Are you a famous rockstar? Or a guitar hero? Or like me are just a legend in your spare time?
If you are in the first two categories then getting an endorsement is easy. For the full time no name musician not so much.
Early in my career I kind of resented the successful pro players who got the free gear through endorsements. I mean they could afford to buy a hundred Les Pauls and they are getting them for free? Come on!
But of course it made sense. The big time players offer exposure as their payment. They may play in front of 10,000 or even 100,000 people on a weekly basis. Or on TV. Or in videos. Or their album credits may be a real selling point for a manufacturer. However, you'd be surprised at how much you might qualify for getting free or at cost gear. Some situations that make you valuable to manufacturers...
Do you play with a mid-level artist? Someone who does festivals, concert halls, theaters regularly?
Do you play at a meg-church? One with over 5,000 weekly attenders? Are your services on TV?
Do your gear reviews get 10,000 or 50,000 or more views on youtube?
Do your cover song videos have millions of views on youtube?
Do you teach clinics or at a university?
Many of those are reasons I have acquired gear for cheap or even free. But probably the best way for me was to make a "love connection" at the NAMM Show.
What is the NAMM Show? I blogged previously on getting to the NAMM show here.
With just about every manufacturer is represented at the NAMM show in LA in the winter and Nashville or Austin in the Summer, it's an opportunity to meet and greet and make connections. However, know that they aren't there for you. They are there to make sales to buyers from stores. So remember that. Don't interfere with their business. My tacked, and it's really more of an anti-tacked, is to not have an agenda, just ask intelligent questions, be helpful, offer informed advice if asked. Make a friend. It costs them little to give you a good deal.