The following are most of the options available WHEN a musician gets the industry's attention. The musician then needs to impress the music industry with his/her creative talents. The reward for building a successful career is the possibility of doing business with a major label someday. Major labels need to work with creative talents to maintain their viability in a ever-changing popular music environment.
The following short summaries of the most common kinds of indie/major deals are given as an introduction to them.
Pressing and Distribution ("P&D") Deals: The name of this deal describes its basic premise. The indie label finances the recording process and delivers the final master recording to a major label distribution company, which then presses (i.e., manufactures) the records and distributes those records to sub-distributors, retailers, etc. In the case of P&D deals, as in the case of the next three distribution-oriented deals discussed below, the independent label will retain all ownership rights in the master recordings.
"Distribution Only" Deals: Basically the same as the "P&D" deal described above, except that here it is the indie label, not the major label that presses the records. The major label's role is "distribution only."
Fulfillment Deals: Again, basically the same as the "P&D" deal described above, except that here the records are not distributed through the major label's traditional distribution system, but instead through an ostensibly "independent distributor" that is owned by the major label. This "independent distributor," acting on behalf of the indie label, then ships such records as are ordered by indie sub-distributors and indie record stores, and it also handles all billing responsibilities. In short, the "independent distributor's" role here is to fulfill orders from third parties for the independent label's records.
"Piggyback" Deals: Used when an indie label doesn't have the clout...