A word about money
Here is the scoop on how to support us and where we can get money from.
We don’t put anything on sale until it feels like something we’d be happy to buy. That means paying for a good mix (sometimes), paying any remixers (we don’t ask for spec work and we pay everyone, even if it’s not always as much as we’d like), paying for mastering, designing a cover and paying for any artwork needed (yes design and artwork can be two different things).
Those costs are release-specific – we have other costs, including a laughably small salary, maintaining a small studio, logo designers, web design themes, video directors, photographers, and all the usual office stuff. Where we can afford it, we also pay somebody to spend time getting a release to DJs, blogs and journalists, and in some of those cases we have CD promos pressed.
Add all that together and the reality is that if you are listening to a finished, properly released thing on a Pink Lizard Music label it has probably cost between £200 and £2000 to get to you. Even a single track might need £350 to mix and £100+ to master, before we even get into artwork & promo. (If you are curious you can email me and I will send you an example cost breakdown for an anonymised release.)
There’s a bit of a myth that’s been created about the ‘democratisation of music making’ that says that you can do everything yourself now. You can, but it doesn’t end up as good, because you only really know what you’re doing when it comes to making the music – you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to mastering it, packaging it and marketing it.
Those three skills are real. We’ve watched them transform music that’s literally taken years to produce into finalised, great things (I don’t really like calling them ‘products’) that we’d actually want to own, marketed by people who can get them heard by a few big names that will help push the music to a wider audience.
So, anything you can give us will help recoup that outlay – and *then* fill the pockets of the artists – plus, help us to put out the next record more quickly in the formats (and with the art) it deserves.
So, how much of your payment gets to the artist?
The answer is, at least 50% of what arrives at Pink Lizard Music’s bank account, after costs are recouped. No, we are not like a major label – we only spend money on the artist’s behalf if they have approved that spend. Our purpose is to help unique independent artists up a level, not to hold them back by crappy creative accounting scams or load them up with debt.
So, what arrives at our bank account is between 48 and 95 per cent of what you pay (this figure will change to between 48 and 78% if we register for VAT). The rest goes to payment processing, store percentages, and (if applicable) distributor percentages.
If you are concerned to see that the biggest possible chunk of your money comes back to artists and the label, then name your price at the PLM Store. We pay a small percentage to Gumroad who handle the payments and fulfilment. Ignoring currency conversion costs – which are real and a massive pain in the ass until Gumroad sorts out local payments – if you pay us £1, we’ll get roughly 77p; £4, around £3.60; £10, around £9.30.
You can also do the same at Bandcamp. PayPal fees are the usual and Bandcamp takes 15%, so £1 → 62p, £4 → £3.64, £10 → £7.96.
However, we don’t exist in isolation – yes it’s great if you buy direct from us, but where would we be without the stores?
First of all, if our music is on a legal service, we want it there and we are fully aware of and happy with the financial arrangement that has been made. Full support to the stores taking their reasonable cut from your payment.
Secondly, stores do more for music sales than we ever could by ourselves. For example, our distributor just sent ‘Feels Like’ by Pablo to Traxsource and they responded by giving us feature banners, listing us in their essentials charts and emailing us to ask for more sales material. Those guys earn their money by selling our music – they absolutely deserve the cut they take. They are nowhere without selling music, and neither are we.
All I am saying is if your favourite place to buy is iTunes or Juno, use them – or any other store. They’ll take a cut and return the rest to our distributor, who takes their cut and returns the rest to us. Everybody in this chain earns their money and we are happy to see them get it.
However, buying downloads is only one way you can help us (the artists and the company). There are loads of other ways you can support if you want to. Come to our parties and make a donation. Buy a piece of vinyl or a CD. Let us know if you want a subscription service or something like Patreon, and we’ll set it up.
Also, this: put our tracks in playlists on your preferred streaming service.
Note that there’s a lot of BS around about streaming and royalty rates. Our artists’ royalty rates apply across the board, we don’t pay them a lesser % for streaming. And we also like streaming services that pay per-play, like Spotify and TIDAL – if you want to do us a favour, stream there instead of Soundcloud (which pays nothing) and YouTube (which we are gonna need multiple *thousands* of plays on to earn one pound).
What we LOVE about streaming is that on a rough estimation, 10-20 times more people will hear our music via paid streaming than via paid download. That is extremely significant and helpful in spreading our music further than it could go by restricting it to paid downloads, specific sites, or physical release only. We believe in providing access to music regardless of a listener’s status or wealth.
To be honest the only thing stopping us enabling free download at Soundcloud is that we don’t believe Soundcloud should benefit from our music any more, having built its entire service on the labours of music and audio creators without ever attempting to return a penny to us by (for example) getting licensed through PRS and PPL.
One way you can do us a *massive* favour is by getting your favourite radio or TV station to play our music. We can probably collect royalties from PRS and PPL (or their equivalents outside the UK) if that happens, as well as getting more people to hear it.
Plus of course we’d LOVE to talk about getting Pink Lizard Music releases into games, TV, film and even commercials (some of our artists are fine with that) – because those are the kind of opportunities that can help fund an artist’s tour, or their next album, or a great video.
the most important thing to us is that the music gets out there. We are always happy for you to name your own price as zero,* because there have been, and continue to be, many times in our lives that we’ve had terrible financial difficulties. And please, spread it to others you think will like it, because that will help.
*Or the minimum – this is a partnership with artists and it’s ultimately their money too, so we always take their views into account when setting prices. This especially relates to releases on Rouge Reptile, because they are back catalogue albums that artists have signed to us for reissue – so usually the artist has already paid all the costs of production themselves.