As the bass player for Los Angeles-based band Love and a .38, Justin Emord knows the financial trials of the music business. He has learned to capitalize on his talent and his fan base by securing numerous endorsements from a variety of equipment suppliers, from pick manufacturers to cables and road gear, and Jagermeister. He achieved these deals due to old-fashioned hand-shaking and schmoozing and attendance at industry events, as well as by using social media. What this musician has gained is great deals on gear he needs and loves, and great exposure for himself and the band. For the following article, we asked Emord to share some expert advice on the subject…
HOW DO I START?
“My first endorsement was the result of a demo I did for a guitar company in a booth at NAMM in 2006,” Emord says. “Another company, Mono Cases, approached me and I’ve been with them since the beginning.”
“As I switched from guitar to bass,” he adds, “my tastes and needs changed. I was already working with cases and cables companies, so many of those products stayed the same. The bass world is a bit different, though, as far as other gear goes. As I found equipment that I liked, I approached other companies with a list of the sponsors I was working with.”
DO YOU GET FREE STUFF?
“My endorsement deals vary. Some offer free products, and some provide their products at cost.”
HOW DO I HAVE TO HYPE THE PRODUCT?
“Some deals require that you post online your use of the product, with images and video, and the larger companies require that you grant them a likeness of your image. It allows people to see why and how you use the product. I post images on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”
DO I HAVE TO INVOLVE MY BAND?
Because many of his deals are unique to his position as bassist, Emord does not have endorsement conflicts of interest with his bandmates. “We all use high-quality gear, so it is assumed that if anyone in the band wants a sponsorship, that company will be at a certain caliber. Also, I have worked with the majority of the sponsorships for my band, so I haven’t had to worry about sponsorships with competitors.”
“Stage Ninja Cables and Seven Kings picks are both companies I worked with, and at their request, I got our guitarist, Domo, working with those deals.”
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
“I personally don’t consult any legal help when making an endorsement deal. Even sponsorships I am under contract with, the contracts have been very simple, explaining the exact terms of the deal, such as any exclusivity with the company, length of the sponsorship if there is one, what the company will do for you as one of their artists and what is expected of you to do for the company being on their roster. For sponsorships that deal with money, like a signature model piece of equipment for example, I would absolutely recommend getting legal help to make sure you are getting fair compensation for your product as well as just covering all your bases with such a deal. If you want, definitely ask the company what is expected of them as far as help and promotion for you and what they expect of you if there are no official contracts offered.”
“Yes, there is definitely always some kind of written agreement, whether it’s a letter, contract or just the company simply emailing you and welcoming you to their roster. If you feel more comfortable, I'm sure the companie would be more than willing to write out some kind of letter or agreement for you if there are no contracts needed to sign stating the terms of the deal.
“I don't think spending money on legal is exactly necessary for someone getting their first sponsorship.”
“Your first deal is more likely than not going to end up being some form of a cost deal which they'll either have a price list stating what an artist's costs are for the product or a flat percentage discount off the product. Obviously, if you get to a point where there are contracts and fine print that you can’t understand, always consult someone but I don’t think it’s needed early on.”
I AM JUST STARTING OUT. DO I/WE HAVE A CHANCE AT GETTING AN ENDORSEMENT DEAL?
Emond advises doing what he has done: approaching companies whose product he uses by choice. Find the contacts on their websites, which often have a link for users to input their info to apply for the opportunities the company offers for endorsement deals. These companies want to know you because you are their customer. If your first time is a reject, don’t give up!
“Just because a company says ‘no,’ it doesn’t permanently mean ‘no.’ You could just be young or premature in your career. When you have new tours or albums to promote, let them know.”
“I recently attended a seminar at NAMM and they spoke about shaking hands with the staff of venues when you are on tour as well as at labels. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a simple gesture that usually gets overlooked. While the music industry is constantly changing, an old-fashioned gesture like that can go a long way with a company when you’re first introducing yourself to them…or to keep an existing relationship going.
SMALL STEPS FIRST
For those starting to test the waters, Emord recommends starting small. “It’s a good idea to start with things like pick and string manufacturers, cables, drumsticks and work from there. Don’t be afraid of the smaller companies. Fall in love with the product—once you have built a list of endorsement deals, the larger companies will take you seriously.”
THE BENEFITS OF A JAGERMEISTER SPONSORSHIP?
Justin Emord’s Complete Endorsements
Emord plays a one-of-a-kind electric bass that he built for himself. His endorsement partners for the rest of his gear include:
Graph Tech Guitar Labs
Boulder Creek Guitars
Loxx strap locks
Stage Trix (fasteners for pedals)
Hipshot Products (bridges and tuning machines)
Pick Grips pick holders
Seven Kings picks
Stage Ninja cables
EarFilters ear protection
Brady road cases
Multi-Sonus Audio (ear buds, overhead studio cans)
T- Rex Engineering
By Brett Bush