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How to get Endorsement in the Music Industry

Updated on August 29, 2013

What is Endorsement?

Manufacturers offer endorsements to help promote their instruments or accessories while also increasing credibility through their alliance with great musicians.

Products endorsed range from items as small as guitar pics through to touring PA equipment.

The ultimate goal of an endorsement is for the artist to receive support with free or discounted gear and related promotional opportunities, and in return the manufacturer expects their product or brand profile to be raised, or better still, product sales to increase.

What does an Endorsement deal look like?

What you get: Don’t expect that everything is going to be provided free of charge. You’re likely to be offered an artist discount. The product discount is usually significant and can be as much as “below dealer,” meaning a better price than the wholesalers receive.

The deal may specify a number of instruments to be provided to the musician each year, free of charge. Sometimes the deal is more hire orientated, so the supplier may agree to provide instruments or amps while you’re on tour. This can be of major advantage because the manufacturer will often have the product available at your touring destination, saving you the hassle and expense of hauling equipment. It also secures you against equipment break-down while on tour.

What they get: In return for endorsement you’ll be expected to use their product exclusively, thank the manufacturer publicly, mention them at educational events, and include the company or brand name on your recording materials.

Most of the big name endorsement contracts i.e. Ibanez, Peavey and Fender, are simple one page documents. The endorsement is generally exclusive, meaning that the endorsed musician cannot be seen playing any other brand whether live on stage or in any publicity.

The duration of an endorsement contract is generally between one and three years.

Your brand and theirs

It’s important not to get caught up in discounted or free gear, and it’s not just about the amount of exposure you can get. You need to think carefully about your image and brand. Does the product fit your brand? Do you feel proud to sell it? It must be a product you believe in!

To ensure your brand is protected, ask for an option to approve the adverts and marketing campaign before release to ensure you’re happy with the representation.

Do you have what it takes?

Your career needs to be very well established. The manufacturer will look at how many thousands of recordings have you sold, whether you are embarking on a major tour and what awards or accolades you have received.

Think like the manufacturer’s marketing manager. What’s in it for them? Where and how will you be promoting their brand? Can you offer them enough brand exposure to make the endorsement worth while? Are you sufficiently well respected that other musicians will purchase product because you use and recommend it?

Be the Product Expert

Three words for you; research, research, research!

You need to know the history and philosophy of the manufacturer and what position they hold in the market. Who else is on the Artist roster and what have they done to promote the product? What are the foals of the manufacturer in relation to product design and development?

You need to be clinical

Manufacturers will often run clinics, which usually come in the format of a demonstration of their product or accessory, together with a performance component. To warrant clinic support you will need to not only be a great player, but also good at presenting and teaching. Consider this aspect before you apply for endorsement. A good way to ensure you’re ready for this responsibility is to video yourself demonstrating the product. Are you convincing? Do you play well enough to represent the product? Are you engaging and will you be able to motivate the audience to purchase? If you’re a gun at demonstrating and the video is good quality, consider sending a viewing link through to the relevant product department.

Are you the full package?

Most endorsements are won by firstly forwarding a promotional package. This package should include a letter of introduction, a biography, a recording, a photo and the URL of your website.

Ensure you’re sending the package to the best contact and that their name is spelt correctly and their position is correct.

First impressions are of utmost importance, so make sure you’re package is informative and presented professionally.

How to win them over

If you apply for an endorsement and the manufacturer agrees to meet with you, don’t spend that precious time talking about how good you are. Instead spend the time talking about why you like the product, how you use it, why you want to be associated with it, and stress that you will continue to use the product whether you gain endorsement or not.

If you want to be really strategic, and that’s what I’m here to encourage you to do, consider now which brands you’d like to be associated with and start featuring the equipment in your videos and photos. You can then prove to the manufacturer that you use the instrument or accessory, and that it already features in your personal branding.

Always be professional and easy for the manufacturer to work with.

Make it a collaborative process. Provide feedback on suggested modifications or complimentary products. You want to encourage a two-way-street of communication and mutual interest.

Conclusion

An endorsement should be treated as a privilege. It must be a give-and-take, mutually beneficial relationship of trust and open communication.

It’s not.....what can the manufacturer do for my career, but rather.....what can I do to help the manufacturer with their product?

How to get Endorsement Video

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