DRUM EXPO 2013: If you're a working drummer, when you reach a certain level you will be looking for product support from the gear companies. Here's some handy advice on how to approach your first endorsement from industry insiders who know the score.
…be professional at all times
"Don't be pushy or take the tack, 'I've played Zildjian my whole life, they're the only cymbals for me, but if you don't sign me I've got offers from other companies...' You want to make the best possible impression and making a statement that basically amounts to a 'threat' won't win you any fans at any company.
"You're selling yourself not only as a drummer and ambassador for the brand, but as someone the company will enjoy working with for years to come." John DeChristopher, Vice President, Artist Relations and Event Marketing Worldwide, Zildjian Company
…take a deal and run
"We expect close personal contact; reports on activities on a regular basis, feedback on our existing instruments, input for new sound concepts. Credit on records, DVDs, tour programs, websites and other media. A good sense of product branding, ie: be willing to put a logo sticker on their bass drum, wear brand fashion and mention the Paiste name in interviews." Christian Wenzel, Artist relations Manager, Paiste
…be familiar with the brand, the product and the company
"The most important and most relative point is the player must be interested in the company and understand what an endorsement means and the responsibilities that come with it. They must know that an endorsement is not an entitlement, it is a relationship that is earned." Otto Choi, Artist Support And Services, Mapex
…approach a company before you have anything to offer
"Be patient and focus on your playing and career first. A lot of drummers want endorsements before they have established themselves. Concentrate on improving your craft, getting the right gigs and building up your career and network. Then think about endorsements." Aaron Vishria, Artist Relations Manager, Tama
…compile a high-quality and up-to-date portfolio
"Have a press kit together. It should include a brief bio telling us about yourself, your age, playing and recording credits, audio and/or video samples of your playing, relevant press coverage, tour dates, management and record label info and your equipment specs. You should also tell us why you are seeking an endorsement deal." Aaron Vishria (Tama)
…lie about your assets or ability
"Don't fabricate or inflate what your situation really is. Be honest and straight-ahead. Honesty is the best policy. If you are simply searching for a deal and you do not care who it is with, be honest about that. At least the company knows exactly who they are about to deal with." Otto Choi (Mapex)
…have some assets to offer as a player
"The applicant should be actively touring on a multi-national or international basis with a widely-known, successful group. They should have high quality recorded performances and original music released on CD/DVD, preferably on a major record label, and stable chart ranking.
"Ideally they will have the highest possible musical ability and widest artistic range in order to create a true educational influence." Christian Wenzel (Paiste)
…put undue pressure on a company whilst they are evaluating your application
"Make contact, send in your press kit if asked to do so, then allow at least a couple of weeks before following up. It's not necessary to call and email day after day asking for a decision, and doing so may work against you. The application process gives us a glimpse into what it would be like to work with someone.
"Consider the impression you make from the start. Artist Relations reps are incredibly busy, and taking care of existing endorsers often takes priority." Aaron Vishria (Tama)
…remember you are entering into a business relationship
"This is a business partnership and not just about free product; we are using your fame and influence to sell products and hopefully help you in your career with great support and exposure. Play the products you feel passionate about and don't just go for the free deal. Don't sell out!" Jay Medynski, Artist Relations Manager, Regal Tip
…be disappointed if it doesn't work out first time
"Don't get discouraged if you don't get a favourable response fi rst time round. Even if you get turned down the first time, this is not necessarily a reflection on you as a drummer. We take our artist support VERY seriously, and we would not be doing the relationship justice unless we were fully confident of being able to commit to it with all due resources." Otto Choi (Mapex)
…nurture that relationship
"Hopefully we as a company help the drummer enjoy what they do best - play drums - and if that is the case then the good-will factor is important. If they're in an ad or article or not they still can talk up DW with confidence and can say why they want to play DW or why they choose DW." Scott Garrison, Artists Relations Manager, DW
…assume the gear will be free
"We couldn't stay in business almost 400 years if we gave free gear to everyone. There are many artists who are happy to purchase cymbals at a professional discount and develop a relationship with Zildjian, but even at that level, an artist needs to have something to offer.
"Product endorsements are about promoting a company's brand to consumers through the association of influential endorsers." John DeChristopher (Zildjian)