Something my bands are always hounding me about is endorsement deals, it’s one of the trickiest things to do, and one which has a very real impact on your long term success as a band. Now I’ve written about this before, so this time I wanted to talk about something a little more angular and important, getting endorsements in niche markets and how that can be just as important for your band as playing a cool show, being a key figure in your scene, or any other number of things that you can do in order to increase your branding and prove that you are part of something greater than just your band and that people should stand up and respect you. I know this is a bit of a tricky thing to understand but it’s also going to change your future for the better, so it’s up to us to dive in and try to properly embrace all that it can entail.
Every scene has its nerds who love to build gear and who want to get the best possible tone and sounds. Obviously every band wants to sound as good as possible and who better to ask than these selfsame nerds who are so obsessed with the intricacies of the craft. Of course, underground music being the weird insular thing that it is means that these people sort of become heroes in the scene and people argue about who creates the gear that gives you the best sounds. So then a certain knowledge of this gear becomes a prerequisite for truly understanding a scene and working to create something that is truly substantive. This is in turn leads to a lot of niche companies forming which gets more and more people interested in the scene and if you can tap into these curators of a specific sound and get them to back your band then you end up with a sort of seal of approval that can end up helping you for years to come.
This clearly means that getting these endorsements is kind of a big deal and you need o find ways to facilitate them so that you can get these seals of approval and meet the veritable codes that define entry into your scene. In independent music it’s all about getting respect and acknowledgement, and this is an easy way to do it. So how do we get these seals of approval? First and foremost you should buy some gear from the company without any expectations. Just do it because you’re a fan and because you just want to work with the scene. Thank them for making some of your favorite bands sound the way they do and say that you’d like to sound like them too. Just initiate the dialogue and realize that that is exactly what these gear builders are doing it for, to facilitate some of the great art of our time. Once you’ve done that, and the shown how you are going to implement their gear, either by playing shows or recording with it then the door is open and you are on your way to a much bolder and brighter future with this whole thing.
As for the request itself that should be a low key thing, if you already have established a dialogue then asking for gear should be fairly easy, just a point of complimenting them and establishing your value. Then once they know who you are and that people actually fucking care then they are likely to toss a pedal your way. Just be aware that you can’t be entitled or annoying, don’t whine when you don’t get the exact pedal that you want or that they don’t give you everything you want. Instead be grateful for whatever you get, and if you get nothing then try and be understanding and appreciate what it means for you and what it can do to shape your future. It means that you’re not quite where these folks think you should be and if they are going to bless you with free stuff you’re not giving them quite enough to really justify moving forward, and that’s fine. This shouldn’t be taken as a setback but just another indicator in what you need to be working on in order to be taken seriously.
The big issue that a lot of bands seem to run in to is that they don’t understand that certain brands are just too big for them. The world of big gear companies is much more corporate than the world that they serve and this can be tricky for a lot of bands to understand. I know that this is frustrating because most people would rather have a Gibson guitar than one built by their friend John, but the one built by their friend John brings on a lot of benefits in and of itself, most importantly the tie that it implies with the local scene, which at the independent level is crucial. Don’t go out trying to get national level endorsements unless you are a free band, and don’t expect to get anything for free unless you are an asshole. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask for free things but it also means that you shouldn’t be surprised when you get told no.
Gear endorsements are a tricky thing, I mean asking for a discount on anything is a tricky thing, especially when that’s tied in with someone tying their companies name to you. If you end up being a nazi, how do you think the company will feel after all? It’s one of those things that’s based on being friendly and able to make connections and not be a mere peon like all the rest. You need to embrace what endorsements can do for you and then work to make sure that they benefit the company so that you can get more free stuff down the line. If you can’t do this and just act like a child then you have no right to complain, so grow a pair and embrace the bold future.
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