Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Why I gave up all my endorsements



When I use a term like "all"  don't want anyone to get the idea that stick/cymbal/drum/head companies have been beating down my door. Equipment companies have businesses to run (more on that later) and I reach a relatively small amount of people.

Even more importantly, my reasons for ending any exclusive relationships are mine and mine alone. I do not judge anyone else for what they're doing. Believe me, running my own life is difficult enough, let alone someone else's!

Part 1: Youthful dreams

When I first started playing, I would look at the pages of music magazines and see my heroes pictured with the sticks/heads/drums/cymbals of their choice and think, "That's what being a great musician is". I thought through talent and merit alone, these individuals earned their spot on the endorsee roster, and they had hot and cold running gear installed at their houses! So, my first motivation for getting an endorsement (besides the hot and cold running gear) was outside validation, especially because I wasn't getting any from within myself.

Part 2: The Way of the World

As I got a bit more experienced, I realized that artists rarely got gear for free, unless they were a megastar playing for thousands of people a night. Yet somehow, I thought that as a lone Canadian drummer playing mainly Jazz for a limited audience and teaching a handful of students, these companies should be giving me a key to their factories and an extra large shopping cart! This lead to some truly codependent behaviour around trying to get gear manufacturers to like me, and think that I was worthy. I went with one manufacturer purely because they pursued me (not a common occurrence, believe me) not because I was crazy about the gear, and certainly ended up regretting the decision. Later still, I started to realize that music companies are like any business, and that they are trying to make a profit and keep costs low. I don't reach enough people to make it worthwhile it invest much time or money in me, and I totally get that now.

Part 3: 10 cents a (drum) dance

I know a lot of people who have very strong allegiances to their drum/cymbal/etc. brand of choice. In fact a good friend that I went to university with has stayed with the same brand of drum that he was using almost 40 years ago! Although I remain happily monogamous in my personal life, in my drum life, I want to play the field! I would hate not to try something that looked/sounded interesting just because I stated I was playing another brand exclusively. I know some people work around this, especially some of the more famous "endorsees", but I feel it would be dishonest and inauthentic for me to do so. (See top of post.) Conversely…..

Part 4: The hear and now

I also feel at this point I can get my sound, for better or worse, out of whatever I'm playing. I like most drum and cymbals I hear, and lots of companies both big and small, make great gear. At this late stage in my career I don't want to have refrain from filming something I want to document because I don't have my "sponsored" gear there. I often play "drums du jour" as I never travel by air with drums anymore, and even try to avoid taking cymbals in that situation. As well, even with artist pricing, most equipment is super expensive, so I like the freedom of being able to shop for deals. I also think it's a very environmentally sound idea to buy used gear. Finally, I have found I actually enjoy the experience of going to my local brick and mortar music store, and buying as many or as few sticks as I want! It's no secret that actual music shops are really being hammered by the online market, and I like to support them, just as they did me when I was a young drummer.

Part 5: In conclusion

Finally, the biggest reason I wanted to stop endorsing anything exclusively is because IT WAS ALL A BIG PERSONAL EGO TRIP! It really had nothing to do with music, but rather that personal validation I mentioned earlier. I know that what I compose/play/record is beautiful and worthwhile, and that belief comes from within now.  I realize that some folks need tour support etc. but as I stated before, they work in a very different end of the music biz street than I do. :) Thanks for reading my rant, and I look forward to the next time I play, where you can see me with a drum set made of 6 different manufacturer's wares, a united nations of cymbals, and each stick in my hand made in a different continent! :) 

P.S. Trap'd is going into hibernation at this point, perhaps permanently. For new posts, see my Patreon page.

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