Nice, help me to get a better understanding of the endorsement world.
While I really enjoyed this article the user experience of the site on a mobile is shocking.Your social share buttons annoyingly cover up a huge amount of the page and your pop up screen which frustratingly arrived halfway through the article froze the page when i closed it. It was almost impossible to leave a comment due to buttons in the way
good article...i at least have a niche, disabled one finger guitar player in a wheelchair!
great post, thanks!
Excellent article Matty. I will certainly share this with my college music students. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
If there's one question asked most often by aspiring musicians, artists, producers and engineers, it is how I have obtained endorsements throughout the years. People see well-known companies' logos on my website and social networks and ask me what the secret is. I'm here to share my experience about artist endorsements and to bear the reality that there are no secrets. Just hard work, time, and a little luck.
So you've been playing your instrument, writing songs, or producing records for quite some time now. You consistently stay loyal to the equipment you use and you're reaching for a credit card whenever a favorite company announces a new product. You must be entitled to some kind of discount... Not quite.
2: HURRY UP AND WAIT
I started gathering my first set of endorsements almost 10 years ago when I was a drummer for a 22-city tour which had television appearances, as well as shows at world-renowned venues, but why? Let's put ourselves in the shoes of the company for a minute. They spend years crafting a product, they spend millions in manufacturing along with thousands in branding/ marketing. All roads leading to the final element, promotion. Sure, nowadays they can advertise on Youtube and present their product in all its glory, but there's still nothing like the real thing. Walking into a show and seeing that infamous logo plastered up on stage, or seeing your favorite engineer sitting in front of a big shiny console.
3: THE BUSINESS
Advertising as an industry, no matter it's platform has always worked by utilizing a handful of critical approaches. Targeting a particular audience, maintaining a brand identity, boosting sales, and attracting new customers. With this in mind, how will smashing drums on stage compensate anyone but me?
You can bet other musicians are in the crowd. Therefore, I'm targeting a particular audience. I'm helping maintain a brand identity because let's face it, my afro is awesome (more on that later). People are staring at a logo that whether they like it or not is subconsciously persuading their opinion; all for the sole purpose of boosting sales. Now, let's not forget, my particular experience catered to 22 cities with over 1000 people at each show. That's an outreach of over 22,000 people across the country, not including however many viewers saw me on television. Talent, while playing a role, is not what landed my endorsement deals. It was an extensive cross- promotional outreach where I was perceived as an advocate for the endorsing companies. Can you boost sales for a corporation? And if so, get ready to prove it, or the press kit you're submitting to that artist relations department will be heading right into their trash can.
4: ADVOCATE OR ENDORSEE?
Endorsements among many other things in this tiny music industry of ours comes down to one invaluable thing: Cross-promotion. What's it worth? In my opinion, cross-promotion, when done properly with an understanding of objective and goals by all parties, is priceless. First and foremost, you cannot be an advocate for a company if you don't already own a majority of their products. Among owning their products, your promotional efforts need to be practiced publicly. It doesn't end at "instragramming" a photo of that new compressor you just bought. You need to understand everything about that compressor. Eloquently explain to others why YOU use it. How THEY can use it. Most importantly, generate a correlation between you, the product, and a potential buyer, all while maintaining an authentic "voice" for the brand. Some may say you're a sell-out or a salesman, but when you actually believe in the product you're endorsing, you become an advocate. People talk, especially in this business, and there's no room for bullshit. There's no capacity for burning bridges. If a company can trust that you're out there on a large scale representing their product in a way they'd trust a fellow employee to, you're on the right track.
5: SOCIAL MEDIA
Yes, yes... The enemy or the greatest thing in the world. As I started getting older, stopped touring and began producing/mixing/writing full time, companies that were used to seeing me on stage were no longer as interested in me as a valuable asset. Upon asking a company (that I will not name) why they stopped putting me in advertisements, they told me they didn't care how many records I worked on in a year. If I'm not touring anymore, they will not be putting me in any more advertisements. I had to change my whole mindset in obtaining endorsement opportunities in another department of the industry while creating my own fate.
I spent every dollar I made on gear. Luckily, I grew up in studios learning what I liked and didn't, but finally owning these coveted pieces was an honor! As you'll have to be in this day and age to be taken seriously, your online reach has to be widespread. You have to know how to use it to your advantage honorably. Almost every video and photo I take while I'm working is shaped in advance (yet sometimes accidentally). There's a microphone in this shot? Well, let's turn it so the logo is right in the middle. That VU meter is pumping on a kick ass track? Let's film the VU meter. Years, almost 1,000,000 video views combined, and hundreds of sessions later, I was able to walk around NAMM or AES with artist reps happy to meet me and willing to strike up a friendship. Why? I wasn't just pimping fancy #gearporn. I wasn't expecting free merchandise in return. I was only showing off the products I used on a daily basis while being lucky enough to work consistently.
Start making them. What happens once you land your first endorsement? You're going to learn that in pushing you forward, your artist rep has to contend with their bosses, billing, and advertising departments just as hard as you fought to land the actual endorsement. I've had and will always have a personal relationship with as many reps as I can from any company I'm endorsing. You'll also learn that an unfortunate side of this business is that sometimes A&R departments are like a revolving door. Creating genuine, long-lasting friendships are crucial.
If you're in the back of your rep's mind all the time (in a non-annoying way), your name might pop up in meetings about promotional opportunities enough to become the face of one.
7: THE PRESS KIT
Owning an artist development company for so long has given me years of experience creating professional press kits tailored strategically for their recipients. Nowadays press kits aren't just folders full of information for a blog or magazine. It's your professional presentation of you as a "product." In many situations having something instead of nothing is better, but not in this case. A press kit or an electronically tailored version should contain the following items and be built by specialists who have a background in writing for the music industry in some capacity.
- Bio: There're 10 things you should never do in a bio and I see almost all of these 10 things 90% of the time I read a bio in the first paragraph. I know if it was written by a professional or not, and so will whoever you're sending yours to.
- One Sheet: A simple summary of your bio that gets straight to the point in 1 paragraph. Why? Let's face it. Industry professionals are busy people and they should only need to read a full bio if they absolutely want or need to. Feel free to embellish this one sheet with a photo and a list of career highlights.
- Media: Photos, video, CD, etc. I uprightly mentioned above that talent isn't what landed me some of my first endorsements, but I will tell you that if the talent weren't already there, my endorsement opportunities wouldn't have been either. Here's your chance to let your work speak for itself.
While some companies accept artist submissions via their website, the point of this article is to prove it's not the only action you need to take. Remember, some companies do not accept unsolicited submissions at all and you have to respect that. The worst thing you can do is be "that guy" that company reps run from (and trust me, there's a lot of those guys in this industry).
How you present yourself will be an enormous role in gaining attention from industry reps. Does your work speak for itself? Are you a social, well-spoken person? Do you have any kind of niche (like a fabulous afro) that may help separate you from countless amounts of other talented artists? You might not now, but don't fret; these things take time and certainly do not happen over-night. Try to follow some of the points I've made above in a thoroughly professional, honest, and business minded manner and remember that there's no finish line in this business. All you can do is stay true to yourself, your craft, and your acceptance to grow. Good things, among endorsements, will come.
Matty Amendola is an American musician, producer, and songwriter. Amendola is a Brooklyn native. Amendola founded music incubator/Studio 825 Records and is well known for his expansive work on the national indie scene and writing for internationally broadcasted commercials. Amendola proudly endorses or has professional affiliations with Gretsch Drums, SSL, Gibson, Zildjian, Telefunken Microphones, Fodera Guitars, Planet Waves, D'Addario, ProMark, Aphex, Earthworks Microphones, and A-Designs.