View Full Version : Sponsorships
I have been playing mandolin for a year and 2 months, I'm 15, I play as much as I can(4-8 hours a day). I am halfway into the advance level and I'm going to play for a living. I am thinking about seeing if I can get sponsored in about a year. I was wondering if I could have some of ya'lls opinion on getting sponsored. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif
What do you mean by sponsored? A builder supplying you with an instrument and paying you for an endorsement? Someone just offering to help support you so you can make music?
If you are talking about signing on with a record label, thats generally a good way to start a career in music =)
But honestly, speaking as someone who is almost in your exact situation (I'm also 15, and have been playing for just under a year) I think at this point in your musical life its more important to enjoy making your music, whatever that may be. If you enjoy the music, then invariably you will get better at it, and when you improve, you will start to play gigs, and start to get noticed.
As much as I would like to think that I'm "going to play for a living" -- we are 15 man...what the heck do we know?
*Oh, and as a PS, if you live in Alabama, or really anywhere in the southeast, we should get together and jam some =)*
I'd take Joe's advice. I'm in the same boat as you. I'm 16 and have been playing for the past 5 years. Keep playing, practicing, and jamming with other people. You can only get better. Start looking for professional workshops. Talk to the teachers. They will be able to give you a little advice and guidance. Also, don't let pride get in the way of enjoying the music. I used to really uptight around other young pickers because I always felt like I had to be better than them. It held me back so much. Since I have gotten over that, I have made a lot of frends and learned a lot from them.
What style of music do you play? Someday, we need to have a mandocafe pickin' meeting.
I think until you've made a name for yourself (winning some picking contests) or played in front of some talented people in the music industry, your chances of a sponsorship are pretty slim. Maintain your humility, practice, focus, and learn from those around you to improve your skills.
If the H in your screen name is supposed to be upper case, and you really live into your screen name, don't worry too much about everything. Be patient. Play in your community. Put your playing into community service.
I don't know of tons of pickers, young-old-pro-or semi pro, who have lucrative sponsorship deals. You know the old adage -- You know how to get a million dollars in the music business? Start with two million.
Good luck, keep pickin!
Need to have the draw of a NASCAR race, first, and wear a suit with a lot of logos on it
and stand in front of a banner with more advertising space on it.
I'd avoid the Go Army approach, the Go may be you, and not in a USO show.
look for Scholarships, and take more music education courses ,learn more band instruments.
there will be a good number of boomers teaching in the schools retiring, and teaching the next generation is always a worthy effort.
Jamie's advice is spot on. I would add that if you are serious then you should attend IBMA next year and start making friends and talking to potential sponsors. They will be happy to tell you what they are looking for in a player.
In the meantime you should focus on your playing. A sponsor might give you some strings or lend you an instrument, but it's very rare to recieve any money. You'll need to be able to get gigs in order to make a living and so you'll need to practice a lot, and be someone that people want to play with.
Best of luck
Thanks, I mean a builder supplying me with an instrument and paying me for an endorsement. I LOVE mandolin. I've practiced my pentonic scales alot lately. I live in north alabama. I know that I'm going to play for a living because, my teacher Stan Wilemon, said that in 2 years I can easely be world class. I know a guy that plays banjo and he's sponsored by gibson and he gets a new banjo every 3 years. Is it the same way with mandolins?
I'm just north of Birmingham, we should get together and jam some! I don't know how far away you are, or what kind of music you play, but it doesn't really matter =)
If this Stan character isn't too far away, I may look into getting lessons from him as well. I have been teaching myself for the past year, but I think I could grow exponentially with a teacher.
I've been playing for a long time now and I'm just about to the point where I can walk into the supermarket and get what I need based on my good looks. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
Curt, do the ladies really care what you look like when you drive an '84 Camry?
I was once in exactly the same situation you're in. I used to be almost exclusively a flatpicker. At 14 I was taking lessons from Adam Granger (those into flatpicking guitar may well recognize the name as he has a column in flatpicking Guitar magazine and has been one of the instructors at some of the Kaufmann camps). At 16 I took 3rd at Winfield (this is showing my age, but the winner was some 14 year old brat named O'Conner. . ..I think the first name was Mike or Mark or something like that #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif ). At that time I too thought for certain my career would be in music. But then by 19 I was back in college studying for something that might actually pay the rent and occasionally provide for a dinner out (rather than hot dogs and beans at home).
I hate to be the one throwing cold water on the dreams, but my advice would be to temper those dreams with other options. E.G. if you're not already in a national spotlight in the first year or so out of high school (definately finish high school) then consider a degree in music (you can even specify bluegrass at a few schools). That way you're meeting more people thinking along the same lines as you, while also getting a degree. And, if music just doesn't work out, ANY degree can still open a lot of doors for you.
Greg, that must have been in '75 when "Biff" Phillips took second.
Yep, just a few decades ago.
as frustrating as it is, having been in your situation up until just recently, i have come to realize it is a bit unrealistic, that is being a musician for a livig (especially getting a sponsorship). I too am 16, practice alot and love playing and have one the of the best teachers that there is. being a musician for a living would be great. but even in the mandolin community how many mandolin players are out there we listen to? there are just soo many of us who are quite talented and we already know their names...
Sponcerships are pretty rare in Bluegrass music. The only significant ones that I can think of are Rhonda's deal with Martha White, Pine Mtn Railroad with Tennesse Pride sausage, and The Grascals with that southern frozen food company. The string deals usually only supply you with strings and the instrument endorsements aren't big money makers either. There are a lot of dues to be paid before even thinking about earning a modest living in BG music.
There are a lot of dues to be paid before even thinking about earning a modest living in BG music.
Oh come on, there´s tens of dollars to be made playing Bluegrass! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif
I'd say if you're still learning it's a bit early to be thinking about endorsements or corporate sponsorship. On the other hand, there are scholarships available, including to Steve Kaufman's Mandolin Kamp in Maryville, TN: http://duscholar.home.mchsi.com/ (it's still the 2007 application form on the site at the moment but they award scholarships every year).
On midsummer's eve, go to a river,#and wait on a rock out in the middle of the rapids. At midnight, your "sponsor" may appear, and from then on out, your desires for free stuff, groupies, and sharp gunslinger threads (and rep) will be granted. #(Well that's the Scandavian variant of the scenario.)
But, since you're in Alabama, I guess you'll have to wait at the crossroads at midnight, in the old-fashioned bluesman tradition. Your "sponsor" may even encourage you to keep using your old handle (mandopickin4Him) because it appeals to to his funny bone and sulphuric sense of irony. #Take the deal and you'll be playing more gigs in 2008 than you'd ever imagine, doing all those big rallies and meeting many of your fellow "club inductees"! (and not just the ones plunking on instruments either!!)
But if you want to debate the issue with yourself, you may want to review these. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins)
I've been playing for a long time now and I'm just about to the point where I can walk into the supermarket and get what I need based on my good looks.
Yodel-deedle ay-hee, you oughta see my car
I drive a big old Camry with wire wheels, got rhinestones on the spokes
I got credit down at the grocery store
And my barber tells me jokes
I’m the number one attraction in every supermarket parkin’ lot
I’m the king of Kansas City, no thanks, Omaha, thanks a lot
-- Roger Miller, Kansas City Star (some slight anonymous alterations to lyrics...)
What are you asking us for? We don't have sponsorships.
If they want you, they'll come find you. Until then, work, work, work.
The most common form of sponsorship in bluegrass music consists of having an understanding wife with a good job and family health benefits. Start looking!
I'd like to stay away from religion and avoid accusing anyone of sin(s), so I'll start with the assumptions that neither is there a law against asking for something like an "endorsement deal", nor is there any law prohibiting anyone from actually getting one. However, there are some unintended implications and consequences which I don't think Pickin4.. has thought about. Where to start? Have you thought about what your request implies to a luthier? Among other things, it says that you would like to have one of his/her instruments, but you don't want to pay the luthier what the instrument is worth, or even what it costs him/her to make it. If a luthier makes say, a dozen mandolins in a year, then the cost of one mandolin is a significant chunk of his/her income. Six to ten percent of gross is just too much to throw away on something with no promise of any return, not to mention that an "endorsement deal" typically lasts only three years. I wish that I had a nickel for every such request I have gotten. Typically some young player e-mails and says something like "I'd love to play one of your mandolins; can some sort of deal be worked out?" One time, I got an e-mail from someone identifying himself as a mandolin player in a church band, saying that he didn't have much money, and could I make him an F-style mandolin for about $250? Does kinda make one wonder whatinell they are bothering to learn in their respective churches.
At the recent IBMA tradeshow, a young player came to my booth and asked if I did "endorsement deals". He had a mandolin made by a rather well-known guitarmaker, and claimed that the three years on his endorsement deal with that maker was almost up. So my question was, if the mandolin was good enough to endorse, why didn't he want to keep playing it? He did own up to the fact that he liked that mandolin. Over dinner conversations with other luthiers at the show, I found that he had come to them with the same song and dance. So another unintended consequence of your request is that luthiers are taking you pretty lightly. Doesn't help one's chances any, does it?
For a larger manufacturer, the situation is somewhat different, but not entirely so. Putting a mandolin in the hands of a well-known player can be looked at as part of the cost of doing business. Still, the manufacturers want aome kind of return. They give mandolins to well known players with the understanding that the mandolins will be seen by large numbers of festivalgoers, spectators, etc. The key phrase there is "well-known". So the Jimmy Gaudreaus and Adam Steffeys and Don Stiernbergs, etc., get a mandolin, but you won't find any given to the average teenager who has just worked his way into the advanced level.
For the individual luthier as for the larger manufacturer, an "endorsement deal" with someone who is not extremely well-known carries little if any promise of return. I don't do "endorsement deals". I don't personally know any other individual luthiers that do them. If a luthier were to do an "endorsement deal, it would only spread the expectation that other luthiers should do them as well. So I would discourage luthiers from thinking about it. Now, if the agreement were to carry some contractual promise of a tangible return, that would be different. But I haven't seen any such promises in my travels.
Thanks. I understand what you're all saying. Thanks for the advice. I'll keep practicing. Someone told me the other day that I'm nearly as good as seirra hull. I'm just looking to get started out good in the music bissunes.
So far all Ive heard is mandolin. How much stage experience you have ? you know how to work a mike both vocaly and instrumentally.? Can you play with others and play in the key of the singers? Sure a lot more to it than just playin a mondo good !http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif
I hate to always be the wet blanket...but do your mom and dad know you're on the internet asking for free stuff? All I can say is, if someone PM's you telling you how you can get a free mandolin, IT'S A SCAM. Be careful out there son
play some contests and see where you stack up in those. have any recordings we can hear?
I don't mean to sound paranoid but the ages of our younger posters probably should not have mentioned. Whether everyone wants to accept it or not there are predators that even take a look at the Mandolin Cafe from time to time. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif
While there are no rules about posting one's age, I agree it is advisable not to publish it in a place that's not as private as it may appear. However, everyone, esp. the teens who posted in this thread, if you get messages that sound to good to be true, or even plausable, work with your folks on replying or dealing with them.
I don't know much (if anything) about the world of professional mandolin playing, but I do know a good bit about the world of professional bass fishing. I was not a full-time pro but I did have sponsors that I worked very hard for. I was often asked "how can I get a sponsor?", and this question usually was followed by the person telling me what tournament they won, or how big of a fish they caught, or generally how good they were. I would explain that sponsors weren't nearly as interested in how good you are, but in what you can do for them, but it usually went in one ear and out another. While I was a competent fisherman, there was certainly others who were better than me. How did I get sponsored? I volunteered to work at boat shows, promotional events, charity events, whatever they would let me work. I became well-known primarily because folks got used to seeing me around, and knew my reputation for being a hard worker. My sponsors typically approached me to come work for them, because they knew I would work hard for them. Not once did they ask how many tournaments I won! The guys who came to them asking for something ("What's in it for me?") and bragging about their accomplishments, rarely got anything but a few polite head nods.
Be humble, be patient, and work hard. If it's meant to happen, it will happen.
Well I don't know about bass fishing, but if you can grab first place at Winfield, it's a pretty big deal in the bluegrass world....AND it will also get you a free mandolin!
Hey, i think it took guts (the good kind) to ask the question.
And answers you'll get. But nobody ever made a nickel playing music. You make money by selling CDs or selling tickets. Simple. Make a CD. If you can sell it, sell two. Sell three and scale up.
Or if you can attract people to see you play, do it.
Keep it simple, and learn as you go.
Keep playin', keep gettin' noticed, and keep your dreams alive, it'll all come together when it's time.
Go for it kid! My son has the same ambition. But he's keeping his butt in school. If it's up to me, he'll be a doctor. I still want a 24 Loar.
Well I don't know about bass fishing, but if you can grab first place at Winfield, it's a pretty big deal in the bluegrass world....AND it will also get you a free mandolin!
Winning a major bass tournament can get you a free boat, but that's still not the same as getting sponsors. #:-) I'm sure winning Winfield would go a long way toward one's goals though, no doubt. Best of luck to you, mandopickin4Him. I wish I started playing mando at your age.
It's good to see young people asking for advice. Added up there is hundreds of years of experience behind all these posts. I help out at a storefront mission in the inner city.
There are a lot of really good guitarists who come through the door. Most have had their lives mesed up with drugs and/or alcohol. There is a lot of temptation in the night life of the music world. So have fun but know when to walk away. When you've been playing to a crowd for 3 or 4 hours its easy to stay up & want to party and hard to just turn the switch off & go home & go to bed. Set your standards & priorities & stick by them. Nobody sets out to be an alchoholic or a drug addict. It happens one little slip at a time. And nobody sponsors a player with a bad rep. Temptation is a sneaky lying lover, but she knows how to make herself look good. 3 John 2 [I]
Now that's good advice pseudo! In my humble opinion, if this young man's screen name reflects his true feelings(and I'm not doubting that it does)I'd have to say he already have an outstanding sponsor.
has...has an outstanding sponsor
It's not what you know, it's who you know http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif
I'll keep it up and keep practicing. I'm not planning on quitting school though! I am planning on going to contests next year when there are some around here. I've played with Gary Waldrep before and Southern Heart before. Both were hour sets. I can't record, our computer is slower than christmas. I live up to my name, as best I can. Thanks for all of the advice. I'll try to get a C.D. here in a year or so. I really appreciate everything.:D
Sponsorship deals are something I do know a bit about. Before you are likely to get an endorsement deal (this usually means an instrument at a discount, and not likely a free one...and there is no cash for playing their instruments) you will have to pay your dues and earn a name that people will flock to. Builders don't really care if you are better than Sierra Hull (and I would be careful about making such claims on a public fourm), what they care about is will you sell product for them. Sam Bush can get a free mandolin because his name and reputation are so worldwide that the company realizes they will sell product becuase of that affiliation. Gibson only has 2 mandolin endorsed artists at this time and only two banjo endorsers. Others may get an artist accomadation, but they don't get free product or payment for endorsing the mandolin.
Your best course of action is to play often, learn all you can, get a good education, and jam with as many as you can. When you are old enough and have obtained your education, then you may want to move where the action is for pickers. Once you arrive, you will be quickly blown away. Nashville is a city where EVERYONE plays better than EVERYONE else.
It takes more than just being able to pick. You have to have a ton of determination and decide to do all you can to promote your career...but never on the back of another. Become the best YOU that you can and then see what happens. If it does, great. If not, there are many things you can become that are every bit as good and exciting as being a pro mandolin player. They all have their place.
It's not what you know, it's who you know
Actually, it's who know, presuming that you have the goods to deliver.
Also, key components for success include being reliable and dependable, responsible, easy to get along with on the road and in rehearsal. Don't take any of that lightly.
Hey Joe and Mandopickin4him. I am in Birmingham and own a coffeeshop/cafe that has live music. If you are really interested in playing live, let me know. We have bluegrass pretty regularly and I love to give young guys a chance to play in public. Glen Tolbert is playing here Friday night and Jason Bailey next Thursday. I'm in 411. Java & Jams.
Short story.....I was watching a dance rehearsal the other night. In one of the other studio rooms there was this amazing piano music coming through the closed door. I usually don't have an ear for jazz, but the virtuosity, depth and maturity of the music was just astounding. Since I was in the Juliard school, I just sat there and thought WOW, what are they teaching these kids!!
The door opened and out walked a middle age gentleman. I then thought to myself...well that makes sense. There's alot more to musical expression than anyone can cram into a short existance on this planet. I was experiencing someone in a relaxed environment expressing decades of musical exploration and it was very overwhelming.
My point is, don't be in such a rush to be the best...the journey can be a long one.
Soap box off http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
See if you can find a copy of a book written by Tommy Tedesco called "For guitar players only." It was published by Dale Zdenek Publications in 1979.
Tommy was a professional studio guitar player and that book is filled with good real-world advice for anyone who thinks they want to be a professional guitar player (but all the advice is valid for mandolin players or any others who might be dreaming of making a living playing music in an environment other than concert orchestras).
For you young mandolin players I can say that winning some contests will get you a really great start. Not winning contests will probably do more for you in the long run. There are a lot of people out there making a living playing music who are not the best at what they do. Hard work is probably the most important thing.
It would also help if you really like peanut butter sandwiches and macaroni and cheese!
The best time to chase your dream is when you are young, before you have anyone else depending on you to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
Go for it! Or wait 30 years and wish you had.
Nashville is a city where EVERYONE plays better than EVERYONE else. #
Reminds me of that song by the Lovin' Spoonful...
Well, there's thirteen hundred and fifty two guitar pickers in Nashville
And they can pick more notes than the number of ants on a Tennessee anthill
Yeah, there's thirteen hundred and fifty two guitar cases in Nashville
And any one that unpacks his guitar could play twice as better than I will
Joe - your comments are right on the money (as usual).