Master your craft: Understanding endorsements deals

By Greg McVeigh. Adapted for South African audiences by Andile Nkosi
 


Volvo cars are all over Proverb's videos
You’ve seen Proverb partnering with Volvo; Danny-K with KIA; AKA with Axe; and recently Khuli Chana with KFC; and wondered what the bases of these relationships? How do these artists get these deals? Did Khuli Chana approach KFC or vice-verse? All these questions fall under the endorsements basket. Below is Greg McVeigh’s take product endorsements.
 
Product endorsements, for many manufacturers of music and sound equipment, are a big part of their marketing strategy. Simply put, endorsements are designed to increase product or brand-name awareness, and ultimately sales, through the use of a familiar spokesperson. To have a big-name artist or DJ using and singing the praises of a particular brand of CDJs, drums or microphones is always valuable.
 




Endorsements by themselves are also cost effective when compared to other means of advertising. Giving away few products e.g. cosmetics, cellphones, CDJs etc. and adding that musician to the product manufacturer's website and press releases is a lot cheaper than many other forms of advertising. There is also a "chumming the waters" effect when the musician spreads the word about a product based on testimony by a respected performer.  
 
IMPORTANT: A few words about endorsement terms: You as the artist are the endorser; the brand is the endorsee. I see these two words mixed up many times, not only by the artist but often by the brand manufacturers. If you are using X Brand clothing, you are the endorser. You as the artist are not the endorsee.
 
Endorsement deals are a partnership and you should think that way when approaching any brand. There are varying degrees to this and a lot of grey area. Frankly, much of the depth in an endorsement situation is what you bring to it. Some product endorsers work closely with the factory to give ideas and suggestions for new product development and ways to improve existing products. You don't necessarily have to be a high-profile musician to lend some insight to the factory and they appreciate it. Other times the partnership is merely based on what I call "mutual bragging rights." That is to say that the factory gets to tell their dealers and customers that you are using the gear. They are happy about it and that's about it. Meanwhile you get to tell your contacts that you endorse a product that you use in your craft.
 
When you decide to approach a factory about endorsing their product you should only seek deals with products that you love using. That means products that you are proud to use even if you were paying list price for. Okay, maybe not list price, but you get the idea. Brand’s artist relations teams love passion from musicians. Be selective, have integrity and you will go much further.
 
The nitty-gritty of submitting an endorsement request to a manufacturer is relatively simple at least in the beginning. Send a letter with a press kit and if possible a recent CD of you and your band's music.
 
IMPORTANT: Proof and re-proof your e-mail. Brands can tell when someone is just doing a mass e-mail wanting any kind of free gear. Research the brand so that in your proposal you sound like you know what you are talking about. Know, too, that brands talk to each other. So don’t lie about your achievements, social media following and previous endorsements. You can bet that they will make a few calls to verify.
 
So, what exactly does the factory look for in selecting to work with one particular artist? Two things, movement and visibility. They want to know that the product will be used in front of as many people as possible. To do that, the artist should have some sort of management in place (it can be one of the group members), a touring or performing schedule that is serious, records available via online services or through CD sales, and a good Web site. Be prepared to have links in any and all of these places to the manufacturer's Web site.
 
Mr KFC - Khuli Chana
 
 
I should mention that independent artists and club musicians often play a big role in artist relations. In other words, it's not just for the superstars. The difficulty, though, for the manufacturer is knowing who to work with and bring into their "fold." In this day and age of musical chaos (some would say "good chaos) in the industry, it becomes less clear which artists are going to have "legs" and be around for a period of time. Regardless of stature, the process is remarkably similar for both the club musician and the established artist. Both need to state their case and sell themselves to the manufacturer. Know that when you see rapper K.O wearing Head-Honco gear he is doing the work of an artist endorser. You can and should be doing the same.
 
Once the decision has been made by the brand to work with a given artist, some sort of contract (they vary wildly from one manufacturer to another) will be drawn up stating the terms and conditions and length of the agreement. It will also state what product will be given and if that product is free or not. In recent years manufacturers have cut back on the amount of free stuff even to endorsers. Similar to complimentary tickets from an artist are now hard to come by.
 
Artist relations and product endorsements, when all parties are focused and on the same mission can be a great experience for an artist. They get the latest and greatest products and are considered to be a true "friend of the brand." For the manufacturer, there is no better feeling than seeing your logo on stage or on a television broadcast.
 
A scene from K.O's video "Caracara"
 
Endorsement talk makes one wonder if the HALLS SWEETS on the “Caracara” video or the MONSTER ENERGY DRINK truck on the “Son of A Gun” music videos by K.O are coincidentally there. When you think about it, over 1.5 million people have viewed the Caracara video meaning over 1.5 million people engaged the HALLS logo in that video. So, when you get into a relationship with a brand, think about the big picture and its possibilities.
 
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