CD Baby

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CD Baby, Inc.
CD Baby Logo Black.png
Available inEnglish, Spanish, Portuguese
FoundedMarch 10, 1998; 23 years ago (1998-03-10)[1]
Woodstock, New York, U.S.
DissolvedMarch 2020
HeadquartersPortland, Oregon, U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Derek Sivers
IndustryDigital distribution, music publisher, online music store
ProductsDigital distribution, promotion
ParentAVL Digital Group (Downtown)

CD Baby, Inc. was an online distributor of independent music. The company was described as an "anti-label" by its parent company's Chief Operating Officer Tracy Maddux.[2] The CD Baby music store was shut down in March 2020 with a statement that "CD Baby retired our music store in March of 2020 in order to place our focus entirely on the tools and services that are most meaningful to musicians today and tomorrow."[3]

In 2019, CD Baby was the only digital aggregator with top preferred partner status with both Spotify and Apple Music,[4][5] and it was home to more than 650,000 artists and nine million tracks that were made available to over 100 digital services and platforms around the globe as of May 2019.[6]

The firm, as of 2018, operated out of Portland, Oregon, with offices in New York City and London.[6][7]


CD Baby was founded in 1998 in Woodstock, New York, by Derek Sivers.[8] Sivers was a musician who created the website to sell his own music. As a hobby, he also began to sell the CDs of local bands and friends. Sivers originally listened to every CD he sold (the company later employed people specifically to do this, but today,[when?] CD Baby no longer listens to every submission).[citation needed] Sivers eventually hired John Steup as his vice president and first employee.[9]

Sivers partnered with Oasis Disc Manufacturing[10] to distribute the complete Oasis artist roster.[11]

In 2001, the firm moved to Portland, Oregon, where they remain headquartered today. In 2004, CD Baby began offering an digital music distribution and became an early partner of iTunes.[12]

In August 2008 Disc Makers, a CD and DVD manufacturer, announced that they had bought CD Baby (and Host Baby) for 22 million dollars following a 7-year partnership between the two companies.[13]

In 2012, CD Baby added YouTube monetization to its services that come included with music distribution.[14]

In 2013, CD Baby Pro Publishing was launched as an add-on that assists independent songwriters in administering their composition rights and collecting global publishing royalties. The service is now available to songwriters in more than 70 countries and territories.[15]

In March 2019, Disc Makers sold CD Baby (as part of the AVL Digital Group) to Downtown for $200 million. AVL's physical product divisions, Disc Makers, BookBaby, and Merchly, were acquired in a separate transaction by the Disc Makers executive team as part of the newly-formed DIY Media Group.[16]

On March 31, 2020, CD Baby ceased its retail sales of music, in any format, but continued to manage wholesale music distribution for its musician clients.[17]

Technical history[edit]

Until 2009, CD Baby ran on PHP and MySQL.[7] Sivers announced in 2005 that he was rewriting all the systems in Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL.[18][19] After about two years of work, he felt that the rewrite was still less than half done, and he threw the new code away and rewrote it again in his original programming language, PHP, and database, MySQL. Sivers noted that "Rails was an amazing teacher" but he concluded that PHP was up to the task once he had learned the lessons Ruby on Rails taught him.[20]

CD Baby relaunched the website with major infrastructure changes (using ASPX) to support future growth, including redundancy that protects the original material on the site in a way that initially was not available to the artists. The website is no longer being run with the original or revised PHP. The new site experienced significant glitches initially, but this did not prevent the company from continuing to pay its artists as sales were reported to CD Baby by partners and others, monies received, and artist-chosen payment points reached.[21][22]


For its clients, CD Baby offers digital music distribution, worldwide publishing rights administration, monetization of music use on social video platforms, sync licensing, music marketing, online advertising, cover song licensing, and physical distribution and order fulfillment for CDs and vinyl records.[23] By opting into their online distribution service, artists can authorize CD Baby to act on their behalf to submit music for sale to online retailers such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora Radio, and 150+ other streaming services.[14]

The company also hosts two annual conferences for independent musicians looking for education, networking, and performance opportunities. Described as "the only music conference geared specifically towards the needs of independent artists in charge of their careers", the DIY Musician Conference took place in Chicago in 2015 and 2016, Nashville in 2017 and 2018, and is scheduled in Austin for 2019 and 2020.[24]

In 2018, CD Baby paid over $100 million[4] to its artist community (a 25% increase from 2017[25]), bringing its total artist payouts to over $700 million. In addition to the services the firm offers under its own name, CD Baby also now owns and operates HearNow,, Illustrated Sound Network, and HostBaby.[26] HostBaby closed in 2019.[27]

Notable artists at CD Baby[edit]

CD Baby has a catalogue of more than 350,000 albums and over nine million downloadable song tracks. Music created by these acts, ranging from part-time hobbyists, to full-time musicians with successful careers, spans all genres, from avant-garde to world music. Dave Matthews has an album for sale on CD Baby, recorded with Mark Roebuck before the inception of Dave Matthews Band, released under the name Tribe of Heaven. Other notable artists releasing their music via CD Baby include Ingrid Michaelson who has used CD Baby for digital distribution for every release[28] as well as Twenty One Pilots, Gravity Noir, Viper, Aloe Blacc, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Head and the Heart, Bon Iver, Sara Bareilles, and The National. Americana acts Mary Gauthier, Marshall Chapman, Lorenzo Jaar, Gretchen Peters, and Tom Russell; blues musicians Harmonica Hinds, Jeremiah Johnson,[29] and Liz Mandeville; American Italian pianist and composer Richard Aaker Trythall; Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe; the UK duo Nizlopi; and Italian-born, American classical violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Music Director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra; Iranian Pop Star Mohsen Yeganeh; South African Concept Artist Alessandro Batazzi; Russian American opera singer Elena Zoubareva; and Big Sur. American singer-songwriter Grayson Hugh sells his music on CD Baby, as well as on his website. Grammy Award-winning artist Janis Ian, a pioneer among independent musicians marketing online, sells her CDs on the website as well as through her own website. Indeed, CD Baby has served as the distributor for dozens of Grammy-nominated and Grammy-winning titles.[30][31][32][33][34]

American alternative rock band Lazlo Bane stayed as an independent band after their initial success with theme song for TV series Scrubs and went on to sell their music through CD Baby.[35]

The midwest punk rock bands Degenerates and Spite also sell their music on CD Baby.[36][37]

Hong Kong based singer Wing, best known for guest starring on an episode of South Park, also sells her music on CD Baby.[38]

Norwegian singer/songwriter Stig Gustu Larsen has released two top-charting EPs through CD Baby. The latest EP "Lifelines + Echoes" debuted at number one at the Norwegian iTunes charts.[citation needed]

World music artists who sold their albums on CD Baby also include Kaysha, Soumia, and Julio D.[citation needed]

Latvian-Brazilian singer-songwriter Laura Rizzotto has released multiple projects through CD Baby like her second studio album Reason to Stay in 2014 and an EP named RUBY in 2018.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  2. ^ Rohter, Larry (August 12, 2014). "CD Baby, a Company for the Niche Musician". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  3. ^ "CD Baby Music Store". Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Dukoff, Spencer. "Spotify, Apple Music Helped CD Baby Artists Earn Over $100 Million In 2018". Forbes. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  5. ^ "Apple names The Orchard, Kontor and CD Baby 'Preferred Plus' music distributors as part of new program". Music Business Worldwide. November 13, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "CD Baby Expands Operations to London, Hires Rich Orchard & Steve Cusack". Billboard. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "About | CD Baby Music Store". Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  8. ^ Sivers, Derek (2011). Anything You Want. United States of America: Do You Zoom, Inc. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-936719-11-2.
  9. ^ "Cd Baby in Portland, OR - (503) 595-3000". Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  10. ^ Soloman, Micah. "Oasis Disc Manufacturing (Choose a package that radiates quality and eco-friendliness!)". Oasis.
  11. ^ Soloman, Micah. "Sell your music worldwide with CD Baby". Oasis.
  12. ^ "Indie artist payments from CD Baby increase 33% in 2017, and other numbers you'll want to see [INFOGRAPHIC]". DIY Musician Blog. March 6, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  13. ^ "CD Baby sold to Disc Makers - news, torrent, wikipedia, free MP3, download, lyrics". Archived from the original on August 13, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2008.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ a b "Worldwide Digital Music Distribution". Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  15. ^ "CD Baby now publishes over a million songs - and says it's 'helping solve the industry's publishing problem one songwriter at a time'". Music Business Worldwide. August 15, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  16. ^ "Downtown buys CD Baby owner for $200m". Music Business Worldwide. March 27, 2019. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  17. ^ Rodríguez, Andrea (April 13, 2020). "What you should know about the retirement of CD Baby's retail store". cd Baby. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  18. ^ "CD Baby rewrite in Postgres and Ruby, Baby!". Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  19. ^ "Migrating to Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL: An Interview with CD Baby". Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  20. ^ "7 reasons I switched back to PHP after 2 years on Rails". Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  21. ^ "Sell Music Online - Sell worldwide on iTunes, Amazon, and More!". CD Baby. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  22. ^ "Sell Music Online - Sell worldwide on iTunes, Amazon, and More!". CD Baby. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  23. ^ "Sell Your Music Worldwide". CD Baby. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  24. ^ "CD Baby DIY Musician Conference Moves To Austin, TX". Music Connection Magazine. September 4, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  25. ^ "CD Baby, Now In Its 20th Year, Says It Paid Out $80M to Indie Artists in 2017". Billboard. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  26. ^ "Tools & Resources To Promote Your Music - Music Promotion". CD Baby. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  27. ^ Silva, Marsha (August 18, 2019). "Bandzoogle Takes Over Artist Page Hosting for CD Baby as 'HostBaby' Gets Transitioned". Digital Music News.
  28. ^ "Ingrid Michaelson Discography;". CDBaby. Archived from the original on January 1, 2018.
  29. ^ "Brand Spank'n Blue - Jeremiah Johnson, The Jeremiah Johnson Band, The Sliders | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  30. ^ "Exciting year for independent musicians nominated for Grammy Awards". DIY Musician Blog. December 13, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  31. ^ "Congratulations to all CD Baby artists nominated for a 2018 Latin Grammy". DIY Musician Blog. September 25, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  32. ^ "Strong independent showing for 2016 Grammy nominations". DIY Musician Blog. December 11, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  33. ^ "Impressive independent showing for 2017 Grammys". DIY Musician Blog. February 3, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  34. ^ "Big independent showing for 2018 Grammy Awards". DIY Musician Blog. November 30, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  35. ^ "Lazlo Bane". CD Baby. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  36. ^ "Spite; The Emotion Not the point; CD Baby Music Store". CDBaby. February 23, 1985. Archived from the original on May 20, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  37. ^ "Degenerates by Degenerates; CD Baby Music Store". Archived from the original on July 5, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  38. ^ "About Wing". June 30, 2015. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016.
  39. ^ ""Ross & Rach"". Retrieved May 8, 2021.