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CD Baby Reaches $1 Billion Artist Payout Milestone

Launched in 1998, the distribution platform is now home to over 1 million artists worldwide.

Indie distributor, publisher and artist services platform CD Baby has paid out over $1 billion to artists since its founding in 1998, the company tells Billboard. The platform is currently home to more than 1 million independent artists worldwide and has distributed over 10 million tracks.

CD Baby offers a suite of self-promotion tools for independent musicians, including its digital music marketing platform Show.co, which the company acquired in 2016. It also boasts partnerships with a variety of music and social platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music, which have both named CD Baby as a preferred distribution partner.

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In touting the $1 billion figure, CD Baby — whose parent company AVL Digital Group was acquired by Downtown Music Holdings in May 2019 — notes that the independent music sector accounted for 43.1% of the total global music market by ownership in 2020, representing over $9.8 billion in revenue, according to a report published by MIDiA Research in October 2021.

“Through Downtown, we are a group of businesses with specialties that span across the industry,” says CD Baby president Joel Andrew of how the acquisition helped accelerate CD Baby’s growth. “Together, we are much stronger at fostering the success of musicians on their own terms.”

CD Baby’s relationship with Downtown started in 2014 when the company partnered with Downtown’s Songtrust to launch CD Baby Pro, a service that interfaces with performance rights organizations to collect royalties for U.S.-based artists.

In a statement, Downtown CEO Andrew Bergman said, “As business partners since 2014, we appreciated the depth of CD Baby’s organization and its incredibly loyal client base, two key drivers of our acquisition. With CD Baby now leveraging resources across Downtown’s platform, including technology, royalty collection, global licensing operations and capital, we are able to drive equity and innovation to all creators at an accelerated pace.”

CD Baby artist Rebecca Black tells Billboard that the platform “has always provided me a really reliable way to put my music out to major DSPs as an independent artist over the course of my career. Music distribution & releases can be a really confusing and daunting thing to understand on your own but they’ve made the process so much more approachable.”

Notably, CD Baby’s digital music distribution rivals TuneCore and DistroKid are also thriving, with the former reaching the $1 billion payout milestone in 2017. DistroKid, meanwhile, was valued at $1.3 billion following an investment by Insight Partners in August.