Pressing and distribution deals

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Thursday November 30, 2006
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Many bands and artists have considered releasing their own CD but don't know how to go about it. But you don't have to do it all alone - there is a route that isn't often heard of, but can lead to success and profit.

It would of course be ideal if you could get signed to a record label. They would market your music and use a distribution company to deliver CDs to record stores. Most labels work like this and only the biggest labels handle their own distribution. In fact, the original definition of an 'indy' label was one that didn't do it's own distribution, but that's really way back in history now.

But if you don't have a deal with a label, you could fulfill the label's role yourself and get a distribution company to do the rest. In fact, you can even get them to finance the whole thing, if you're lucky.

This is known as a 'pressing and distribution' deal. Typically the distributor will pay out the upfront costs of CD production and manufacturing, usually not including studio time but possibly including mastering. A quantity of CDs will be pressed and distributed for sale. Some copies will be used for promotional purposes. The distributor may already have links with radio stations, presenters and DJs, so they might handle this.

As the CDs start to sell, the distributor will retain all the profits up to the point where the manufacturing costs have been paid back. From there, the subsequent profit is divided between the distributor and you. A 50/50 split is common. If the distributor wants more, then you would have to be confident that they were going to do an extraordinarily good job. It will be your responsibility as band or artist to promote and market the CD.

P&D (pressing and distribution) deals can work very well for small quantities of product, from 1000 copies upwards. Of course, you will have to have a track record of success already otherwise the distributor will not have the confidence to invest in you. But if you are performing and attracting interest, that could be just a matter of time.

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