Some info on endorsements...
Found some great info on drum endorsements. This pretty much covers all of it.
WHAT IS AN ENDORSEMENT?
For the purposes of this FAQ, an endorsement is defined as the expressed or implied recommendation, by a popular and/or well-respected drummer, of a particular manufacturer's product, product line, or service(s).
WHAT IS ITS PURPOSE?
Endorsements are designed to increase product or brand-name awareness (and ultimately, sales) through the use of a familiar spokesperson.
IS THE DRUMMER THE ENDORSER, OR THE ENDORSEE?
These terms are often used interchangeably. To be accurate, the drummer is the endorser, since it is the drummer who does the "endorsing" of the manufacturer's product. The manufacturer would therefore be considered the endorsee, although that's a seldom-used reference.
WHO CAN GET AN ENDORSEMENT AGREEMENT?
Any drummer who has good exposure to the manufacturer's target buyers, either as a personality or through their artist affiliation, is a candidate for an endorsement agreement.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO THE ENDORSER?
In exchange for the drummer's endorsement, the drummer can expect "consideration" in the form of discounts on the product endorsed (and possibly on other products from the manufacturer). Based on the level of exposure the drummer can provide, the agreement may include free product, however there is generally a limit to the amount and frequency of such consideration. Other agreements may include exchanging old product for new, and in some instances, product is simply loaned as necessary. High-profile drummers may be compensated in addition to product consideration. The specific product may also govern the consideration. That is, a drummer is more likely to get free sticks from a stick manufacturer, than to get free drums from a drum manufacturer. The amount and type of consideration is usually proportionate to the marketing value of the endorser to the manufacturer.
Another valuable benefit is the "support" offered by the manufacturer. An endorser will enjoy better pricing, and usually faster service than at almost any retail store. This is especially important for the travelling drummer, where needed product may be unavailable in local stores.
The drummer may also have their name and/or photo used in the manufacturer's product literature and advertising campaigns.
Occasionally, the drummer may be involved with R&D (research and development) regarding the manufacturer's products, and may become an integral part of the manufacturing process.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT TO THE MANUFACTURER?
Essentially, it is the promise of increased sales. Don't forget, musical manufacturers are in business to sell their products or services and, like any smart business, generating revenue is a prime objective.
WHAT DOES THE MANUFACTURER EXPECT FROM THE ENDORSER?
Since the manufacturer seeks exposure via the endorser, the endorser is expected to be seen using, and/or pictured with, the product. Sometimes clinics are arranged so that the endorser can help spread the word on a more personal level. For endorsers who do recordings, a 'thank you' or mention in the liner notes is customary. Travelling endorsers may be asked to accommodate manufacturer employees or representatives at performances. The endorser may be asked for R&D (research and development) input on the manufacturer's products. Schedules permitting, the endorser may be asked to demonstrate and represent the manufacturer's product at trade shows or conventions such as NAMM and PASIC. And of course, the endorser is generally expected to say nice things about the product and manufacturer.
DOES A MANUFACTURER EVER APPROACH A DRUMMER FOR AN ENDORSEMENT?
Yes. If the manufacturer determines that the drummer will benefit the marketing strategy, they will seek an endorsement.
CAN AN UNKNOWN DRUMMER GET AN ENDORSEMENT AGREEMENT?
Sometimes a manufacturer will sign a drummer who they believe has the potential for exposure. Some manufacturers have special programs aimed at non-professionals, examples of which are Pro-Mark's "Not Yet Famous Drummers" promotion from the early '90s, and DW's "Young Artist" program launched in 2000. The marketing angle is the same either way - the manufacturer wants the up-and-coming drummers to get where they're going while using their product.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ENDORSEMENT AND SPONSORSHIP?
These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they definitely have different meanings. Sponsorship usually means the financial backing and/or additional promotion of the endorsing drummer, in connection with the promotion of the product. Full-time clinicians fall into that category, as do child prodigy drummers who are seen on TV behind drums & cymbals with the manufacturers' logos.
An endorsement differs in that it is generally not approached by the manufacturer quite as aggressively as a sponsorship.
HOW DOES ONE APPROACH A MANUFACTURER?
A letter or phone call to the artist relations person at the company will get the ball rolling. They will probably require a promo package, and then determine if the drummer can offer the kind of exposure that will help promote their product. Rejection letters are common, as are "B level" endorsements which may offer only a moderate discount on product. The choice is the manufacturer's when it comes to how they handle their marketing, and it's just not possible for them to enter into agreements with every drummer who asks.
ARE ENDORSEMENTS FOREVER?
Sometimes the specifications or quality of a product change and it no longer meets the drummer's needs; or, the drummer discovers a preferable brand; or, the manufacturer ceases production of the endorsed product, or goes out of business. Barring satisfactory resolution with the "current" manufacturer, these are among the valid reasons to discontinue endorsing a particular product or brand. The manufacturer also has the right to terminate the agreement if the endorser violates the terms of the endorsement agreement, or if it is determined that the endorser no longer possesses suitable promotional value.
Seek to endorse only those products that you would use even without an agreement. Avoid being one of those drummers who takes whatever they can grab, whether they like or intend to even use the product. Your credibility as a spokesperson is important, especially once you seek to endorse additional products and manufacturers. Reputations and relationships possess tremendous value, and nobody will tolerate an endorsement-hopping "drum whore".
In certain broadcast or performance situations, it is not always possible to use the endorsed product. When that happens, you should certainly not be seen using the competitor's product! Mask the competitor's name so it is not visible. In the studio, it is common to use various brands of cymbals and snares. Avoid being pictured with a non-endorsed brand, and don't make the mistake of thanking non-endorsed competing manufacturers in the liner notes! Endorsement agreements are almost always exclusive, and your credibility and contract could both be lost.
In addition to being a business arrangement, the relationship between you and the manufacturer is also important on a personal level. Never whine about how you're not pictured in the latest ad, don't make excessive product requests or other demands, and respect the people who are accommodating you. In this business, it's the nice guys who finish first.
I am currently suffering from gear acquisition syndrome. Will trade soul for drum gear. Donations accepted.
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