Let’s get this out of the way: gear is awesome. And it’s even more awesome when a company reaches out to you to help promote said gear. However, this concept has altered the perspective of many people including artists, manufacturers and most of all the public.
Chances are, if you are a musician, you have certain interest in gear. It could be because you are very involved in your sound, you want to develop your name or plain and simple your opinion is that if a company is interested in an artist that gives certain validation to the artist. But let’s wind back a bit, I believe the term artist is nowadays thrown out there too easily. Not every musician is an artist. An artist, in my opinion, is someone who is passionate about his craft, who supports a project and is contributing to the creative process. There are many levels of artistry, and not all of them involve being a solo artist, a songwriters, etc. Session musicians, musical directors can be artists as well without having their name on a billboard because their priority is the music.
You have to work
Companies are not going to simply out of the kindness of their hearts give you a deep discount on their products just because you emailed them showcasing a Youtube channel with covers. You have to work.
Not necessarily work for them, what I mean is that you have to work in your art. If you are a session guy, show them your portfolio, how you are using their products. If you are an artists show your album, EP, tour dates. If you teach are you showing your approach to gear to your students? Basically, tell them where and how you are using their product. You can always do a demo of the product but nothing will beat an actual recommendation based from your experience in real world application.
Gear without music is irrelevant.
You have to actually like what you are endorsing
You would think this is a pretty obvious one, but it’s not. People often get mesmerised by the chance of getting an endorsement. Their celebrity persona overcomes the artist. We live in a consuming world. We are bombarded with information every single day and the internet and social network has pushed the value of a relationship in quantifiable terms: likes, retweets, favorites, reposts, shares. While this is happening the content you generate becomes key to generate interest and exposure.
The audience is not stupid, good quality content is still meaningful but, it’s a much more competed arena now. Each day the tools to create music, videos and to access this content improve. This means you must improve as well in your content. Honesty goes a long way.
Whatever you are trying to portray, showcase, explain will translate better if you actually know the gear, use it and share what you like about it in a meaningful context. Blunt sales advertising is fading away and people are looking for someone they can relate to and trust.
A two way street
I know that shiny piece of gear is a pretty and getting a deep discount or free gear feels great. But you have to think what is the company getting out of you? What are you getting out of the company? If it’s just gear let me break the news for you: that’s going to end eventually and no one will care.
Working with companies can help your career greatly. You can either end as the guy that got the gear sent and eventually either one of the parties moved on OR you can work, give your input, create something meaningful for your career and for a company that in the first place you actually like and use their products.
To sum it up, gear is nice but what is nicer is understanding that endorsements are/should be meaningful work relationships were both parties involved must benefited and even more so help you to impulse your career with a solid foundation and not trends that will fade away.