GETTING A DRUM ENDORSEMENT
Drumming endorsements rule the drumming world. The more impressive the roster for a company, the more successful they tend to be. Who plays what is a big influence on what people decide to purchase. The logic behind this is that you want to sound like your favorite drummers, therefore, you buy the same gear that they use in order to replicate that sound. An endorsement is not always necessary, but it can be extremely helpful to a professional drummers career.
In this article I will talk about the different levels of endorsements, why you would want an endorsement, and how to get one!
First, what is an endorsement?
This is when an Artist agrees to exclusively play one company’s product, whether it’s drums, cymbals, stands, cases, etc. and help market the gear for people to buy. In exchange, the drum company gives you discounts and special service to help keep your drumming needs fulfilled. Often times people refer to an endorsement deal as “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” The company that gives the deal is the sponsor, the drummer who has the sponsorship is the endorsed artist.
NOTE: There are EDUCATIONAL endorsements and PERFORMING ARTIST endorsements. You can get endorsed for being an educator OR as a performing artist. Keep that in mind!
Know You’re ABC’s
There are generally three levels of endorsements.
A LEVEL: This is the highest level and is given only to the best of the best like Travis Barker, Thomas Lang, Chad Smith, and other huge names in the drum world. The A level deal varies per company, but generally it means that the Artist gets their gear for %80-%100 off retail price, signature lines, and top service.
B: The B level is for well-known upcoming drummers who don’t quite have the stardom of A level drummers…. yet. These drummers include people like Luke Holland and Aaron Gillespie (earlier in their careers of course, now they may even have A level endorsements). Another example of someone who qualifies for a B level endorsement is a drummer for an indie band who tours regularly and has a solid following. B level deals typically range around %50 off retail price, customized gear, great service.
C: Finally, you have the lowest level of endorsements typically given to drummers starting out in their pro careers. C level is something attainable for any drummer. It’s more about getting people to play your products and help spread the name of your company than about how well you play or what your resume boasts. Having an impressive social media following can go a long way in C level deals because they are mostly for marketing purposes. Lots of smaller accessory and custom drum company’s offer these. C level deals will get you about %10-%20 off retail price.
The Pro’s and Con’s of an Endorsement Deal
First of all they aren’t easy to get if you don’t know the right people. It’s all about making connections and truly believing in the product. I’ll get more into how to get one next, but first let’s go over what having on entails. In short, an endorsement comes with great power, but also great responsibility.
The PROS to having an endorsement vary depending on the level, but one major perk is getting a discount off gear! Drum equipment is expensive, and getting a discount goes a long way over time. You also receive superior service and promotions. Having a DW DRUMS endorsement for example means that DW will provide you drums for shows you play all over the world. They will feature you on their web site and artist roster, social media, set up clinics for you and other artists, and really help promote your career. If you have a drumstick endorsement they often customize your stick with your logo and if you are an A level artist you get your own signature drumstick! With endorsements can come access to shows like NAMM and PASIC, extra goodies like banners, new products, and take your input when creating new products.
For the most part an endorsement is all good, but you have to do your part. Exclusivity is what gets artists into trouble sometimes. When you sign with a company, say TRX cymbals, you are agreeing to EXCLUSIVELY play their cymbals. You can own other cymbals and some people even sneak them into studios for use, but don’t even think about taking a picture of yourself using other cymbal brands because that will mean an end to your endorsement. That’s why it is VERY important to LOVE the product you play because you are stuck with it for the duration of your contract. Also, you need to be holding up your end of the promotions because you have a responsibility as an artist to promote your sponsors products. This could mean using them, creating product reviews, posting about how great they are on social media, and more. The greater the deal, the more responsibilities you will have. Take your endorsement seriously, which brings me to the next section: How to get an endorsement.
HOW CAN I GET ENDORSED??
This is the quintessential question, and luck for you I have the answer! There are ways of getting an endorsement and then there are the best ways to get an endorsement.
Filling out forms – Technically, to get endorsement you go on the company’s website and fill out the form they have for drummers looking to get endorsed, but that is similar to applying for jobs online. Unless your drum resume is phenomenal, don’t expect to hear back from them. You can also call them and tell them you’re interested in getting a sponsorship but they get SO many phone calls about that on a daily basis that chances are you will annoy the company and get a rude response. Also, companies HATE it when they see an artist applying for every single company trying to get a deal. They want to see that you truly value their particular product above others and aren’t in it for the discount, rather, to be part of spreading the word about how great the product is. That’s why you see so many suck ups online swearing by a certain cymbal, stick, drum and then tagging the company in the post. It’s usually their way of asking for an endorsement.
But why would the company endorse you if you already pay money to buy their stuff? That, my fellow drummers the key question you must ask yourself. What can you do for them that makes it worth their while to bring you on board.
The way I suggest you get endorsed is a simple step by step process. (This is the equivalent of getting a job through networking rather than sending out resumes to everyone.)
Step 1: Find what you love to play
If you don’t like what you play then there’s no point to getting endorsed!! Find the gear that you love and would be happy playing for the rest of your life.
Step 2: Build your resume
Start making a name for yourself. Make the companies come to you. If you’re in a band, start playing gigs, make an EP, promote yourself online as much as possible (marketing is HUGE – having a large social media following can almost guarantee an endorsement deal). Practice and get really good at playing drums. Create a brand for yourself, teach lessons on YouTube, make drum covers, post s groove every day on instagram. There is a lot you can do to get the companies attention.
Step 3: Make Connections
Try to go to the NAMM show and other similar networking events and get to know the reps for the companies you want to represent. Don’t be annoying and ask about endorsements. Truly get to know them and build a relationship with them. Tell them about yourself and what it is about their product that draws you to it. Also make connections with other drummers who are endorsed! They are your ticket to getting your endorsement because they can introduce you to the right people and recommend you.
Step 4: Patience and Persistence – Start Small
***What I highly suggest doing is starting out with smaller companies. Even Travis Barker endorsed Spaun drums for many years before he switched to OCPD. The famous YouTube drummer Cobus Potgeiter even started with a TRX cymbals endorsement and moved his way up to Sabian after he built his reputation more.*** Find a small company that makes a product you enjoy. Get to know them. For example if you call to get a quote for a custom drum from a small company, ask them if you can talk to one of their artists about the drums. Start making videos with their product and email them the link. Play your role as if you were an artist, and you can become one. Then next time you call to order another drum, tell them you want to be part of the company in an official way and you want to continue to grow with them and do your part in getting them noticed. Be loyal to them and don’t go selling their drums behind their back to make money.
If you can hold out until you can get the endorsement from your dream company, great! But sometimes you will need or want an endorsement from a company sooner and don’t have the accolades for getting in with the big dogs just yet.
Things don’t happen overnight but if you keep at it you can definitely get endorsed. It’s very doable!