was already using their products.

You also need to realize that many companies have different levels of endorsements. Typically, if you are an "A" player you get one deal; a "B" player gets yet another deal and so on.

Some players DO get paid in addition to getting gear, but in this day and age, it's very rare.

I hope this helps shed some light on the whole Endorsement question. There's nothing wrong with wanting an endorsement, but it shouldn't be your goal in life; it's a perk for paying your dues and all your hard work in being the best musician you can be. It's a way to recognize your achievements as a player AND allows the companies involved to show the world that you chose to use their stuff. It's a relationship!!!