All musicians dream about it. Ever since our early days of learning to play we saw ads in Guitar Player and Keyboard and wanted to be like Them. You know. The guys in the ads. The Musicians Who Get Their Stuff for Free. Or, in industry parlance, those with endorsements.
As Chris Gallant points out in his two-part series, endorsements are not easy things to get, and with good reason: they would lose their effectiveness if everyone could get one. If you want one, have something to offer a company when you make your endorsement pitch. They, like you, are in business to make money. If you’re playing to crowds of a few thousand people a month and are working on a second CD, for example, that’s something a company might want to get behind. On the other hand, Fender or Korg might figure few sales are in the offing if you’re just getting a few locals into a local club once every 6 weeks or so.
That being said, a company also doesn’t want to appear a Johnny-come-lately and try to court the artist after he or she has achieved international recognition. As Terry Ryan of SABIAN puts it, “Artists tend to need you more when they have no money. You hope they elevate their career.”
However, if you’ve recorded something, you play out regularly, and [especially] if you’re reading about the music business, then you might be ready for first contact. But make sure you do the legwork first before you make that first contact. Gallant advises the following:
- Do your research. Make sure the product endorsement you seek fits your lifestyle.
- Read the fine print. Know what you’re agreeing to do – the product manufacturer does.
- Don’t take just anything. Make sure it’s something you’d actually use made by a company you can stand behind.
- You are what you use. Over time, people will associate a brand with you.
Yet even as you’re pitching the company, it’s important to keep in mind that endorsements aren’t the be-all and end-all of a musician’s career. As Gallant says,
As cool as it could be, the sponsorship should be nothing more than another tool in your business plan. The last thing you want to do is start measuring your success by how many brands are backing you up. You’re an artist, not a stock car.