Music Gateway
Login or Join for Free
or sign up with
Spotify icon
Burger menu
Large chevron
close icon

Music Distribution

CD Baby: The Complete Review

Photograph of the blog post author, Carla Johnson

Carla Johnson


Small blue and purple gradient divider


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.

What Is CD Baby?

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.

CD Baby Services

CD Baby

The platform offers a range of services including:

  • Digital music distribution
  • Worldwide publishing rights administration
  • Music use on social video platforms
  • Sync licensing
  • Music marketing and online advertising
  • Cover song licensing
  • Manufacturing and duplication for physical distribution
  • Order fulfilment for CDs and vinyl records

CD Baby Distribution

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 come included in all Standard and Pro packages.

Here are some of the partnerships they are involved with below. And this is not exclusive.

CD Baby

CD Baby Pro Publishing

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:

  • You are affiliated as a songwriter with a Performing Rights Organisation (P.R.O.) in the US (ASCAP, BMI) and Canada (SOCAN)
  • Administer your existing P.R.O. affiliation or guide you to your country’s P.R.O. membership application
  • Register your songs with worldwide royalty collection societies
  • Pull together all the performance royalties you are owed throughout the world
  • Get all your worldwide mechanical royalties for streams and international downloads (which Performing Rights Organisations will not collect)

CD Baby Promotion

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.

In terms of promotion, there are options for help with website creation, a HearNow promo page for your next release, merchandise, radio airplay and more!

CD Baby Manufacturing & Duplication

CD Baby

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 CDs. 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.

CD Baby Artist Website

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!

CD Baby Store

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 stressed that it will continue to distribute physical products — just not at its own store.

Customer Service

The platform offers a dedicated support system via its 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.

What Is CD Baby & Social Video Monetisation?

With CD Baby’s Social Video Monetization service, you can earn money when your songs are used in videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram Stories, and more. Even if they’re just playing in the background of a video someone else uploaded. This service is included with both the Standard and Pro distribution plans, so you can start earning money right away.

How To Upload Music To CD Baby

Firstly, you need to ensure that your audio files meet the following specifications in order for you to use the uploader. They must be:

  • High-quality files in either WAV or FLAC
  • Stereo
  • 44.1 kHz sample rate
  • 16bit

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 that may cause an issue.

Take the simple steps to access the audio uploader for your submission:

  1. Log in to your account
  2. At the top of the page, click on the tab Album & Singles
  3. Click on ‘View/Edit’ button to the right of your submission
  4. On the Title Overview page click ‘Tracks & Audio’
  5. Click on ‘Add/Edit Audio’
  6. You will be able to edit the audio on the following page
  7. Remove the old tracks (if applicable) and upload your new audio tracks.


CD Baby

Unlike other distributors who charge per-retailer fees, yearly fees and cancellation fees, CD Baby offers all of their distribution services for $9.99 for both per album and per single. The standard cost of a Pro single is $49.00 and for $49.99 for an album. And you can upgrade a single from standard to Pro for $40.00. Whenever they add a new retail partner, your music will be delivered to their stores free of charge.

You can take a closer look at the costs using this link here.

Why don’t we take a look at what Standard vs Pro is so that you can weigh up your options.

Pro Vs Standard

 Standard SinglePro SingleStandard AlbumPro Album
Digital DistributionYesYesYesYes
Worldwide CD or Vinyl DistributionNoNoYesYes
YouTube Content IDYesYesYesYes
Facebook and Instagram StoriesYesYesYesYes
Sync LicensingYesYesYesYes
Free Pre-Saves and other marketing toolsYesYesYesYes
Publishing royalty collections worldwideNoYesNoYes
Direct song registrationNoYesNoYes
Performing rights organisation affiliationNoYesNoYes
Instant verification on Spotify and Apple Music for ArtistsYesYesYesYes
Access to CD Baby support teamYesYesYesYes

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.

Comparison To Competitors

Some of CD Baby’s direct competitors are DistroKid, Tunecore, Ditto Music, Reverbnation and Octiive.

CD Baby Vs Tunecore

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.

 CD BabyTuneCore
Album cost$9.99$29.99
Single cost$9.99$9.99
Annual Fees for Albums$0$49
Annual Fees for Singles$0$9.99
Commission on digital sales9%0%
Commission on physical sales$4n/a
Sync licensing$0$10
The number of digital retail partners (iTunes, Amazon etc.)150+74+
Vinyl and CD fulfilment and warehousingYesNo
CD and Vinyl distribution to over 15,000 storesYesNo
Sell music on your websiteYesNo

Benefits of CD Baby

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 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.

UPC & CD Baby

A UPC is required to distribute each submission. A UPC (Universal Product Code) is a unique 12-digit code used to identify a digital music product for sale. It is typically found on the back of a CD or vinyl record, or within the digital download itself. The UPC is used by retailers to track sales and inventory of music products.

If you do not have one, CD Baby can help you create one for free. Every digital platform reports your numbers to Nielsen SoundScan using the UPC.

CD Baby

CD Baby vs Мusic Gateway

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.

What Makes Distribution By Мusic Gateway So Great?

  • You can distribute your music for FREE!
  • Keep 100% of your royalties!
  • Get free mastering to ensure your track sounds the best it can before distributing it!
  • Distribute your music to Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and over 300 more DSPs!
  • Instant set up, upload your music and go!

All of this and more allows you to successfully distribute your music through Мusic Gateway with no recurring annual fees.

Also, if you have songs released through other distributors, you may want to think about moving them to us! 

Most other distributors will take a cut of your streaming and sales royalties. So, move your entire catalogue to us and start receiving 100% of your revenue. 

It’s simple to transfer a song and we’ll ensure that all your listens, downloads and stats remain. It really is a no-brainer!

In addition, we offer exclusive sync licensing opportunities and free sync representation. As well as a free press, blog and promotional services.

We may be biased, but we think we have the better deal!

Is CD Baby Pro Worth It?


CD Baby

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 a 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 the 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 Мusic Gateway!

We may be biased, and although we here at Мusic 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%.


closed button
Music Gateway Company Logo

Get started today

Join for Free