Are you an independent band or artist? If so, you probably already know how difficult and expensive it can be to get exposure for your music. There are many music distributors who can help you to get your music out there – but which one is right for you? When it comes to finding a company to distribute your music, there is a lot to consider. CD Baby is a great choice for bands who want to get their music played to potential fans. In this article, we will look at the platform. Including pricing, a review of its services, and comparisons to its top competitors.
CD Baby is an online distributor of independent music, and the company refers to itself as the ‘anti-label’ for musicians. Known as one of the best online record stores, it is the only digital aggregator that has top preferred partner status with Spotify and Apple Music. The platform has a library of more than 650,000 artists across a wide variety of genres, and 9 million tracks that are made available to over 100 digital streaming services and platforms around the globe.
What makes CD Baby stand out amongst other distributors is that they can help artists through additional services such as publishing administration, CD & vinyl distribution. What also makes them more beneficial in comparison to alternative platforms is the one-time fees per release with no recurring costs. This makes it better for artists to get their songs registered with royalty-collecting societies via the platform.
The platform offers a range of services including:
CD Baby aims to deliver you music to everywhere that is important to get your career off the ground. They will distribute your songs to the most popular digital music platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora Radio, and 150+ other streaming services. The benefit of using this distributor is that you don’t have to pay an annual fee in order to keep your music online. Distribution to download and various streaming services comes included in all Standard and Pro packages.
If you are a songwriter and have original music without a publishing administrator, you are likely to lose money. CD Baby helps you to secure all the royalties you are due.
They will make sure that:
To get your music noticed and ensure that people buy or stream your music in large numbers, promotion is key! Just because your music is available, it doesn’t mean that it will be influential straight away. If you sell your music through distributors, you will have to be quite proactive in promoting your releases in order to make sure that people are able to find them. With such a huge catalogue, it can be difficult to get spotted. With that being said, CD Baby provides promotional tools in order for your music to get the attention it deserves. Listeners still need to be able to come across your songs and connect to them.
You can also manufacture and duplicate CDs with CD Baby!
In terms of packaging and manufacturing, there is a range of options from jewel cases to jackets for your CD’s. Their services include mastering, design and distribution – so everything is covered in one place!
The Duplication service offers a Mega Distribution Bundle, including digital and physical distribution, which is additional to the Duplication manufacturing services.
Notable artists releasing their music via CD Baby include Ingrid Michaelson, who has used CD Baby for digital distribution for every release. Others include Twenty One Pilots, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Bon Iver, and Sarah Barreilles. All you need to do is sign up for a free account, upload music and include your artist information, get your music out there, and you will get paid weekly! To get noticed, CD baby recommends Bandzoogle to create a stunning band website and store in minutes. Alternatively, you can create a one-page promo with Hearnow and your information will be imported directly from CD Baby.
CD Baby announced in February 2020 that it is shutting down its retail store, although it will continue to distribute physical products through other channels. The company stresses that it will continue to distribute physical products — just not at its own store.
The platform offers a dedicated support system via their artist help centre. Artists will find tons of information on how to get started, as well as be able to submit any requests they may have. There are various sections of their help centre, including artist resources and advice, social video monetisation, help with Sync licensing and more – so it is very clearly laid out and easy to navigate.
Firstly, you need to ensure that your audio files meet the following specifications in order for you to use the uploader. They must be:
Although you can upload MP3 files that meet these specifications, it isn’t recommended. It is not recommended to use MP3s because every file is encoded, and any quality reduction is locked in. It makes much more sense to send the original i.e. FLAC or WAV files to avoid loss of quality when the files are sent to partners.
The tracks need to meet all of CD Baby’s and their partner’s standards before they start to process your album submission. CD Baby will email you if there are any problems with the tracks. When you upload, please ensure file names only include letters & numbers, hyphens, underscores and any other special characters may cause an issue.
Take the simple steps to access the audio uploader for your submission:
Unlike other distributors who charge per-retailer fees, yearly fees and cancellation fees, CD Baby offers all of their distribution services for only $29 per album and $9.95 per single. You can upgrade a single from standard to Pro for $20, and for $40 for an album. Whenever they add a new retail partner, your music will be delivered to their stores free of charge.
Let’s take a look at what Standard vs Pro, so that you can weigh up your options.
|Standard Single||Pro Single||Standard Album||Pro Album|
|Worldwide CD or Vinyl distribution||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|YouTube Content ID||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Facebook and Instagram Stories||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free Pre-Saves and other marketing tools||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Publishing royalty collection worldwide||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Direct song registration||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Performing rights organisation affiliation||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Instant verification on Spotify and Apple Music for artists||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Access to CD Baby support team||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The main benefit of upgrading to Pro is that you will gain worldwide publishing royalty collection, direct song registration with global royalty collection societies, and Performing Rights Organisation affiliations in the USA & Canada.
CD Baby and Tunecore are the closest aligned in terms of the services that they offer, so this is the comparison we will take a look at. Here is an in-depth comparison of the two platforms.
|Annual Fees for Albums||$0||$49|
|Annual Fees for Singles||$0||$9.99|
|Commission on digital sales||9%||0%|
|Commission on physical sales||$4||n/a|
|Number of digital retail partners (iTunes, Amazon etc.)||150+||74+|
|Vinyl and CD fulfillment and warehousing||Yes||No|
|CD and Vinyl distribution to over 15,000 stores||Yes||No|
|Sell music on your website||Yes||No|
The main benefits of CD Baby are:
1. There are no annual fees. This means you never need to worry about CD Baby pulling your album offline because you can’t keep up with the annual payments.
2. They will help you tap into all revenue streams including distribution, YouTube monetisation and Publishing.
3. You will gain all the tools you need to promote and sell your music, with free access to Show.co and trending reports and analytics for your streams.
When comparing royalty collection, Tunecore does have an edge over CD Baby. For example, CD Baby takes 15% commission, and CD Baby Pro Publishing Administration pays songwriters 85% of any publishing royalties collected on their behalf. However, Tunecore doesn’t take any royalties, so artists receive 100% of the revenue.
We may be biased, and although us here at Music Gateway offer similar services to CD Baby, we believe we still have the best deal.
As stated above, CD Baby charge per song – our music distribution is absolutely free! With us, you also retain 100% of your royalties and we don’t get a penny from you, whereas CD Baby only lets you keep 91%.
Unlike CD Baby, our incredible music distribution service gets your music onto all major platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.
We also master your music for free to make sure that you sound the best you can before your release. With a free account, you get 2 free songs to start with and you get more based on your plan.
In addition, we offer exclusive sync licensing opportunities and free sync representation. As well as free press, blog, and promotional services. Hopefully, you’ll love what we can do for your career and will want to use some of these other amazing services!
When considering whether CD Baby Pro is worth it you need to way up the cost vs the benefits. As an independent musician money can lay heavily in the mind. With standard and pro music distribution options having reasonable costs, Pro is obviously more expensive. You are looking at a price which is about three times higher than that of CD Baby Standard. For an album, CD Baby Pro requires you to pay over twice the price of CD Baby Standard.
Contemplating the fact that CD Baby Pro is dearer than CD Baby Standard, it is clear to see that the benefits do vary between the two. After signing up with CD Baby Standard, you can sell your downloads on lots of platforms, get paid for streams, license your music for TV and so on. CD Baby Pro also offers all these benefits but there are few added extras: you and your songs would be registered with popular collection societies (ASCAP, BMI, SOCAN). Additionally, you can receive performance and mechanical royalties.
As both Pro and Standard packages of CD Baby have things that musicians will appreciate, it can be difficult to make a decision about whether you should use CD Baby Pro or Standard. As a result, it is important to consider your individual needs and requirements. If you are strapped for cash and looking to experiment a bit, CD Baby Standard will suit you just fine. Alternatively, if you wish to get the most out of your songs, go for CD Baby Pro.
CD Baby can be as beneficial for an unsigned musician as a record label is for its clients. It is an easy route to distribution for artists who are just starting out, or ones who don’t want the bureaucracy of a record label. Usually, distributors want to have some form of assurance that they’ll be able to sell your music once they take it on, so for those starting out it can be quite difficult. However, CD Baby enables distribution to anyone who needs it, which makes it easier for your music to be available.
There are plenty of opportunities for potential fans to come across your music, including ‘sounds like’ categories which allow users to look for bands that sound like their favourites or a tool which enables fans to shop for music by mood.
Whether you are just starting out as an artist, looking for guidance for a new release or wanting to get your music out there, you will need to work with a distribution service which is right for you.
Even if you are thinking about switching your current distribution or looking for your first one, it is fair to say that CD Baby can get your music distributed in the right places. But don’t forget us here at Music Gateway!
If you are looking for a platform that offers everything you need in one place, why not try Music Gateway? We can help with promoting your music, improving your streaming presence and providing Sync opportunities. Try it out for free today by signing up or clicking the button below.
“CD Baby’s website and DIY blog have provided me with all the information I needed to release three consecutive No. 1 Billboard albums without any major label support.”
Turn casual fans into email subscribers, Spotify followers, YouTube viewers, and more. CD Baby gives you powerful tools that can instantly amp up your music promotion.