As I have progressed through my career, and as you shall do too, you must be as aware as possible of the image you are creating for yourself, and the kinds of product endorsements you may, or may not want to be a part of. Over the years, I have always been aware of the importance of spreading myself “thin”, in terms of how many various places I could be found in. For example, when I started Hot Licks, it was very important to me that once I started signing other artists, I was just another artist in the catalog. It was important to me and my image, and the image of hot Licks, that it not be billed as “Arlen Roth presents..”, but rather, that I would be paid the higher compliment and respect of simply being “one of the crowd” of respected players I was documenting. So if you’d see an ad with Steve Morse, John Entwistle, Tal Farlow and others, I’d be just one of them all, giving a proper balance to the entire image. I always figured that folks would find out soon enough about who really owned the company, and who was bringing this material to them, namely me, but I just didn’t want to rush it.
The same went for my writing career. I did my first three books for Music Sales when I was really just a kid, but after a long hiatus from writing books, I then published works on several different imprints such as Doubleday, MacMillan, Ballantine and Warner Brothers, thus giving more variety and depth to my career, as opposed to always being thought of as a “self-publisher”, or an entrepreneur. This has also been true of my recordings as well, and even the artists I have toured with, as I keep moving around in those quarters as well, though it’s not as advantageous to be “spread thin” in those areas!
The endorsement part can also be very tricky. It’s very tempting to get excited when people start throwing guitars and other equipment at you, but you’ll find after awhile, that you’ll really want to be associated with the instruments you are truly happy playing. These days, I only care about endorsing the products I feel good about, and whose image really helps me by association. If you get any ads with a company making guitars or whatever for you, also make sure that they mention your latest releases or other artistic endeavors by you in their ads. This “cross-promotion” is very important in terms of the kind of image you want to project, and most of all, who you wish to be associated with.
So, in the end, I know it’s hard at first, but try to be careful about the image you wish to project, and of course, the products you get associated with. These decisions can really have a long-range effect, and can last a long time in the memories of those out there who you may consider to be fans one day!