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Spotify, Apple Music Helped CD Baby Artists Earn Over $100 Million In 2018

For independent artists looking to easily distribute their music, CD Baby has been a go-to for over 20 years. And while the company was born and raised in the compact disc era, it's successfully navigating the age of streaming, according to an announcement this week from CD Baby's Chris Robley.

Robley shared that CD Baby artists earned "well over" $100 million in 2018, which represents a 25% increase over 2017 when artists earned $80.1 million.

Industry analysts are pointing to two strategic opportunities that CD Baby was able to leverage this past year that helped fuel the increase in artist payouts: exclusive deals with Spotify and Apple Music.

Artists can use whatever approved distributor they want to get their music on the streaming platforms, but Spotify revealed in October that it would have five preferred distributors: CD Baby, Distrokid, EmuBands, The Orchard and FUGA.

That partnership meant that CD Baby users would be instantly eligible for Spotify for Artists, which allows independent artists to upload their music directly to Spotify.

Apple Music followed suit last year with its own preferred artist distributors, naming CD Baby, as well as The Orchard and Kontor New Media, as "Preferred Plus" partners.

The $100 million number comes from various sources, Robley outlines, including streaming and download revenue, CD and vinyl sales, social video monetization on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, sync licensing, publishing administration (for both performance and mechanical royalties), the “label” share of licensed, non-interactive streaming royalties and other sources.

"We’re expecting to pay out even more for the coming year as we open up new opportunities and expand existing ways of 'monetizing' music," Robley said.

Currently, CD Baby says it distributes 750,000 artists and over 9 million tracks. The company also publishes 170,000 songwriters and more than 1 million songs, representing artists in over 200 territories worldwide.