How do I not be an obnoxious album funder?
December 22, 2010 7:08 PM   Subscribe

I've offered to help fund the pressing of a local musician's new album. Help me not to be an arse about it.

Musician has recorded his fourth album. First two were home recordings on CD-R that had tiny releases on CD-R. Third album was professionally produced, and sold well locally.

I've offered to pay for half of the pressing costs, about $1000. Ideal situation is that I eventually get my money back as the album sells. Adequate situation is that if I get abut half back, I'll be happy enough. I could manage if I got nothing back, but I think I'd be slightly miffed if this happened. I'm not looking for a profit, and I'm not wanting to have any input on the record's content/design.

Would having some kind of written contract be worthwhile? I'd like to be able to have something that at least documents what we're doing, but equally, I don't want to be too officious. So if someone were to help with the funding of your album, what would be an awesome way to go about it?
posted by scruss to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
I know Ellis has used arrangements like this for at least one of her albums - I would recommend dropping her (or, realistically, her manager - Ellis is adorable but Terri is the one who handles most of the business) a line to see if they could give you any info. She had a deal where multiple people could sign up to fund the album, but I can't remember nor can I find the page with the details of the investment structure.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:25 PM on December 22, 2010

Why not just a reasonable amount per CD sold, like $1.00 until you were paid in full. That'd be easy enough to put in writing, and also seems like it'd be easy enough on the band.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:23 PM on December 22, 2010

Do you want to get paid?

If so, you want to have a written agreement.

Make sure that you both understand exactly what it says.
posted by schmod at 9:40 PM on December 22, 2010

I also suggest putting yourself in the sales position. If you think it's a good record, get it out there to clothing stores, etc. Restock the local record stores. Do whatever footwork it takes to sell a lot of CDs.
posted by Duffington at 9:45 PM on December 22, 2010

You should definitely put something in writing. You're putting up $1000! A write up of your expectations is nowhere near officious.

As to pricing structure, perhaps you could ask the artist what % of the sales they could kickback to getting you paid off, with a tiered structure (i.e. after you've recovered $500, you get a smaller %; likewise when you cross $1000).
posted by milestogo at 12:00 AM on December 23, 2010

In the sphere I deal in, the band, label, and other interested parties are usually paid in copies of the album. Under this scheme, if you paid for half the pressing, you would get half the pressing, after some number of copies has been subtracted for the band.

The down-side is that it's then up to you to sell or trade your copies of the record, which can be a hassle... but the up-side is that it's then up to you to sell/trade your copies of the record, which means that the profits along with any failures, rip-offs, and/or losses are your own. This gives you your money's worth up-front, and that (hopefully) minimizes drama down the road.

If you're interested in doing it this way, you might figure out what you'd charge buyers for each copy of the record, subtract bubble mailer/jewel-case/etc costs and the pressing-cost-per-unit, and divide that into $1000 to get a rough idea of how many copies you could ask for. Be sure to pad your numbers a bit -- CDs and especially vinyl are easily damaged, so it's wise to have a few extras.
posted by vorfeed at 1:02 AM on December 23, 2010

Best answer: A few thoughts:
  • I doubt the OP wants to work his/her arse off selling the record.
  • Are there any other cash investors outside the band?
  • Definitely have a written agreement.
  • This agreement might include some kind of sales report at 3 months, 6 month and a year from release. Report every 6 months until the debt is paid.
  • The agreement should also state that the lender has no ownership rights in the recording
  • The agreement would be structured differently depending on whether the lender just wants to be paid back the $1000, or share in the profit from this and any future pressings. (Sounds like the former.) In that case (as the band) I'd put the lender at the front of the payback list and pay them back ASAP from the first $ earned.
If it's a CD, the band should consider making *fewer* copies of the release at first to drive the initial manufacturing costs down.
posted by omnidrew at 8:03 AM on December 23, 2010

If it's a CD, the band should consider making *fewer* copies of the release at first to drive the initial manufacturing costs down.

There's a point at which that's a false economy, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:37 AM on December 23, 2010

Sidhedevil - it depends on the packaging... details which we don't know.

I just think it's unnecessary to fill one's garage with pallets of excess CDs these days.
posted by omnidrew at 9:29 PM on December 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks. It's not going to be a CD, but a boutique vinyl pressing, so the initial run economics are different. I'm not interested in having copies to sell, and don't want ownership rights.
posted by scruss at 10:15 AM on January 23, 2011

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