Friday, May 17, 2024
Friday, May 17, 2024

CD Baby – Music Distribution Buyer’s Guide

About CD Baby Music Distribution

Visit CD Baby:

CD Baby was the first music distribution company. They’re owned by music industry powerhouse Downtown Music Holdings which also owns Songtrust, Downtown Music Publishing, and Soundrop. They’ve been around forever and have consistently been the most artist-friendly distributor you’ll find on the market.

When music streaming first became a thing, due to the low royalty payouts, CD Baby forfeited their 9% fee on streams. It wasn’t until streaming started generating significant revenue and cannibalized sales that the policy changed. Ever since the days of Derek Sivers, it’s been a company with heart that’s cared a great deal about the interests of indie artists.

CD Baby has Direct deals with digital service providers so the percentage of revenue they say you get to keep, is what you actually get to keep. They’re also routinely highlighted as a preferred partner by DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music. I’ve been with CD Baby since 2005 and I can’t say I’ve ever had a problem.

The reason to choose CD Baby is peace of mind. It’s the best option if you want to pay once and keep your music in stores forever. There are lots of other reasons but this is the core reason. I had a client that found himself in a medically induced coma for months. He had unlimited distribution paying an annual fee, but due to being in a coma, his card didn’t have a balance and couldn’t be charged and his releases were removed. Coming out of a coma, the last thing on your mind is paying for digital distribution. This might be an extreme example, but it’s real.

In addition to music distribution, CD Baby also provides Sync Licensing through their partnership with Rubble Fish. Your music can be featured in movies and tv shows on HBO, Netflix, Amazon, and more. The Sync Licensing service comes bundled with the music distribution service. Publishing administration is offered as well, though through a sister service called CD Baby Pro.

The only real drawback I have for using CD Baby is their 9% fee because it gets more punitive as your revenue grows. However, you can justify the fee if the level of service increases with the amount the fee grows to represent. Understanding this, CD Baby created Stages which is a host of services that increase as an artist grows.

Essentials Stage

  • Global distribution to the world’s top music platforms
  • Social video monetization on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook
  • Sync licensing
  • Analytics and weekly payments
  • CD and vinyl manufacturing and fulfillment
  • Free music-promo tools

Plus Stage

  • Free Submissions
  • Expedited service, inspection, and delivery to DSPs
  • Playlisting on CD Baby-owned playlists
  • First access to new DSP features
  • Applying for verification on Instagram and TikTok
  • The opportunity to utilize’s state of the art MAP (Managed Ads Program) service.

Label Services Stage

  • Editorial pitching for new releases
  • Fast-tracked Pandora approval
  • Video delivery to Apple
  • Automatically generated smart links through
Price$10 One-Time Fee
Same price for singles and albums
PercentageKeep 91%
Release DateYes
Transaction FeesNone for Direct Bank Transfer
2.9% of what you withdraw through Paypal – uncapped so there’s no limit to how much you’ll pay.
Payment Threshold $10
Youtube Content IDYes
Keep 70%
WhitelistingClaim disputes
CD Baby will claim your Youtube videos and if you don’t want them to, you must dispute the claim with Youtube to have CD Baby release the claim.
Split PayNo
UPC comes with the ability to bring your own & are usable for physical product. CD Baby allows you to print actual UPC barcodes for usage on CDs.
No fee
Cancelation/Non-paymentDoesn’t apply. Release stays in stores forever.
Sync Licensing Yes
TaxesSubject to 30% tax withholding
Red FlagsNone


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