A lot of young drummers/musicians and people in general confuse the idea of endorsement. Musicians don’t get endorsed for the simple fact of being amazing at their instrument or having a familiar face. They have to have a few important things to make an endorsement happen.
The biggest, and probably most important in whatever potential companies eyes, is having a following. Being seen and heard by millions/billions of people will definitely increase your chances of being endorsed. No one said William Hung was awesome but he got a recording contract for the plain fact that Koch Entertainment saw a potential way to make some money. You tell me if they made any money off William Hung, and if you don’t know who he is by now just search the name on youtube. haha Anyhow, the main point is that companies want their products heard and seen by thousands of people.
For instance Travis Barker and Kenny Aronoff are two completely different styles and levels of playing. However, they both tour/record/shoot drum videos/work diligently in the industry and have become recognizable names and faces. Vic Firth in turn offers a deal to Kenny Aronoff in which he will receive a discount on their sticks or more than likely free in his case. In turn, he must be behind the product full hearted by recommending it to people that ask and even give brief “sales pitches” at clinics or interviews. The same goes with Travis Barker and Pro Mark or any artist and any company. You have to be supportive, just as if you were teaching lessons out of a music store.
Just because you get endorsed, doesn’t mean you get stuff for free either. This is often confused with younger age as well. Remember, you have to be able not only to reach, but have influence on, millions of people before you are going to be offered free gear. The main idea is potential young consumers are going to see the gear that the artist is playing and influence the sell of their product to the consumer. Their are tons of artists in studios or in bands that don’t tour that have smaller followings. These artists are more than likely offered a % discount on the gear that they play. For instance, Sabian may offer drummer x a 40% discount on all cymbals because they see potential in the artist in reaching and having influence on what would be future customers (consumers).
This all being said, it should be pretty apparent by now that companies are not going to approach you to endorse their product. This would only happen if you were a massively famous artist (ex. Neil Peart) that for some reason has no endorsements. Again, companies are interested in producing more sells through artist endorsements. As an example, if Neil Peart plays Sabian he may be approached with a deal from Paiste to get him to switch companies. Paiste wants Peart playing their product because thousands of little kids and beginning drummers are going to see what he is playing and think they are the best cymbal around, “because Neil Peart is using it.” This would never happen even to someone who was better than Neil Peart if they were just playing covers in a bar band on the weekends in a small town. This is simply for the fact that the artist isn’t influencing a large enough crowd.
So what does the company do for the artist? Well the obvious is discounts on equipment, however they tend to be listed on their website. This is huge today because if you are listed on a major companies website, you are associated with them. Someone researching the company, or just stumbling through the site may come across your name and find it interesting and begin to see what you do by following links to your own personal site and videos etc… This may get you more recognition, students, exposure, gigs, whatever.
So there you have it, being endorsed isn’t always the big dream you thought it was. It can be very helpful if you get to a point to where you are going through tons of sticks or want to experiment with cymbals/product etc… However, if you want to be endorsed by a company be prepared to show that you are having an influence on a lot of potential consumers. Have your discography, booked shows, tour dates, social network page, and anything that shows you are having influence on people and being followed ready to present. That is what they are looking for! Hopefully this helps for any potential endorsement seekers out their.
Mike Johnston is an amazing drummer that I have seen go through a couple of endorsements in the last few years. If you don’t know, he has an online drum lesson website, mikeslessons.com, that has recently skyrocketed. You may not know the name but he is being seen online by millions of people around the world. Thus, he has many endorsements. You can hear him give a very brief sales pitch for both the product (Aquarian & Vater) and himself at the beginning of these videos.