Perhaps back in the days of Buddy and Gene, but those days are gone. “Unfortunately in this day and age it has to be a contract,” Farriss says. “We know what we have to offer the artist: product and worldwide service, and sometimes advertisements. To safeguard ourselves, and to make sure everybody has a clear understanding, we use a contract that says we can use the artist’s name and likeness in advertisements or other promotion of our products.”
But it’s love, not the lawyers, that makes it all work. If the artist doesn’t like the drums, or doesn’t like how he’s being treated, the deal will fail. Farriss adds this important point: “Is it a binding contract? No, because we wouldn’t want to hold onto a guy that isn’t happy with the product. He’s not going to be a good representative. They are our representatives in the field. No one knows who Mike Farriss is, but most all know who Chad Smith is, or Morgan Rose, or Joey Jordison.”
Boos puts it simply. “Basically, a person sending a package is applying for a job as a Sabian ambassador. There’s no point in sending a package to the Endorsement Department. Please! At least learn my name! Send it to a real person at a real address. Send a letter, send a package. Make it clear and concise. ’This is so-and-so, trained in such-and-such, his goal is to teach, perform,’ whatever. Include a demo, three songs, not too much, keep it good. I don’t have time to read a giant pile of papers.”
Farriss agrees, “We’re looking for professional packages, which normally include a band photo, band bio, and a personal bio and personal photo so we know what the drummer looks like and a bit about his history. We look for the latest recorded material, too. There are some great drummers that are not with a band, but they are exceptions to the rule. Usually we look for the drummers in bands, and for the organizations behind the band: the record company, management company — professional backing that indicates the band is ready to take off.”
So in other words, they will check your references. Farriss adds, “If there’s someone [in the industry] who likes your band and can be a reference, include them. There are probably only a dozen of us in the U.S. doing this job [of artist relations], and we talk to each other. It’s a small world, this musical instrument industry. Then it’s just a phone call for us, and we can ask, ’Hey, what’s going on with this person?’ We also get a lot of recommendations from other artists. Keith Harris of Black Eyed Peas is one of the finest players I’ve ever seen, and he recommended someone to us. Well, that’s a pretty big deal, coming from Keith. So I just asked, ’What do you need?’”
That’s what we’ve been hoping they’d ask from the beginning.