I was surfing the web the other day and came across a guitarist name Dave Martone. I was over at GuitarHoo.com checking out their Guitarist Section (again). I saw his name and went over to Dave's web-site. Cool... the music starts smartly and you instantly realize this guy is good! Besides, I like black backgrounds with evil growls of guitar and drumz hummin' through my computer speakers. He's all about guitar this guy... So I listened to a few of his songs and video and I just knew I had to write Dave and ask him for a Kick-axe article. He responded with a rezounding "yes," and the rest is history. I feel humbled when great guitar players agree to write rock'n guitar related articles on real life experiences. I also feel lucky because Dave Martone is a busy guy... He's out on another tour so he was gracious enough to grace our pages of Guitarz Forever.com with his wit and wisdom.
Next, Dave asked me what he should write about and I told him I was interested in how he worked his endorsement campaign. Dave has an endorsement section on his site. I've always wondered about how they did that...
Ok, who would not like to be given free amps, guitars, strings, pedals, picks, straps, cables, recording gear, studio foam etc!!!!!! Geeezzz!!! That would be sweet!! We would be loving life and showing all are cool new gear to the band in pride!!!
First off, why do you think some companies give gear to some artists? Is it because they like them or owe them a favor? Hmmm…..
Companies give artists equipment to use so they will be seen in public using it!!
A very high profile artist has an easier attempt at getting some cool endorsements. This only makes logical sense! I cannot see Marshall giving a full amp endorsement if X guitar player never played with anyone and sit in their basement all day practicing! I am not saying X cannot play great or could be the best dude out there, but X has to be noticed and in the public eye.
So, what are we to do then? This seems like a hard battle to fight. The first thing you need is PRODUCT. Product is a CD or DVD. You need to have this to hand out to people.
Once you have this you can start hammering people with your product. A great way to start is to find out who the reps are for products that you like at your local music store. The rep comes around every month or so to have meetings with the store on what product to restock etc. Eg, You love Ibanez guitars and need to meet who the rep is for that line. You could start a relationship with your buddy at the local music store to find this info out. Then you need to find out what day this rep might be stopping by the store to have a chat with the store owner. You could ask your buddy at the shop if it would be ok to just drop a cd to this guy. If you could meet him it would be even better! You do not have to ask for an endorsement from the rep. You just want to start a relationship with him. If you do meet him, you could tell him you love Ibanez guitars and have recorded a CD using this product and others. Most reps take care of quite a few product lines. You might hit another one right on the head. If it is a great cd with great playing, great songs and great sound, there should be no reason that the future will not start unfolding for you.
Starting relationships with these people is a total necessity. They are your contact with Ibanez for instance. People know people and if you start to worm your way in, life will be good.
Another way is just to sit in a music store and play a little bit. Check out some piece of gear and if you are good, you will have a crowd of people around you in about 1 minute. I guarantee this!!!!
I will give you an example. My first endorsement story went like this. After my Berklee years, I had decided to move to Vancouver to start my music. During my time at Berklee I had put out a self financed EP cassette called “Feel The Silence.” That got me some interest and sales throughout the school. I sold the cassettes in the school bookstore and made some cash. It was great!! I then did another album with a buddy that I had met from another music school before Berklee. This was a recording school in London Ontario. I still kept in contact with this guy and found out that he was working in a cool studio in Toronto. He said I could record on the downtime in the studio for a reduced rate. This sounded good to me. Unfortunately I was living in Boston at the time. I would take a Greyhound Bus to Toronto from Boston almost every 2 weeks to go and record in Toronto. I would lug my Marshall, guitar and equipment to Toronto many times to find out that the studio would be booked by a “client” and could not record that weekend. The ride was about 12 hours one way. This sucked but I was determined to get it done.
Shut Up N Listen was completed and so was Berklee. I had done very well at Berklee and was given quite a few opportunities from different teachers and the heads of the Guitar Department. One of my teachers recommended one of my songs from the cassette tape to a record label. The label contacted me and put my song on a compilation with some other great players including my teacher. What an honor that was. Plus it gave me a certain BUZZ around the school.
Vancouver was now where I was living. The same engineer that recorded my album came out to Vancouver and was staying with a girl that he knew. He invited me over to hang a few times. I met this other dude through him that managed a music shop in Vancouver. We hit it off and had a great time. My engineer friend let the Music shop guy know about my tape, compilation CD and also the Shut Up N Listen CD. Music shop guy heard it and told me to come into the store the next day.
So I went to see him the next day. They had just gotten a line of guitars in called Parker that there were not sure if they could market properly since they were a little strange to say the least. I met the rep that day also and they asked if I wanted to take a Parker home and check it out. I said, “Hell YA”
From that point they set up a clinic in the store to a demo for the guitar. That was my first guitar clinic. It was a great chance for Vancouver to see who I was and what I do. The rep loved it, the music shop guy loved it, the crowed loved it, and I loved it. I was nervous as shit of course but…. I knew I had to do a great job for this to go farther. If It would have sucked, I am sure the guitar would have been sent back and that would be the end of that. I practiced for a month straight with the guitar, and even practiced what I would say in the clinic for a month. I took it to the point of even working in front of a mirror just to I was totally prepared.
Things started to move well after that. Once a company knows that you are doing a good job, and that there product is selling, you will continue to work. Then, another company might get wind of what has happened. They want their stuff to sell also, and the wheel turns.
I am now very fortunate to have the fine companies helping me out.
Parker Guitars, Vox Amplification, Digitech Processing, GHS Strings, Cakewalk Recording Software, Tonebone Pedals.
Thanks to you guys!
About the Author
David Martone, BA
Recording Engineering degree from Fanshawe College and BA of Music with a minor in Music Education from Berklee College of Music obtained on scholarship. Performances in Florida, Seattle, Nashville, Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles New York and Vancouver. Clinics and teaching done for Berklee College of Music and the National Guitar Workshop, Parker Guitars and Digitech/Johnson amplification, Roland amplification Vox amplification. Instructional columns written for Guitar9 Records, Guitarapalooza Records, Guitar Chef (Italy) Guitar2001, Guitar a Bas (Poland) and Divan Music. Transcribing for Alfred Publishing. Performances and clinics with Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Morse (Deep Purple), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), Jon Finn Group, Chester Thompson (Frank Zappa), Greg Bissonet (Joe Satriani) Marty Friedman (Megadeath) and Mike Portney (Dream Theater).