It Started in a Garage: Launched in a small garage in 1998, CD Baby started as a website for independent artists to sell their CDs online. Over the past 17 years, expanding exponentially with the growth of digital music consumption, it has evolved into the world’s largest online distributor of indie music, providing a “home” for more than 400,000 artists (in a whopping 850 musical genres) and a catalog of nearly six million songs.
Allowing consumers to buy directly from its artists, CD Baby has provided a groundbreaking way for artists to bypass the major labels. The company has paid out over $400 million to its artists.
“We’re all doing the same things that our artists do. We make a special connection to our clients because we are clients of CD Baby ourselves.”
Dynamic Expansion of Services: From its humble beginnings as a retail site where consumers could buy CDs and later digital downloads, CD Baby— which still sells CDs and vinyl—has added an expansive digital distribution system that distributes its artists’ music to dozens of stores such as iTunes and Amazon, as well as various streaming services (including Spotify, Rdio and Apple Music).
The company has tools to help artists sell directly to fans via a CD Baby widget that can be embedded on their websites and social media pages. Run by a staff comprised of approximately 50% active recording artists, it is now owned by the same company that runs the CD/DVD manufacturing company Disc Makers. VP of Marketing Kevin Breuner says, “We’re all doing the same things that our artists do. We make a special connection to our clients because we are clients of CD Baby ourselves.”
One Stop Shop For Monetizing Music: Monetization services also include synchronization licenses for YouTube, film/TV, commercials and games. CD Baby puts its artists’ songs in a database that can be searched by music supervisors. Artists can also register songs with YouTube to sell ads against their videos, allowing them to receive a share of ad revenue. The company has paid out over $5 million in YouTube and sync royalties to its artists this past year, and that number is exploding.