Endorsements by Roy Burns

Drummers are constantly seeking publicity and the most widely accepted method of achieving publicity today is through drum product endorsements. Endorsements are more readily available now than ever before. Compared to years ago, there are more percussion companies and many more percussion products out now. This means more intense competition and more advertising−which, today, mainly takes the form of artist endorsements.

There are two points of view on this situation. One is that it’s a good thing, since it gives more deserving young drummers an opportunity for publicity and recognition. The old-fashioned point of view is that such publicity should be reserved for a few heavyweights who have proven themselves year after year.

But there is another side of the story that drummers should be aware of and that pertains to the cost of drum equipment today. Drumkits are bigger, more complex and more expensive than ever before. Obviously, an endorsement can help keep a drummer’s equipment costs down which is very good for the endorser. On the other hand, very few companies these days can afford to give away free merchandise−partly for the very reason that their endorsers are so numerous. As a result, many companies, especially the smaller ones, now offer their endorsers “artist discounts’ on their products.

Given this background on the endorsement situation, you may still be considering applying to a drum company for a deal. If so, here are a few suggestions:

Make sure you have some real credits. Hopefully, you will be with a group that has an album out on the market. Even if it is a small label, having an album is important. If you apply for an endorsement before you have some credits, you may be turned down. This might, in turn, hurt your chances in the future.

Compile a press kit with information on yourself and on the group. List other groups you have worked with, whether or not they have recordings. This will show, to some degree, the extent of your professional activities.

If you have studied privately, or attended music school or college, include this information as well. It will help the company in question to form an accurate picture of you and your potential.

Never endorse a product unless you really like it and intend to use it.. If your name is linked to a particular product and people see you using something else, you damage your credibility for future endorsements. You also make both yourself and the company look bad.

Don’t endorse a product just because it is free or just to see your picture in an ad. Try to find out what the company’s policies really are. Check out their other endorsers. Try to discover, if possible, if other endorsers are happy with their relationship with the company. You want to endorse a good product and you want to be with other good endorsers.

Avoid jumping from company to company. Also, avoid endorsing products that may be in competition with one another. A good example is a well-known drummer who endorses a certain drumset and yet also endorses a high priced snare drum made by another manufacturer. This is very close to a conflict of interest.

Get rid of the idea that companies are rolling in money. Actually, with high prices affecting manufacturers as well as consumers and with so many companies competing for the same market, business is difficult. Companies will work with you if you have earned that consideration. Contracts in which companies pay an artist to endorse a product are very rare today. Most companies simply can’t afford it.

If possible, get to know the people at the company. Visit the factory if you can and talk to the people involved. If you are going to endorse a product, it is important that you get along with the people who make it.

Once you have become an endorser, communicate with the company on a regular basis. If you are featured in a magazine, send a copy to your contact at the company. If your new album is doing will or you’re leaving on a big tour, call the company and let them know, then follow up with your itinerary.

Last but not least don’t be too demanding. Work out the details of your endorsement deal in the very beginning and then stick to the agreement. Remember, they have other endorser to deal with too. Also, if your agreement is clearly understood by both parties. You have a better chance of enjoying a good, long-term working relationship.

If you must leave a company−for whatever reason−notify them. Send a simple letter stating that you will no longer be endorsing their product after a certain date. Remember, companies also communicate among themselves. If you “burn” one company, the word will get around the industry. This could easily affect your career.

Just remember, publicity works two ways: good and bad. Keep your agreements and deal with companies in a professional manner. If you do this, the publicity you gain through any endorsements you may obtain will be sure to benefit your career in drumming.