Endorsements by Ryan Saranich
Note from Légère: Ryan Saranich has been a Légère endorsing artist since 2010 and also endorses P Mauriat Saxophones, Theo Wanne Mouthpieces, BG France Woodwind Accessories, Neotech Straps, Mono Cases, Soultone Cymbals, EBS Bass Amplification, Curt Mangan Strings, Hercules Stands, and Onboard Research/Intellitouch Tuners.
I think it's time that we had a talk about endorsements.
Please keep in mind while you read this, that this is meant to provide useful information and is only an account of my experiences. It is also not directed at anyone in particular!
It is often that I hear people say, "I'm looking for an endorsement". This is a statement that I constantly hear whether it is at gigs, trade shows, or just people that I'm around. Musicians are looking for endorsements, often when they're not even playing said gear currently (or have never played said gear). It's a common misconception to think, "If I just get an endorsement, my career will be boosted/I will be in the spotlight". This is an incredibly incorrect assumption.
I've been really lucky to be a musician who endorses products since I was in high school. The first lesson that I ever learned was that an endorsement is not a one-way street. (Insert company name here) is not here just to promote me- that's not what their business is built upon. If I really want a great endorsement, I have to be able to bring something to the table too.
A great endorsement is a two-way street, on many levels.
The best endorsements I've ever had began because I loved a product, and I continually used it and relied upon it. I once got an endorsement because I wrote a letter to a company, thanking them for making a great product (the product, I had discovered by accident). I believed in the product and I counted on it for my personal success. I had no intention of asking for an endorsement, and I certainly didn't expect them to offer me one either. I was lucky to get it. To this day, I continue to support products that I love.
Of the many endorsements I currently have, I've turned down 4x as many- simply because I didn't feel the love for a piece of gear that I feel for others. I love to play gear that I truly believe in, that I can bring to every gig and it does the job perfectly for me each time and nothing is lacking. Also, you need to consider: If you're not out gigging and doing things in your career that are getting you ::respectable:: attention, why would a company have you as an endorser? Invisible endorsers are a waste of a company's time. Even artists without a good, positive image are often considered to be terrible candidates. Why? They're a bit of a liability.
The best endorsements I've ever had were because I was able to bring something to the table. In many of the situations I've been in as an endorser, I've often worn a number of hats. First and foremost, you are (or should be) expected to promote the products that you're playing as an endorser. This is a given. You don't have to go door-to-door, but you will often field questions from interested musicians. If the product that you are playing is great, it will likely promote itself when people see or hear it. I spend a large part of my year as a clinician for a lot of companies who make products. Why? I'm getting to play music with a ton of people I love, and I get to talk about the gear that makes all of that easy for me. No, being a clinician does NOT take away your other gigs. I still do tons of sessions and live shows each year in a ton of different genres, for a ton of different artists- my primary career is still as an artist.
Secondly, I get involved with testing products and (if asked) I help to improve them. Sometimes even helping to develop them from scratch. Why? I spend a lot of time getting to know my gear for two reasons: 1) I need to be able to make them do exactly what I want them to do because I know them inside and out and 2) I'm bringing something to the table if a manufacturer can count on me to provide quality feedback about their product. Most manufacturers are often trying to improve their products to make them even better than they were previously. They should be able to count on their endorsers to help them with that.
The best endorsements I've ever had were because I created a relationship with the people that were making my gear. No, it was not because I wanted free or discounted gear, but because I genuinely liked the people that were involved in making my gear and I wanted to show them that I cared about what they were doing as much as they cared about what I was doing. Between all of the products I'm involved with, I'm talking to at least one of those companies every two days. It's not always to talk gear either. I often call or text just to say hi. I genuinely like those people. Some of them I would even consider to be my own family at this point. I'm so close with some of them that I vacation at their homes and drink all of their beer (lol!), but you get the point. It's worth your while to take time and make a relationship with these people, and not with the intention that you want something out of it. Most people don't know that I wanted to be an artist for P Mauriat Saxophones for nearly 7 years before I actually became an endorser for the company. Regardless of whether I had an endorsement or not with them at the time, I was really close friends with the owner of the company, because he was a fantastic person.
I wrote all of that to say this:
Before you feel like you're ready for or deserving of an endorsement, please consider what you bring to the table and if you're doing this for the right reasons. Searching for an endorsement to boost your own career without giving back just as much to the company, will likely get you nowhere. Always remember: This is a two-way street.