If you are truly a record company in your own right, then
this is the deal for you. It gives you the most autonomy and
control of your life, as well as the highest profit margin.
Pressing & Distribution (P&D) Agreement is exactly that--the
record company agrees to manufacture your records for you
(although in some situations this isn't even so; the product
is manufactured elsewhere), and then to distribute them solely
as a wholesaler. This means you sell the records to the distributing
entity for a wholesale price less a negotiated distribution
fee to help cover the distributing company's overhead, operations
and profit. The distribution fee ranges in the 18%-25% range
(less, if you're a big label), and the balance of the monies
is paid to the production entity.
example: If a cassette wholesales for $5.00, under a deal
with a 25% distribution fee, the production entity gets $3.75
per cassette ($5.00 less 25%). Out of this, the production
entity pays manufacturing, mechanicals, artist royalties,
promotion, overhead, salaries, and everything else.
arrangement is not for the weak-hearted:
- In these deals, the entire risk of manufacturing falls
on the production entity. Remember how records are sold
on a returnable basis? This means that, if you guess wrong,
the returns come back home to roost. So not only are you
losing your potential profit on the sale, but you're also
coming out of pocket and losing the cost of manufacturing
and shipping a record you can't sell (although they make
passable doorstops). Many deals also require you to pay
a distribution fee even if the record is returned, adding
insult to injury.
- The distributing company typically offers no services
whatsoever in terms of marketing, promotion, accounting,
etc. You really are on your own.
- You may well be treated as a second-class citizen. This
is because the distributing company will favor its own product
over yours--they make a bigger profit on their own stuff,
and they have a bigger investment in it.
types of deals can be made at the highest level (for example,
A&M Records was distributed by BMG under such an arrangement
for many years), and the true independent record companies
make these deals with independent distributors.
deals can also be made at a more modest level by anyone insane
enough to want to try or desperate enough to get their records
out even when no one else wants to pay for the privilege.
However, unless you're a real record company, with a full
staff, I strongly recommend against this type of deal.