Is a formal relationship with your gear maker right for you?
Endorsements are a marketing tool that manufacturers use to help them sell more products.
Your band is making a new record, or perhaps you already have one on the market. You know that you’re a great musician — everyone says so, and it seems only fitting that some gear companies give you an endorsement and some free gear, right?
The bad news is that virtually nobody gets free gear these days — even the heroes you assume get their amps and guitars and keyboards for free have to pay, so if that’s your vision of artist endorsements, you’ll be sadly disappointed. But the good news is that it’s really not too difficult to get an endorsement if you have what the manufacturer wants.
What is an artist endorsement?
Simply put, an endorsement is an official relationship between you and a music equipment manufacturer. They provide equipment to you at a discounted rate — often times comparable to dealer cost — and you promote use of that equipment to an audience of musicians and fans of your music.
Sometimes, builders will make customized instruments for you, as well as provide additional services (more details below). If you’re sufficiently popular, a manufacturer may even decide to turn a custom instrument they built for you into a signature model and sell it as a production model!
Am I eligible for an endorsement?
The most important criteria for getting endorsed is whether or not your band (or your individual work) has sufficient exposure — live shows, recordings, airplay, press — to enable a large number of people to see and hear the equipment you’re endorsing.
Regardless of all the feel-good “we love your music” stuff, at the end of the day, endorsements are a marketing tool that manufacturers use to help them sell more products. If you’ve got a recording project in your basement that isn’t playing live shows, has no distribution deal, and no established fan base, forget about an endorsement. You’re not in a position to help the manufacturer sell more gear.
If, however, you’re in an indie band that is playing clubs, festivals, touring, opening for headliners, etc., you’re very likely to obtain endorsements if you seek them.
It’s not all about original music, though. If you’re in a busy Top 40 cover band that plays weekly shows with crowds of 500 or more people, you are quite likely to obtain an endorsement if you pursue one, too (though some companies may only strike deals with original acts — this will vary, of course).
Even popular music educators are likely to obtain endorsements. If you teach at a well known music school (Berklee, Musicians Institute, The Collective, etc.), you’re in a position to influence many aspiring professional musicians, and this is of value to manufacturers.