How to Use CD Baby | Distribution for Musicians
If you’re an unsigned artist looking to get your music on streaming platforms, a music distributor is the answer to all your problems. CD Baby is a leading name in music distribution and can turn you into a profitable musician overnight.
Music distributors bridge the gap between unsigned artists and the music market. Selling your tracks is made easy with the help of a music distributor like CD Baby, who offer services like music streaming, YouTube monetisation, sync licensing, and much more.
The more you understand about music distributors and how to use them, the more you can get out of the services they offer. This article will walk you through how to use the leading music aggregator CD Baby and explain how joining their books will kickstart your music career.
How do you distribute your music independently?
There are more opportunities than ever for independent artists to get music out there – with or without the backing of a record label or manager.
If you have high-quality, original tracks recorded and ready to go, there are lots of ways you can distribute your music independently:
- Using a music aggregator/ distributor
- Selling your music through your website
- Submitting your music to playlists/ radio channels
- Creating your own YouTube channel
- Promoting your music using your social media channels
CD Baby Artists
Though there are lots of different ways to distribute your music, using a music aggregator (also known as a music distributor) is the best way to get your songs out to as many places as possible, and make as much profit as possible.
You won’t be able to get your songs onto major streaming platforms without the help of a music distributor like CD Baby – which will drastically reduce your audience size and revenue.
Using an aggregator is still a form of independent music distribution, and you don’t need a record deal or manager to be able to use a distribution service. You simply need to sign up to CD Baby, upload your music, and you’re ready to get started.
Why choose CD Baby?
There are dozens of highly–rated digital music distribution services out there, and every aggregator will offer different services and charge different rates. So why choose CD Baby as your music distributor?
- CD Baby has been around the longest – and with age, comes experience. CD Baby has been running since 1998 and was the first independent distributor to deliver music to iTunes.
- No surprise additional charges – when you use CD Baby, you pay a one-time–only fee. You’ll be paid weekly and you won’t have to pay any additional annual fees.
- Option to sign up for physical distribution – CD Baby has teamed up with Amazon, Alliance Entertainment, and Super D so you can get your records/cd’s in stores as well as on digital streaming platforms.
- You can collect songwriter royalties – lyricists can also publish songs and earn money through CD Baby, using the Pro Publishing service.
- They offer services beyond music distribution – CD Baby offers a whole host of services to help artists promote their music and increase their revenue, including Pro Publishing and Sync Licensing.
How CD Baby works
The great perk to using a digital music aggregator is that they’ll handle the whole distribution process for you. To distribute your music through CD Baby, all you have to do is create an account and have your digital tracks ready to upload – and the online service will do the rest.
Once you’ve signed up, you can use the CD Baby dashboard to choose either a single or cd to distribute. You’ll then be asked to upload your chosen songs, choose from a list of distribution options, and make a one-time payment to the site. For more help with the submission process, consult CD Baby’s Help Centre.
Your work is then done. CD Baby will process and inspect your project upon submission and if you pass inspection, your content will then be digitally distributed to CD Baby’s partner sites and be available to stream and download.
What platforms does CD Baby distribute to?
A key factor to take into consideration when choosing your music aggregator is what platforms they distribute to. To earn the most from your music, you’ll want it to appear on the highest-ranking, most popular sites.
CD Baby distributes to every major download and streaming platform and dozens of small digital services too. To give you an idea of CD Baby’s high-calibre partners, here are some platforms they distribute to:
- Apple Music/iTunes
- Google Play
CD Baby distributes to over 150 platforms in total, and a full list of their distribution partners can be found here.
They are constantly signing new deals, and every time they sign a new partnership, they distribute your music to the new platform for no additional charge.
CD Baby store
Alongside the major streaming platforms, CD Baby also used to sell music from artists on their own digital store. Sadly, CD Baby decided to retire its music store in March 2020 to instead focus on providing musicians with their other tools and services.
Does CD Baby promote your music?
Following the closure of their digital store, CD Baby is channelling more of its resources into providing music marketing services for indie artists.
CD Baby works in partnership with lots of marketing and promotion platforms and by becoming a CD Baby client, you can get exclusive (and sometimes free) access to these third-party service’s promotional tools and resources to boost your music sales across every platform.
Here are two of CD Baby’s partner sites and the promotional perks they have to offer:
As a CD Baby client, you can access Show.co and their exclusive online marketing tools for free. The site boasts a range of promotional tools that are used by big names in the music industry like Sony and Universal.
CD Baby clients can use Show.co to:
- Launch your own Spotify pre-save campaign
- Create an interactive ad
- Grow your SoundCloud followers
- Engage fans with Spotify audio ads
- Set up banner ads on major platforms
- Premiere a YouTube video
When you become a CD Baby artist, you get exclusive access to HearNow; a one-page promotional tool that allows you to create your own promo page for your music.
HearNow is simple and inexpensive to use and the site automatically creates your promo page using your album info on your CD Baby account.
Fans can use your HearNow promo page to:
- Find and listen to your music on their preferred platform
- Stream, download or buy your music
- Access the info and audio you’ve shared on CD Baby
- Read up on you and your music
- Follow links to your other online content
What percentage does CD Baby take?
When you join CD Baby, they will distribute your music to streaming platforms where you can earn royalties on your tracks. For every royalty you make, CD Baby will take a percentage of your earnings as commission.
According to CD Baby Artist Services, the aggregator will take 9% of your download and streaming revenues, and 30% of your YouTube, Facebook, and IG collection when you submit your music as a standard submission.
If you choose to upload your music as a CD Baby Pro submission, the aggregator will take the same percentage from your revenue, plus an additional 15% cut of your publishing royalties.
CD Baby benefits
Seeing the rates aggregators charge can be off-putting, especially for independent artists who don’t have a lot of money behind them. But using a music distribution service like CD Baby is an investment – you might have to pay an upfront fee and give the aggregator a cut of your revenue, but it’ll pay out in the end.
By using CD Baby, you’ll get access to exclusive benefits that will boost your music’s performance and boost your profit at the same time. These are the perks you get when you sign up to CD Baby Standard:
- Digital distribution to 150+ platforms
- Instant verification with Spotify for Artists
- Instant verification with Apple Music for Artists
- Sync Licensing for films, TV, and games
- Free access to pre-saves and marketing tools
- Your music on Facebook and Instagram stories
- Monetisation with YouTube content ID
CD Baby Standard vs CD Baby Pro
When you release music with CD Baby, you can choose between two types of distribution bundles: CD Baby standard or CD Baby Pro.
By going pro, you’ll get access to the same features as the CD Baby Standard bundle with some exclusive additional features on top. CD Baby Pro packages include:
- Song registration with 50+ global collection agencies
- Worldwide collection of publishing royalties
- Registration as a songwriter with ASCAP, BMI, or SOCAN
- Collection of all performance and mechanical royalties you’re entitled to
If you choose to use CD Baby Pro, you’ll have to pay a higher upfront fee when you submit your music for distribution. CD Baby will also take a 15% cut of your publishing royalties, too.
CD Baby pricing
CD Baby charge artists per song or album released via their service. It currently costs $9.95 to release a single using CD Baby Standard submission, and $29 to release an album.
If you choose to release your music using CD Baby Pro, it costs $29.95 per single or $69 per album. In return for going pro, you’ll get access to full monetisation on your tracks.
CD Baby doesn’t have any additional annual charges, and the fee you pay for releasing your single/album will be a one-time payment.
A full breakdown of CD Baby’s pricing and what you get for each submission type is available here.
CD Baby reviews
A digital music distribution service can be game–changing for an unsigned artist trying to break into music.
By using an aggregator like CD Baby, you’ll get your songs onto major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube – which will open up endless opportunities to get exposure and earn money.
But if you’re still in two minds about whether CD Baby is worth the initial investment, consider this testimonial from the Grammy-Award winning “I Need a Dollar” rapper, Aloe Blacc: “CD Baby makes it super easy to drop a worldwide release on your own schedule. The best part is when you see an email with the sales statement. Then you know the music is making an impact on people.”
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long does it take CD Baby to send music to the digital distribution partners?
When you release your single or album to CD Baby, you’ll have to wait for your submission to be inspected and processed before it’s distributed. Due to high volumes of submissions during the COVID-19 pandemic, inspection can take between 1-3 weeks at the moment.
Once your submission’s been approved, CD Baby will then distribute your music immediately – but the time it takes your tracks to go live will vary from platform to platform. Your music will usually go live within a week on iTunes, while Spotify requires 5 business days to activate newly delivered content.
- How much will I earn from royalties on CD Baby?
CD Baby Pro Publishing Administration state that it’s “currently not possible to estimate royalty amounts.” This is because the royalties you earn will depend on several factors, including: the locations in which your music is used, the use of your music in broadcast, and sales of your music overseas.
- Is DistroKid better than CD Baby?
Different music distributors offer different services and deals, so there are pros and cons to using every distribution service depending on what you want to use the service for and how often you want to distribute music.
A major advantage of using CD Baby over DistroKid is their pricing models; CD Baby only charges a one-time fee per project, whereas DistroKid charge a recurring annual fee – which can become expensive if you want to keep your music out there for a long period of time.