In this Podcast Episode with Emily Smith, Zildjian East Coast Artist Rep, we discuss Emily’s personal background and her tastes in music, film and audio engineering as well as how she arrived at Zildjian, different legendary drummers she’s had the privilege of showing around the factory and hanging out with, as well as what Zildjian looks for when offering endorsement deals to drummers. If you’ve ever wondered how to get an endorsement, this podcast will offer you great insight into what that truly looks like and why companies decide to back drummers… It’s certainly not so they can give everyone free gear. Please read!
We had to bold that because I know so many of you are interested. But I also wanted to teach you a lesson (This is Jake speaking)… I ask Emily the best way for drummers to get an endorsement near the very end of the Podcast because that’s the way it should be. What we’re getting at is that many things should come before a Cymbal deal. This means forming a relationship with reps at company’s, then, over time, demonstrating how you add value to the company and doing so in a humble and confident manor. There’s no rush, and rushing will most certainly delay the process.
Being a good enough drummer is often undeserving of an endorsement deal. Now you may think drummers in specific bands aren’t good but 1) you’re likely less experienced, 2) have less talented if you’re jumping to conclusions about other drummers, and most importantly 3) you’re less connected.
Being great goes far beyond just your drumming chops but having a strong foundation that allows you to, first and foremost, show that you’ve invested time into the craft is crucial in eventually getting a deal and an endorser.
If you want to land a deal quicker than any other means, it’s by being influential. Cooper drummer is extremely talented at paving his own way through a noisy online platform like YouTube. Regardless of your opinion on Cooper, he’s done a fantastic job at being influential by having reach. Here’s the deal, create a channel that offers the world something unique. Showcase your talent and make the world a more interesting place because of what you do. Putting up more drum covers is unlikely to be the golden ticket. We’re passed that, the drum cover thing is too saturated and unless you already have a recognizable name you’re unlikely to stir up a lot of attention by doing this… that is, unless you do it your own unique way. This could mean being flashy while playing, upping production value or playing unique parts. All in all, you have to sound good to do this so step 2 is nearly always a result of step 1 being in place. It’s important to note that being influential can, in many instances, be a last step. There are many great drummers who are talented and better connected than they are yet influential. Reps like Emily are smart, and they know when to jump on the train with a drummer and begin to support them and invest. Being an endorser has responsibility. It’s not about free gear and company’s are looking for an ROI (return on investment) from each endorsement deal. Otherwise it’s bad business.
I debated titling this section “Be Cool” because “Get Connected” may, to some, be an invitation to aggressively introduce yourself to as many people as possible. “It’s all about who you know” is a half truth – “How the people you know FEEL about you” is the full truth. You can know everybody, everywhere, but if they don’t like you – or feel your only interest is yourself, you’re dead in the water. Being connected is all about patiently forming genuine relationships with people. If you forced a pretty girl or handsome guy to go out with you after one email, you’d appear nuts. So many musicians think this is somehow acceptable behavior, to form an endorsement by one email and a phone call. Be a pro, be patient, get to know people and value their time. Remember, your world is not the only world and when you offer more than you ask for, people reward you for it. The best part is, you start to not want anything from people but find greater desire to help those around you.
Once you’ve made great connections, stay in touch, be intentional and find ways to spoil those people. A Starbucks gift card after a few weeks or months of friendly email exchanges is a great way to let someone know you appreciate their time. If you’re set on a certain company, play their stuff consistently, don’t jump around. It’s always awkward for a rep to talk to someone who expresses intense interest about endorsing a product but tag every other (in this instance) cymbal brand and doesn’t own a single Cymbal from the brand their requesting a deal. Be honest and have integrity. If you’re reading this, you’re off to a great start. Keep at it.
To get an endorsement you’re going to need skill, influence, connections, brand loyalty and… patience. It doesn’t come over night and being an endorsed drummer comes with responsibility. At the end of the day you may have to wait a while, but for the time being, decide how you plan on adding value to companies like Zildjian who ultimately provide endorsements because it’s good for business. Cymbals are NOT free for Zildjian. Not only are they paying for time and material but for a factory, and staff, and marketing and taxes and shipping costs and… the list goes on for days. Giving you free cymbals is not the priority of an endorsement with a company like Zildjian, but finding a way to make it mutually beneficial should be your first responsibility. Stand out from the crowd and be a pro.
“EmilyS” Jam Space!
Life as a drummer can be hard. Remember there’s always someone else struggling more to maintain their career than you likely are. Myself and the #180Team watched this with tears in our eyes. Check out this incredibly inspiring story about The Ghost Inside Drummer, Andrew Tkacyk, that Emily and I discussed. We’re thankful that guys like Andrew show us just how far the human spirit can go. Hang in there and keep playing Andrew, you’re awesome and only getting started
Co-founder of @180Drums and @SundaySeat. A lover of all things drums. I have toured and recorded with various artists, constantly refining my craft. I spend my time working on 180Drums.com, Sunday Seat and various other projects, inspiring and raising up other drummers and young entrepreneurs when time permits. A good book and cup of coffee is always near by.
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