Endorsements are the stuff dreams are made of. Every musician and Christian band wants free stuff—instruments, sound equipment, lights, cases, strings are all expensive and free is, well, better. Every band wants to feel important and say, “We are endorsed by this famous company”… ahhh… living the dream. Pause for a minute and dream because you are about to receive a heavy dose of reality.
First let me say that, Yes, you probably can get endorsements for your Christian band. They just won’t be the ones you are mostly likely thinking about. So make sure you read all the way to the end where we will discuss what you can actually do and expect to have happen for your band.
What is an endorsement?
Marketing. That’s it in a nutshell. An endorsement is joint marketing for both your band and the product or company you are endorsing. The company or product expects to get exposure and sell more products because your band uses and recommends the product. The band expects to get product discounts and gain credibility because the company or product publicizes their use of the product.
What an endorsement is not:
Grammatically, the band can say it endorses a certain product just because it uses the product and likes it. This is not an endorsement by any industry standard. Within the industry, it is considered to be lying if the band claims to endorse or have an endorsement just because you use a certain product. Remember, an endorsement is joint marketing. If the company you are endorsing does not know who you are, you do not have an endorsement. Just as actually having an endorsement gains credibility for your band, lying about having an endorsement (intentionally or not) costs credibility. For example: Say the band submits a press kit to anyone (agents, promoters, radio stations etc.) who checks on the claimed endorsements and finds inaccuracies. That person has to decide if they want to continue checking all the rest of the information in the press kit for accuracy or just throw it in the trash. Which do you think they would do? I think they trash it most of the time because they cannot risk their reputation and do not have time to check every little detail. Worse yet, there’s a good chance they will remember you as the band who lied.
What is expected from the band in an endorsement?
The company looking to endorse your band wants to increase the sales of their product—that’s all. If you can show that working with your band will probably accomplish that, you will probably get an endorsement. In general, your faith or good works do not matter (unless they increase your bands visibility and attendance at shows). That sounds harsh, but it is good business.
To quality for an endorsement the band is generally expected to:
● Play shows, and lots of them. In fact, play lots of high attendance shows. The most commonly thought of companies for endorsements tend to look at bands that play more than 50 shows a year.
● Use the company’s product exclusively and visibly. Don’t expect an endorsement from Yamaha if you play a Fender on stage or if there is a photo of you playing a Fender on your website.
● Acknowledge (advertise for the company) endorsements on promotional material (such as press kits) and interviews.
● Truly believe in the product and be able to talk about what makes it better than the competitions similar product. For example: “I use these picks.” Isn’t much of an endorsement. “I have used these picks for 10 years because they are the most well balanced and come in the best shapes for the way I play.” is much better.
What is expected from the company in an endorsement?
● Discounted or free product for the band. Many companies have different levels of endorsement. Most of the levels are discounts on specific product. Generally, free gear is only given to the most famous artists.
● Public acknowledgement of the bands endorsement by the company. Most companies put a band bio on their web site.
● Requests for the band to play at company events (such as trade shows). Note that the company is not a booking agent and also does not expect to pay the band to play for them.
How can a band better their chances of getting an endorsement?
Prove that your band is popular and your popularity is rising:
● Have fans and a way to prove it. Many companies will look at how many Facebook friends you have, how you stand on ReVerb Nation, etc. Have stats ready that demonstrate the number of your fans is large and continually growing.
● Have a track record for selling merchandise. Most larger companies want the bands they endorse to be signed to a major label. At the very least you must have records that track your sales. Companies want to be associated with successful bands. One of their main definitions of a successful band is a band that sells lots and lots of merchandise.
● Get radio airplay and track it. Ideally, the bands songs should be climbing up on the charts.
● Show that you have more shows booked this year than last and that they are probably shows with higher attendance.
What is the process for asking for an endorsement?
Most often, your management company will solicit endorsements for the band. Bands can solicit endorsements themselves but the larger companies like the band to be far enough along in their careers to have a management company. A high profile manager lends credibility to the band.
The manager sends a specially designed press kit to the appropriate person at each potential company. These press kits include the usual contents plus a proposal stating what marketing the band will do for the company. For example: A member of the band will wear a company t-shirt at each show, the company logo will be on the bass drum head, band members use of the company’s gear will be in each biography on the web site etc. Most of these press kits are sent electronically.
Here’s links to some major companies information about how to get an endorsement from them.
Be aware that most of these companies get 500 or more e-mails each week inquiring about endorsements. Response time from them is usually in months, not days. Do not hound them. If you have presented a great proposal that really stands out from the crowd, the band will get noticed. If the proposal seems like a way to increase sales, the company will contact you.
And now for the rest of us:
What if your band does not have 5,000 Facebook likes, a record deal with a major label, a management company, 50 shows a year, or radio airplay that is hitting the charts? Don’t despair—start small. It’s just plain unrealistic to expect to receive an endorsement from a major company right away. For most of us, it will never happen in our entire ministry careers. But we can receive endorsements from other businesses. Look at products the band uses regularly, are any of those locally owned? Local businesses tend to support local artists. Local businesses owned by Christians tend to support local Christian artists. Targeting local companies narrows the playing field in a way that makes your band attractive to the prospective companies.
Of course, the locally owned Christian Bookstore and music store are no brainers for places to start. But, here’s some other possibilities:
● Do you always take the bands van to the same repair shop? Do you recommend that shop to other people? Maybe they would give you a discount for advertising their shop on your website or putting a bumper sticker on your van. You could even tell a story about how the van broke down and the repair shop went over and above to rescue the band with very fair prices. This is a great update to the bands Facebook page.
● What about the coffee shop your band hangs out at? Do they offer a punch card for a free cup of coffee after you buy 10? Maybe they would give you cards to pass out at your next local show in return for free coffee the next time your band is hanging out. Would they be willing to supply beverages at your bands next local show? You never know until you ask.
● How about your band photographer—do they also do weddings and graduations? Ask for free photos for your web site in exchange for a recommendation from the band about where to get some very cool photography.
● Which local stores give out freebies to their customers (hats, mugs, pens etc.)? Can your band tie into them somehow? Say, you promote their business at a show by giving out the freebies and in return they give your band a gift card.
● Is there a member of your band that practically lives on a certain locally produced food or beverage? Several music careers have been enhanced through the “Drink Milk” campaigns. Could these products work in between bands at your shows as contests? (Who can drink the most milk fastest?) Talk to the people who produce the product, they may have some out of the box ideas on how to work with you.
You will have to get creative and think about which products your band uses regularly. One easy method to do this is to go over your bands accounting for the past year—which businesses are local and show up as a regular expense? Then, brainstorm about possible ways to endorse the product. Put your press kit and proposal together and pitch it to the business as how you can help their business grow.
Remember that endorsements are not donations. Look for ways to do joint marketing that benefits the business and the band. You will find that other businesses like to “get on the band wagon” once you have a few minor endorsements. Larger endorsements will come as you continue to work on them and as the ministry of your Christian band grows.
Do you need more information on getting endorsements? Here’s the best selling book on Amazon:
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