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CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux Knows What it Means to Do It Yourself

When Tracy Maddux—a passionate fan of live music—joined CD Baby, he decided he needed to see a show by each of the new employees he worked with. Nearly everyone at CD Baby plays music. It meant ...

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Publicist
Samantha Brickler

Current News

  • 03/21/201803/21/2018

Where the Fans Are: CD Baby’s Show.co Puts Major Label-Strength Spotify Marketing Campaigns in Easy Reach of all its Artists

Spotify has proven vital to emerging and independent artists for distribution and income--and now as a launch pad for serious marketing efforts. From a tiny fraction of overall listening ten years ago to a huge slice now, streaming platforms provide a new place for independent artists to actively engage fans.

Thanks to CD Baby’s recent new offerings via marketing platform Show.co, artists have more ways to reach listeners and build an audience. The coolest feature: pre-save campaigns...

Press

  • Billboard, Feature story, 03/06/2018, CD Baby, Now In Its 20th Year, Says It Paid Out $80M to Indie Artists in 2017 Text
  • Forbes, Mention, 03/10/2018, These Customer Service Habits Can Drive A Company To Rival Zappos, Nordstrom, Virgin Text
  • MusicCityNashville.org, Feature story, 05/24/2018, CDBABY Remains an Industry Force in the Streaming Era Text
  • Rolling Stone, Mention, 02/22/2018, Why Are Albums So Long Right Now?
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News

03/21/2018, Where the Fans Are: CD Baby’s Show.co Puts Major Label-Strength Spotify Marketing Campaigns in Easy Reach of all its Artists
03/21/201803/21/2018, Where the Fans Are: CD Baby’s Show.co Puts Major Label-Strength Spotify Marketing Campaigns in Easy Reach of all its Artists
Announcement
03/21/2018
Announcement
03/21/2018
Thanks to CD Baby’s recent new offerings via marketing platform Show.co, artists have more ways to reach listeners and build an audience. The coolest feature: pre-save campaigns that automatically convert post-release to “save,” a feature unique to CD Baby and show.co. MORE» More»

Spotify has proven vital to emerging and independent artists for distribution and income--and now as a launch pad for serious marketing efforts. From a tiny fraction of overall listening ten years ago to a huge slice now, streaming platforms provide a new place for independent artists to actively engage fans.

Thanks to CD Baby’s recent new offerings via marketing platform Show.co, artists have more ways to reach listeners and build an audience. The coolest feature: pre-save campaigns that automatically convert post-release to “save,” a feature unique to CD Baby and show.co. It’s like the beloved iTunes pre-sale links, but for a new streaming reality.

CD Baby offers a set of tools that opens up possibilities once only within the reach of major labels--free to all CD Baby artists. “We work to support our artists’ efforts to reach fans where they listen, and Spotify is one of these crucial places,” says Kevin Breuner of CD Baby. “More than 30,000 labels and artists have already used Show.co’s services, so we know it works. We are really proud to offer this to our artists as a part of their already comprehensive toolbox.”

In the hands of each CD Baby artist, Show.co can launch numerous campaigns to drive audience growth and list building, promote new music and videos, and more. These calls-to-action can include following the artist on Spotify, subscribing to the artist’s YouTube channel, engaging in a contest, premiering a music video and more. Artists also have the opportunity to trade music singles for a fan’s email address. Once the fan submits their email address, their city and country are also automatically collected, providing valuable information for marketing efforts such as tour promotion.

Pre-saves are the streaming music-era answer to the pre-sale link. Via Show.co, these campaigns roll over automatically to “save,” once the album is released. “The automatic pre-save is a proprietary feature,” explains Rebecca Bateman, Senior Marketing Manager at CD Baby. “Pre-saves are not built into Spotify. We figured out how to both create a pre-save campaign and then turn it into a regular save campaign automatically once the release goes live, so the campaign stays relevant,” with no action required from busy artists.

Show.co had quietly attracted the attention of major labels (Universal) and big indies (Rounder, Nettwerk), as well as others. But since the acquisition by CD Baby, its 650,000 independent artists are able use the service for free to share content and collect important audience data. For artists and labels who do not use CD Baby, Show.co’s marketing services cost up to $99 per month.

Pre-saves are more than a gimmick; it’s a way to grow a fanbase and gain full access to fans. “Show.co provides an amazing direct-connect for our artists and their fans,” says Breuner. “Indie musicians can not only build their email lists, but also track what platforms their fans are using to consume their music, thus guiding the artist on what music streaming and video services to focus on.”

About CD Baby
CD Baby is one of the largest distributors of independent music on the planet, home to 650,000 artists and more than 9 million tracks that are made available to 100+ digital services and platforms around the globe. Artists on the platform are empowered to monetize their rights while maintaining control of their own careers, and have collectively earned over $600 million since the company’s founding. CD Baby’s Publishing Administration service allows over 140,000 songwriters to collect all of their publishing royalties. CD Baby has become the go-to partner for many icons in the new music industry. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Twenty One Pilots, and Macklemore had their start on CD Baby, while others like Ingrid Michaelson and Gregory Alan Isakov have maintained independent and highly successful careers while partnering with CD Baby. The CD Baby umbrella of business units also includes CD Baby Publishing Administration, CD Baby Licensing, distribution platform Soundrop, CD Baby Manufacturing, marketing suite Show.co, CD Baby YouTube Administration, multi-channel network Illustrated Sound, website host HostBaby, the CD Baby Store for downloads and physical sales, promotional tool HearNow. CD Baby is a division of AVL Digital Group, which is also the parent company of Disc Makers.

Announcement
03/21/2018

03/06/2018, Indie Millions: CD Baby Paid Out $80mil to Independent Artists in 2017
03/06/201803/06/2018, Indie Millions: CD Baby Paid Out $80mil to Independent Artists in 2017
Announcement
03/06/2018
Announcement
03/06/2018
It’s been a banner year for independent music and the artists from all walks of life who make it. CD Baby has seen similar growth, with its artists earning around $80 million payout on a catalog of more than 9 million digital tracks. CD Baby added around 1 million digital tracks in 2017 alone. MORE» More»

It’s been a banner year for independent music and the artists from all walks of life who make it.

Independent artists continue to make up an ever-growing share of the music business overall, with the proportion growing year over year (for 2017, it was around 40% of total industry revenue). CD Baby has seen similar growth, with its artists earning around $80 million payout on a catalog of more than 9 million digital tracks. CD Baby added around 1 million digital tracks in 2017 alone.

Much of the growth in the market for independent music comes from new platforms like Spotify and YouTube, where it’s easy to discover and listen to indie artists. At the same time, physical sales and downloads remain important for some styles, pointing to the diversity of models among independent artists. It all adds up to an increasingly vibrant scene that’s come a long way since CD Baby was founded twenty years ago.

The majority of this vibrancy comes from completely new distribution platforms: streaming services. “Just six years ago, iTunes downloads were the main source of sales revenue for our artists,” explains Kevin Breuner, VP of marketing at CD Baby. “Now, large amounts of money are generated by streams on Spotify and Apple Music. With this shift, we’ve seen revenue increase dramatically. The overall pie is growing, and indie musicians are getting their slices.”

For example, in 2009, when earnings from Spotify made up only around 1% of artist revenue, total income from the DSP barely scratched $500K. Now, as that Spotify’s share of revenue has grown to 58% of total earnings, artists are taking home almost $47 million from the streaming service alone.

“We’re excited to see average artists’ earnings grow for a third consecutive year due to millions more consumers engaging in music discovery on streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora,” says CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux. “YouTube is also a playing field-leveling platform that is contributing hugely to artist royalty growth. We’re very optimistic about the trend as we continue to lobby for higher per stream rates.”

“I’m so proud of what we see the artists in our community accomplishing everyday,” enthuses Breuner. “We’re committed to supporting and boosting their accomplishments.”

About CD Baby
CD Baby is one of the largest distributors of independent music on the planet, home to 650,000 artists and more than 9 million tracks that are made available to 100+ digital services and platforms around the globe. Artists on the platform are empowered to monetize their rights while maintaining control of their own careers, and have collectively earned over $600 million since the company’s founding. CD Baby’s Publishing Administration service allows over 140,000 songwriters to collect all of their publishing royalties. CD Baby has become the go-to partner for many icons in the new music industry. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Twenty One Pilots, and Macklemore had their start on CD Baby, while others like Ingrid Michaelson and Gregory Alan Isakov have maintained independent and highly successful careers while partnering with CD Baby. The CD Baby umbrella of business units also includes CD Baby Publishing Administration, CD Baby Licensing, distribution platform Soundrop, CD Baby Manufacturing, marketing suite Show.co, CD Baby YouTube Administration, multi-channel network Illustrated Sound, website host HostBaby, the CD Baby Store for downloads and physical sales, promotional tool HearNow. CD Baby is a division of AVL Digital Group, which is also the parent company of Disc Makers.

Announcement
03/06/2018

01/10/2018, AVL Digital Group Acquires AudioMicro, AdRev, and DashGo: CD Baby’s Parent Company Expands Music B2B Services for Labels and Publishers
01/10/201801/10/2018, AVL Digital Group Acquires AudioMicro, AdRev, and DashGo: CD Baby’s Parent Company Expands Music B2B Services for Labels and Publishers
Announcement
01/10/2018
Announcement
01/10/2018
AVL Digital Group, parent company of CD Baby and Disc Makers, already one of the largest distributors and service providers to independent artists, has made a major step into B2B services with the acquisition of LA-based AudioMicro and its AdRev and DashGo divisions. MORE» More»

AVL Digital Group, parent company of CD Baby and Disc Makers, already one of the largest distributors and service providers to independent artists, has made a major step into B2B services with the acquisition of LA-based AudioMicro and its AdRev and DashGo divisions. The purchase adds significant capabilities for CD Baby to serve record labels, publishers, and other music companies. The company now represents one of the largest catalogs of song rights in the world.                                                                                                          

AudioMicro includes the YouTube monetization platform AdRev, one of the world’s largest YouTube Content ID managers and Multi-Channel Networks; label services provider and distributor DashGo, whose powerful API is used by independent labels to send metadata automatically to music services; and synchronization licensing platform AudioMicro.com.

“Bringing these companies together with CD Baby will amplify our ability to serve more kinds of clients, from newly minted independent artists to established labels and publishers,” explains Tony van Veen, AVL Digital Group CEO. “The number of rights we now represent has multiplied substantially, and we have strengthened our arsenal of technology for rights holders with this acquisition. I’m very excited with how AdRev’s unique Content ID technology and DashGo’s API will help optimize asset monetization for artists, labels, and publishers across the globe.”

“As a company, CD Baby has a long history of using best-in-class technology to locate and claim all of the money made from all uses of our clients’ music,” CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux says. “The addition of AdRev and DashGo allows us to offer more in-demand services to our existing clientele, our core business of independent artists and small labels, and help monetize the content of a much broader range of music companies.”

Together, the companies will become one of the world’s largest music asset administrators. CD Baby already distributes almost 9 million tracks with nearly 1 million as publishing administrator and DashGo brings an additional 250,000 sound recordings as well as digital retail playlist, sales and marketing expertise. “Worldwide, it makes us one of the largest players, perhaps even the largest,” notes Maddux. “It's a big move for us in terms of asset administration capabilities.”

“We’re excited to add our LA team and capabilities to the CD Baby crew, and to continue to strengthen our technology to monetize our clients’ assets even more efficiently,” adds AudioMicro CEO Noah Becker. “Our whole staff is excited to be on board. This will help us grow even faster than before.”

AudioMicro’s headquarters will remain in Los Angeles, the hub of sync and production music. “It’s a great strategic fit for CD Baby,” Maddux concludes.

About CD Baby

CD Baby is one of the largest distributors of independent music on the planet, home to almost 650,000 artists and nearly 9 million tracks that are made available to 100+ digital services and platforms around the globe. Artists on the platform are empowered to monetize their rights while maintaining control of their own careers, and have collectively earned well over $500 million since the company’s founding. CD Baby’s Publishing Administration service allows over 130,000 songwriters to collect all of their publishing royalties. CD Baby has become the go-to partner for many icons in the new music industry. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Twenty One Pilots, and Macklemore had their start on CD Baby, while others like Ingrid Michaelson and Gregory Alan Isakov have maintained independent and highly successful careers while partnering with CD Baby. The CD Baby umbrella of business units also includes CD Baby Publishing Administration, CD Baby Licensing, distribution platform Soundrop, CD Baby Manufacturing, marketing suite Show.co, CD Baby YouTube Administration, multi-channel network Illustrated Sound, website host HostBaby, the CD Baby Store for downloads and physical sales, promotional tool HearNow. CD Baby is a division of AVL Digital Group, which is also the parent company of Disc Makers.

Announcement
01/10/2018

12/18/2017, Instant Verification: Now CD Baby Artists Can Unlock All the Power of Spotify for Artists Automatically
12/18/201712/18/2017, Instant Verification: Now CD Baby Artists Can Unlock All the Power of Spotify for Artists Automatically
Announcement
12/18/2017
Announcement
12/18/2017
If you’re a CD Baby artist, you’re instantly verified on Spotify, thanks to a new partnership between the indie music powerhouse and the streaming platform. No extra steps or logins, just instant access to Spotify’s data about listeners’ demographics and track and playlist performance. MORE» More»

If you’re a CD Baby artist, you’re instantly verified on Spotify, thanks to a new partnership between the indie music powerhouse and the streaming platform. No extra steps or logins, just instant access to Spotify’s data about listeners’ demographics and track and playlist performance.

“Getting verified has always been an important part of artists’ approach to Spotify, and now CD Baby artists can do it with very little hassle,” announces Kevin Breuner, CD Baby’s VP of Marketing. Artists using CD Baby as their distributor only need to log into their account and voila! They are verified.

Verification opens up a wide variety of tools for artists. They can see who’s listening in real time and track demographics and geographical location. They can compare the performance of different playlists and tracks to see what’s really getting traction. And users can find similar artists Spotify listeners are enjoying, to better target ads and marketing campaigns.

Spotify verified artists can also:

 

“Spotify has a lot to offer artists, and we’re happy we can give access to all our artists who want these tools,” says Breuner.

Announcement
12/18/2017

11/27/2017, YouTube and the Global Race for Fans
11/27/201711/27/2017, YouTube and the Global Race for Fans
Announcement
11/27/2017
Announcement
11/27/2017
The last few months I've been on the road in Nashville, Barcelona, Mumbai and Rio, meeting with artists and I’ve noticed something is brewing. The gates are down and independent artists are dashing into the music world like no other time before. MORE» More»

The last few months I've been on the road in Nashville, Barcelona, Mumbai and Rio, meeting with artists and I’ve noticed something is brewing. The gates are down and independent artists are dashing into the music world like no other time before. It’s got many people outside the independent music scene looking over their shoulders.

What’s the cause of all this? YouTube.

It’s no secret that YouTube is a disruptive factor in the music industry. It provides incredible opportunities for every type of artist to reach fans all over the world with their music. It also enables new and unsigned artists to compete with popular artists and the mainstream music industry on a more level playing field thanks to its technology. Those once rare viral music videos that plastered headlines a few years ago were signposts for a new way to build music audiences.

Artists are now using YouTube to act like the TV stations, radio programmers, and newsrooms of the past. And YouTube itself is highly engaged in helping creators unlock the potential of its platform. In August at our 3rd annual DIY Musician Conference, YouTube staffers attended in force, showing creators how to create and promote their music and videos on YouTube.

As I traveled, I got a little curious myself about how YouTube might be changing the world of music. So to explore these international scenes, on long airplane rides, I read Streampunks, the new book by the company’s Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl. It left me energized and intrigued, with a new appreciation for artists around the world who are unlocking YouTube’s potential.

The first time I observed a YouTube success at CD Baby was in 2012 when we got a call from a publisher that owned the composition rights to the song “Somebody That I Used to Know” by the artist Gotye. He called because Gotye’s song was number one everywhere in the Western world, except Canada, where a cover of the song had topped the charts instead. That cover was an appropriately licensed version by the band Walk Off the Earth, who released a brilliant video, “5 Peeps, 1 Guitar,” that powered its version to number one instead. As of this writing, the group now has 2.8 million subscribers and is approaching 700 million aggregate views on its YouTube channel, in addition to 188K followers on Instagram and 2.9 million Facebook likes. They’ve used their YouTube channel to continually create quirky, interesting, compelling videos and build their repertoire to include a major label release that includes a gold certified record.

At CD Baby, we’re fortunate to work with a number of other artists who have built thriving independent music careers using a similar YouTube-first approach, building a fanbase with a steady release of covers before releasing their own original content. We’re also thrilled to see the rapid growth in earnings for independent creators whose music and videos we administer on YouTube. In the past five years these earnings have grown from virtually nothing to nearly 10% of the $100 million our artists will earn this year.

The amazingly talented vocalist Peter Hollens whose channel has 1.7 million subscribers and 264 million views has built much of his career on YouTube. He also has 126K Twitter follows. The band Ninja Sex Party appealed to its 1 million YouTube subscribers last year with a physical pre-release of “Under the Covers,” selling nearly 44,000 CDs and vinyl records and debuting on the American Billboard charts at number nine. And just in case you’re tempted to write this off as a fluke, it’s worth noting that NSP has just repeated this success a few weeks ago, with their second release, “Under the Covers 2.” The group used YouTube to pre-sell 25,000 CDs and released in the top 20 on the Billboard charts. This approach to building a fanbase of YouTube subscribers as a bridge to the next level is no longer novel, and it’s happening all over the world.

YouTube is unsettling the order of things everywhere in the music industry for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it enables the artist to connect directly with more than 1.5 billion potential fans worldwide. There is no other digital platform that unlocks this large of an audience worldwide (second place might be Apple iTunes with over a billion users, and third is China’s Tencent, which has more than 500 million subscribers.)

YouTube also lowers the barriers of investment for art. A well-thought out, highly creative and competently performed video can now compete with the high cost, commercially produced, major label financed videos on a more level playing field. It enables artists to retain both ownership and creative control, leading in my opinion to more diverse creative expression.

The platform also provides incredibly valuable data directly to channel owners and creators with a few clicks. Utilizing YouTube’s analytics, creators know who their fans are and where their fans are, which in turn helps them conceive content that resonates with their audience. This enables creators to understand how to better deploy their most scarce resource: their time. It helps them understand things like where to tour and even what kind of content to create. And it does this in near real time. YouTube enables transparency in an industry known for opacity.

YouTube paid out more than a billion dollars to the music industry in 2016. That is triple the amount of ad supported revenue paid out by Spotify, although less than either Apple iTunes or Spotify in aggregate dollars. And YouTube is here to stay as part of the massive Google-Alphabet ecosystem. Next time you hear an industry pundit decry the low per stream payouts from YouTube, consider who the source is and who is really threatened by access, transparency, diversity of art and competition for fans worldwide. I’m excited to see how both YouTube and other platforms evolve in how they are connecting artists and fans.  My hope is that Apple, Spotify and emerging platforms like Tencent also invest in these tools of connection that are clearly helping Independent artists level the playing field. 

Announcement
11/27/2017