CD Baby

By Josh Hughes, Elliott Khansari, Heather Davenport, and Erik Henkleman

The best thing about being a recording artist in today’s industry is that you no longer need the support of a label in order to amke yoru work easily accessible to potential consumers.  CD Baby provides a fantastic service that allows bands, indie labels, singers, comedians, etc. to set up their own website and sell their products.  Anyone that has a CD, at least 5 copies, and $35 can start an account and start selling.  It is incredibly easy and professional at the same time.  Potential buyers can view the site, stream sample clips of the music, view album artwork, read biographies, and even read/post reviews of the artist.  CD Baby also keeps track of inventory, handles all payment/shipping, and simply lets the artist or account holder know when a sale has occurred.  CD Baby then makes the sales information available to the account holder so that he/she/they can know exactly who made the purchase and where the item will be shipped to.  They could also view information that shows how potential buyers arrived at their site, i.e., through a search engine or advertisement.

The reason CD Baby is so artist friendly is because it was actually started by a musician.  Derek Sivers, founder and president of CD Baby started out as an indepenedent musician in Woodstock, New York who created a website to sell his own mucis.  As a hobby he started selling the work of local bands or friends.  Since he was already making a decent living with his own music, he was able to provide essentially a utopian online store for independent musicians.  He made it so that the artist(s) could be paid every week, the musician(s) would never be removed from the system no matter how low their sales were, and that the site would never accept advertising or paid placement.  Now more than a decade later CD Baby is the world’s largest online distributor of indie music, and it all started in a garage by one guy just trying to help himself out.  If that’s not the perfect example of an entrepreneurial goldmine then I don’t know what is.

There are now over 275,000 albums being sold on CD Baby, over 5 million sold online to customers, and a whopping $107,769,092 that has been paid directly to the artists.  Another great thing that CD Baby does is that after the artist has sent in his/her music, CD Baby will then listen to the songs and begin to pair up music that is similar in style so that when a web surfer is looking for music by “Artist A” they would then see “Artist B’s” album listed on the side of the page under the “Other’s Liked” or “You Might Also Try” section.  CD Baby will also distribute the music to digital retailers like Napster, iTunes, and Amazon.  The artist can also customize his/her account completely so that they choose how much distribution they get, how often to be paid, and choose to have their site searchable by location.  Here is an example of the CD Baby page layout where three featured albums are listed along with a description of the artist/music and a listed price










Consumers can visit CD Baby at  Artists and account holders can view their account information, update their profile, collect earnings, etc. at

Sources: CD Baby official  wesbsite:

CD baby on Wikipedia:

Images courtesy of Business Week and Google Images

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