This is my rap to drummers looking for endorsements... and it's not pretty. This is not about how to go about getting an endorsement from a drum or drum gear company. It's about how some companies have abused the concept of the endorsement program to the point that it is not as effective as it once used to be!
It behooves drum manufacturers to have well known drummers endorse their product if the drummer's opinion and use of the instrument influences others to buy that brand, so they PAY them with free drums, support and sometimes money. BUT the majority of "endorsements" these days are not endorsements at all. They are really discounts to drummers who are not THAT influential, if at all. Not that that is a bad thing, but it must be realized by the drummer who is paying for the instruments that he IS paying for the instrument and the manufacturer is most likely making a bit of profit on the sale even if the discount is called "at cost."
I always thought the term Key Player deal was a more appropriate name for this. I know Yamaha has or had a Key Player level. It probably does not want to be heard but most new and smaller companies regard what is usually called a "B" or "C" endorsement deal as a SALE to that "endorser" that will influence other sales. In other words, their goal is getting the drums out there so they can be seen and heard in public, generating the sales. The name, performance or opinion of the "endorser" is secondary. They just want sales and a lot of pictures of drummers playing their drums on their website.
There are many levels of endorsements... AND by the way - just to get the semantics right - the company does not endorse you, you endorse the product. You don't "ask" for an endorsement. You ask the drum company if they would like for you to be an endorser of their product. When I first endorsed drums and cymbals and sticks, I learned that the endorsers who get paid or get free fear usually don't have to approach the company at all; the company approaches them and asks for their endorsement.
I just recently had someone send me an email asking for an endorsement from the Not So Modern Drum Company when it clearly states on my website that the Not So Modern Drum Company does not have an endorsement program of any kind. I emailed back and asked them if they had even heard the instruments and, of course, they hadn't. If the drummer is asking to be an endorser just to get free gear, then why would a builder or manufacturer want to endorse such a drummer who is not making enough money in the music business to buy gear, or not performing enough to have any influence on potential customers? I have seen many new small companies go out of business quickly by giving their gear away to the wrong people - many of who will then sell that kit or set of cymbals and beg free gear from another company.
Being an endorser does not get you gigs, does not make you a star and does not make you more well known in the drum world. Having your picture on a website or in a catalog with 200 other drummers who got "endorsement" discounts does not advance your career. The goal is to become a great drummer, and along with that comes recognition of your influence by the public and the drum companies. The whole endorsement scene has become so diluted. Most people are not impressed with unkown endorsers, with their faces in tiny pictures. If I were to pay or compensate an endorser, I would wait for ONE, a very influential famous drummer whose endorsement of my product will increase the demand for my product. Not saying that the B and C endorsement programs don't work if run right. Just saying that a good A program with "real" endorsers would attract more sales at a profit margin that would buy some steak once a month, and pay the electric bill to keep the drum drills and drum routers spinning. Also a “bottom heavy” endorsement roster with unknown drummers buying direct from the manufacturer is not appealing to dealers. It has become commonplace for dealers to cut off relations with companies who sell direct to customers through a too liberal endorsement program. A company that bypasses the dealer is cutting its own throat in the long run.
Well, there you have it. Mr. Blunt strikes again. By the way, I endorse Taye Drums and Innovative Percussion drum sticks. Now go buy some of it – because I said so! :-)