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About

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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Contact

Senior Tech Publicist
Tyler Volkmar
(812) 961-3723

Current News

  • 09/02/202009/02/2020

Show.co’s Interactive Ads Can Quadruple Fan Engagement

CD Baby’s marketing and promotional platform Show.co has found that its new interactive ads get 4x the engagement compared to static ads. This new offering in the Ad Builder tool lets you create an ad automatically from Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, or YouTube links, making it easy for a busy artist to jump in and get the word out about their latest release or weekly livestream. These ads reach real music fans targeted based on genre interests. They display on music sites like...

Press

  • Forbes, Highlight, 06/28/2020, The Pandemic And Protests Are Shaping The Way Independent Artists Release Music Text
  • Billboard, Feature story, 12/18/2019, Uniting Musical Niches Across Scattered Global Markets Makes a Stronger Indie Sector (Guest Column) Text
  • Variety, Highlight, 08/11/2020, Amid India’s Pandemic, Independent Artists Thrive Outside the Bollywood Machine Text
  • Rolling Stone, Highlight, 04/15/2020, Independent Artists Are Making More Music Than Ever Text
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News

09/02/2020, Show.co’s Interactive Ads Can Quadruple Fan Engagement
09/02/202009/02/2020, Show.co’s Interactive Ads Can Quadruple Fan Engagement
Announcement
09/02/2020
Announcement
09/02/2020
CD Baby’s marketing and promotional platform Show.co has found that its new interactive ads get 4x the engagement compared to static ads. MORE» More»

CD Baby’s marketing and promotional platform Show.co has found that its new interactive ads get 4x the engagement compared to static ads. This new offering in the Ad Builder tool lets you create an ad automatically from Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, or YouTube links, making it easy for a busy artist to jump in and get the word out about their latest release or weekly livestream. These ads reach real music fans targeted based on genre interests. They display on music sites like Billboard, Pitchfork, Paste, and Rolling Stone.

Artists can simply head to show.co, choose Interactive Ads, add a link, choose their genre and basic audience characteristics, and figure out where they want fans to go. The ad is ready to unleash on music-centered sites, including popular media outlets and blogs. Bonus: each stream or view based on the ad’s link contributes to an artist’s income. 

“Ads can get really complicated, so we worked hard to make it as simple and straightforward as possible to create and launch an ad campaign,” says CD Baby’s SVP of Marketing, Kevin Breuner. “We wanted to provide just what artists need, putting their music in front of music fans at the very place and time they’re online searching for new artists to check out.”

For artists, the problem isn’t just how to create an ad or set up a campaign. It’s evaluating what garners the right kind of attention, finding potential fans where they are most likely to listen. Though artists have long relied on social platforms and apps for advertising, these places are not necessarily ideal for music-specific campaigns. 

“Most people look at an ad’s performance and see the clicks, and think the one with more clicks wins,” Breuner explains. “But that’s not accurate. For example, some people clicked but never bothered to go to your page, which happens on mobile a lot. You can look instead at the data for a streaming song like the ones used in our interactive ads and the key metrics are the bounce rate and watch time. If someone sees your video in passing in their feed, social platforms will count that as a view, even if it’s only lasting one second.”

Interactive ads lead to longer watch times and more genuine click throughs to an artists’ page. “We tested this feature extensively and found real differences in performance,” notes Breuner. “In the ads we've been running, the watch time percentage is huge compared to what a more expensive ad on a big social media platform would get,” one of the other main options for musicians looking to advertise to fans. The overall result: around 4x the engagement compared to similarly placed static ads at far lower cost than a social campaign.

This may sound like a minor deal, but for independent artists struggling to reach potential fans with their recordings, every cost saving and quality connection with a music lover can make a difference. “Promotion tools that make life easier for artists feel very important at a time when artists need to rely on recordings to keep afloat,” Breuner says

Announcement
09/02/2020

01/06/2020, Share the Mic: What we learned from building a more global team
01/06/202001/06/2020, Share the Mic: What we learned from building a more global team
Announcement
01/06/2020
Announcement
01/06/2020
In a recent piece I contributed to Billboard, I had the opportunity to talk about why we need to think differently about globalization. It’s a conversation we have been having at CD Baby and AVL for years, one that culminated this year in a rolling set of announcements about our expansion into new markets. MORE» More»

Appeared in LinkedIn

In a recent piece I contributed to Billboard, I had the opportunity to talk about why we need to think differently about globalization. It’s a conversation we have been having at CD Baby and AVL for years, one that culminated this year in a rolling set of announcements about our expansion into new markets. 

I feel like I covered the principles guiding this big global year pretty well in the Billboard piece, but I also think the nitty gritty of translating these principles into concrete business decisions is interesting. So in true DIY fashion, I’m going to share some lessons we learned here in more detail.

First and foremost, you have to share the mic with those different from you (speaking from the perspective of an American CEO). This can’t simply be a blunt export strategy, with policies or products dictated from afar, reskinned for what you think new customers might want or brought into basic compliance with local law.

We’ve learned that globalization is really localization, and that localization needs to get deep. At the most basic is the interpersonal level, you have to learn to listen and take people seriously who come from a background different from yours. This is a bit of a platitude nowadays, but to actually do it requires conscious, humble effort to look at the structure of conversations and actively encourage, include, and lift up people with strong local or community knowledge. Diverse voices don’t magically appear, if you just sit back. There needs to be an active process in place to turn them up in the mix (to take the mic metaphor a step further).  

Part of this process means hiring. You should be hiring in new markets, even if it means hiring on contract at first. But you have to hire people who are there, not people who travel there but live outside the local culture and scene. No matter how awesome an entrepreneur or business person you are or how cosmopolitan your team, you simply can’t execute a impactful strategy in a dozen markets remotely. 

Hiring is one of those things that’s easy in theory and challenging in practice. It’s challenging to identify and retain people who are the right fit for your business in a market where you’re just getting off the ground. Given some of the strictures around hiring in some countries, it can be really difficult to hire in general. But it’s essential. As as a business leader, doing as much of it as you can in person it critical, even if, like me, you don't like getting on a plane and being away from home.

It’s also great for business, we’ve discovered, boosting our sales by several times in countries where we have on-the-ground representatives. This makes it more than worth the effort of hiring, and shows what empowered local reps and employees can do, if you give them the right tools and listen to them.

About these tools. There are deep localization strategies to pursue on the product side, as well. Language localization is simply not enough. There’s a cultural component that only local knowhow and vision can shine a light on. In CD Baby’s case, we needed to figure out how artists create music in a specific place and how they experienced our service. An artist in Colombia may experience our platform differently than an artist in Mexico, though they both speak Spanish as a first language. The experience artists are having, and our local representatives are sharing with them, has to be relevant.

We’ve found the easiest way to find out how people are experiencing our service is to talk to them directly, by opening up regional contact centers for key markets. We opened our first non-US contact center in the UK this year, and were able to recruit representatives that speak multiple regional languages, such as French and Italian. In 2020, we’ll be opening our first South American contact center in Colombia, offering support in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

There’s one other element we’ve found is important to localization. When you’re working in a market, you have to spend time there (again, speaking as an American CEO). Even with all the tech out there, you can’t build good working relationships remotely and you can’t learn all you need to know via video chat. Heli Del Moral, our incredible VP of International Development really proved this point at our recent summit for international reps in Mexico City. He and our colleagues in Mexico City put together an experience that could never have been conveyed via conference call. 

We got to meet two very different artists in person and hear how their careers have gone. One was a pop band refugee who had launched a solo career and was working extremely hard to put the pieces together. For example, he struck a deal with a fashion house to sponsor a very professionally produced video, trading product placement within the video in exchange for the video's cost of production. The other artist was a transgender Folk performer who channels a specific subgenre of regional Mexican music. They told an incredible story about how their career in art evolved along with their understanding of self. To really get what made these artists and their situations unique, you had to be there, interacting with them and other professionals in person. It was great to have 25 members of the extended AVL and Downtown teams there in person to engage and understand.

So, in short, immerse yourself and encourage your core team or lead people on certain projects to do the same. They need to know first hand what their colleagues are talking about. 

This sounds fun, but it can really suck in reality. It’s hard to leave home and family obligations for the time it takes to make this work. I myself clocked 200,000 or so air miles outside the US in the last two years and frankly, I’m not looking forward to getting on an airplane again as we start the new year. That said, I am eager to keep engaging with and listening to our representatives, artists, and partners around the world, and excited to watch our localization approach mature. The impacts to our business and personal growth continue to be outstanding.

Announcement
01/06/2020

12/18/2019, Uniting Musical Niches Across Scattered Global Markets Makes a Stronger Indie Sector
12/18/201912/18/2019, Uniting Musical Niches Across Scattered Global Markets Makes a Stronger Indie Sector
Announcement
12/18/2019
Announcement
12/18/2019
Independents around the world have the potential to negotiate on par with the majors -- if they band together. MORE» More»
Appeared in Billboard
 
Independents around the world have the potential to negotiate on par with the majors -- if they band together.
 
Everything has changed for independent labels and artists, especially in their potential to wield negotiating power with the rest of the music business. The independent route has gone from last option to great option, thanks to the tenacity of artists who wanted to go their own way and the hard work of forward-thinking labels and artist service companies. To cite just one telling metric that reflects this trend, the independent music sector is the fastest growing segment of the music market, expanding by around 15% in 2018, according to MIDiA Research analysis.
 
We see this expansion firsthand. At CD Baby, we represent over 750,000 artists from around the world. Much of our growth is coming from new territories where the opportunities for artists and local genres look very different. The mainstream industry won't see these trends as fast as we do because independent artists exploding out of local markets tend to see success locally and on platforms like YouTube before trending on the major DSPs.
 
This data suggests that as digital music creation and streaming consumption mature and go global, local niches are providing the biggest opportunities for independent artists. By definition all these niches are each doing their own thing, making them unlikely to mobilize as one unified force on their own. This can make standing up to traditionally dominant forces in the industry and their approach to music making and distribution seem impossible.
 
Yet ultimately if all the niches work together, they have the potential to negotiate on par with the majors and further define the rules of the game. They can aggregate the volume of the independent sector, which collectively has clout. This united power can represent the real economic interests of independent labels and artists in negotiations with digital service providers. And, importantly, this power lies in embracing more than just what's happening with artists in the U.S. and in Anglo territories. We need to embrace bold independent music voices everywhere.
 
This is easy to say, tougher to execute. But it's worth it, as CD Baby has discovered in our recent expansion throughout Latin America with wildly diverse independent artist communities. The impact of global consumption and market share is influenced by things happening in local economies. These global niches retain strong regional flavors. This is the key to unlocking the full potential for artists; we've seen that when we localize the language we use to interact with artists and -- perhaps most importantly -- deploy knowledgeable local professionals who can engage artists meaningfully, growth increases by two to six times. Wherever we hire someone local to work with artists, business takes off.
 
As independent business leaders reckon with how they can best counterbalance traditionally dominant forces in the music industry, they need to unleash more of this regional power. They need to see they have real allies and peers across the globe and that what works at home may not work in a new market. They need to take local music professionals seriously, hire them for their superior local knowledge when appropriate and strive toward shared goals. By cooperating in rapidly growing independent music markets like Colombia or India, we can all have a voice in writing the rules that govern how music business gets done. We can go from a few culturally specific people dictating the laws of the market, to a freer, more diverse, more economically vibrant music business with a planet's worth of creativity and innovative local ideas about how to keep things growing.
 
This means ensuring balanced representation across the world for the independent sector. We have to strengthen our commitment to advocate on behalf of those rights holders; those in markets that have been neglected or segmented off, globalizing our collective bargaining with the services that use music from everywhere.
 
At CDBaby and DashGo, we are engaging in other parts of the world with independent music organizations in places like Brazil, Mexico and India. This needs to continue and I'd argue we need to double down on our commitment to listening to and sharing the microphone with our colleagues in these markets.
 
Wherever there's growth, wherever there's more people streaming music and wherever there's an opportunity to connect with fans and independent art, we want to make sure that we're engaged in the independent music ecosystem and ensuring room at the negotiating table. The power of niches promises that if we do this, we'll keep independent music growing and thriving.
Announcement
12/18/2019

12/11/2019, CD Baby announces return of DIY Musician Conference to Austin in August 2020, its flagship gathering for motivated self-managed musicians
12/11/201912/11/2019, CD Baby announces return of DIY Musician Conference to Austin in August 2020, its flagship gathering for motivated self-managed musicians
Announcement
12/11/2019
Announcement
12/11/2019
CD Baby is announcing its 6th annual DIY Musician Conference, to be held on August 28-30 in Austin, Texas. MORE» More»

CD Baby is announcing its 6th annual  DIY Musician Conference, to be held on August 28-30 in Austin, Texas. While the event is still 9 months away, CD Baby wants to reward early registration by offering a low price for 2020 tickets. Early-bird tickets for 2020 are now available for just $129.

The annual DIY Musician Conference welcomes more than 1500 musicians of all ages, career stages, and walks of life engaging in actionable presentations by people like them, people who have worked for years to get music heard and to build fanbases. The event spans three days of intensive, celebratory interaction and learning, designed not to give a platform to industry talking heads, but to give artists the tools they need to leave the ballroom and change their creative lives and careers.

“CD Baby pays close attention to what our artists need,” explains Kevin Breuner of CD Baby. “We know they are often hungry for a real plan of action, for helpful advice and encouragement, not for another panel on abstract business issues facing major labels.” The focus is on accessible, actionable ideas and tips that work for musicians at a variety of career crossroads, meaningful takeaways that energize and transform.

Last year, the conference made the move from its long-time home in Nashville to Austin, where it was able to connect with a fresh community of musicians in another deeply musical Americn city. Attendees will be encouraged to take full advantage of Austin’s quirky, rootsy music scene, connecting them with artists, presenters, and other participants that reflect the city’s idiosyncratic creativity and charm.

The presentations, workshops, mentoring sessions, and jam rooms will be waiting for musicians on August 28-30, 2020 at the downtown Hilton.

Past attendees may remember, the earlier you get in on tickets, the more opportunities you'll be able to apply for. In previous years, early ticket purchases have included perks such as:

  • Showcase and open mic slots
  • Studio tours
  • One-on-one mentoring
  • Song pitch sessions
  • YouTube Studios and Spotify Sessions

2020 DIY Musician Conference
August 28-30, 2020 
The Austin Hilton
Early-bird tickets available for $129 at diymusiciancon.com.

Announcement
12/11/2019

10/16/2019, CD Baby Hires First International Representative in India, Continues Fast-Paced Global Expansion
10/16/201910/16/2019, CD Baby Hires First International Representative in India, Continues Fast-Paced Global Expansion
Announcement
10/16/2019
Announcement
10/16/2019
CD Baby is proud to announce the hiring of a notable Indian music professional to its rapidly expanding network of international representatives. It is the first large international artist services and distribution company to do so. MORE» More»

CD Baby is proud to announce the hiring of a notable Indian music professional to its rapidly expanding network of international representatives. It is the first large international artist services and distribution company to do so.

“India has some of the richest music cultures in the world and artists are eagerly looking for opportunities to share their creativity with audiences around the globe,” explains Heli Del Moral, VP of International Development at CD Baby. “We encourage artists to stay independent and to access our world-class promotion tools to help them propel their music careers. Education is a top priority for CD Baby.  Our mission in India is to simplify the process for artists and composers, and to give them the practical steps and information they need to successfully market and sell their music.”

The two hires’ life work speaks to this mission. Ritnika Nayan, with years of music business leadership and education experience, literally wrote the book on indie music in India, all while managing a large festival and her own music company. Nayan will also represent CD Baby’s sister companies, including DashGo, which offers services tailored to labels’ needs.

“I have always been passionate about the independent music scene and music education has been my focus in the last few years. I feel CD Baby is one of the few companies that genuinely shares the same vision of empowering artists,” Nayan reflects. “CD Baby is for the artists and it helps artists take control of their music, not just through digital releases, but also through education. I feel truly blessed to be able to help the indie scene in India through CD Baby, this is exactly what our country needs right now.”  

The hire marks another step forward in CD Baby’s regionalization strategy, bringing its artist-oriented support to local markets in meaningful, informed ways. “India is a huge, vibrant market and presents a great opportunity for CD Baby,” says Tracy Maddux, CEO of AVL Digital, parent company to both CD Baby and DashGo. “We believe that Ritnika is the perfect person to help us grow and learn about what artists and labels need in this diverse, intensely creative country. This is a very exciting expansion for us that marks our commitment and belief in the future of the indie music market in India.”

CD Baby currently has 19 representatives operating in 25 countries around the world.

About CD Baby

CD Baby is the largest distributor and rights administrator of independent music on the planet.  It is home to almost 750,000 artists and more than 9 million tracks, getting independent music to more than 150 digital services and platforms around the globe and allowing artists to monetize their presence on YouTube. Artists using the CD Baby platform have earned more than $730 million since its founding. Its Publishing Administration service allows over 250,000 songwriters/artists to collect all of their publishing royalties. CD Baby has become the go-to partner for many icons in the new music industry.

Announcement
10/16/2019