Introducing CD Baby Pro

April 16, 2013{ 57 Comments }

Collect Publishing Royalties for Your Original MusicCD Baby Pro revolutionizes how artists get paid for their original music

Since 1998, it’s been our mission to help independent artists build a career on their own terms.  This is why we’re very excited to announce a new service that gives independent musicians more control — and more ways to make money from their original music.

CD Baby Pro represents a huge step forward, giving independent artists the ability to collect both international and US royalties they were previously denied, while still retaining 100% of the rights to their music.

The concept is simple: every time a song is purchased, streamed, or played in a public setting (including radio, TV, internet, venues, and more), the songwriter/composer is owed a publishing royalty. But until now, it’s been nearly impossible for independent artists to collect all these royalties on their own. We created CD Baby Pro to solve this problem and make it easy for artists to get paid what they deserve.

Here’s how it works

* We affiliate the artist as a songwriter with ASCAP or BMI. (Already affiliated? Not a problem! CD Baby Pro benefits you too.)

* We register the artist’s original songs with ASCAP, BMI, and all the collection agencies around the world.

* We collect the global publishing royalties on the artist’s behalf.

We believe CD Baby Pro is the beginning of something truly revolutionary for independent artists. Musicians can now claim royalties that were previously only paid to the big publishing houses and major labels — including international and US mechanical royalties. Artists can capitalize on a service that reaches far beyond the local Performing Rights Organizations to collect online streaming royalties, foreign download royalties, satellite radio, and more.

Already affiliated with ASCAP or BMI? 

Not a problem. CD Baby Pro can benefit you too. We’ll register your songs worldwide (something that performing rights organizations will not do), so you’ll be sure to collect maximum performance royalties. Plus, we’ll collect your mechanical royalties for international downloads and worldwide plays on streaming sites like Spotify and Rdio that are growing in popularity every day.

Go Pro today and earn the most money from your music!

CD Baby Pro is now available for all US-based artists. It costs just $99 per album and $39 per single.*

For existing CD Baby artists, CD Baby Pro is now available as an add-on. The upgrade to CD Baby Pro takes minutes to complete and costs $59 per album or $39 per single.

* CD Baby Pro also includes CD Baby’s full arsenal of distribution and promotion services.

You never know when, where, and how your music will take off — so make sure you’re prepared to capture maximum revenue from your original songs.

Earn the most money from your music with CD Baby Pro.

Guide: Make More Money From Your Music

  • Would this also take the place of being registered with SoundExchange?

    • Hey Leigh, no. You should still register with SoundExchange — especially because a portion of what they pay out goes to performers and the owner of the sound recording (label). Traditional publishing royalties like mechanicals and performance royalties get paid to the writers and publisher.

      So — to simplify: SoundExchange is all about the master recording and the people who took part in creating it. CD Baby Pro is all about songwriters and publishers.


  • I'm registered with BMI, as a songwriter and publisher, and with SoundExchange. Also in the process of registering with Sacem for Europe, as I learned my royalties take a hit from there on their way to BMI. Would you please let me know what this would collect for me that the above don't? Thanks!

    • So if you're registered as a writer AND publisher with BMI, then they'll have you covered for much of your performance royalties. Most independent artists aren't set up properly as a publisher with one of the P.R.O.s. So in terms of performance royalties, we'd be collecting the publisher's share (50%) for artists.

      But the benefit to you — since you're already getting your writer's and publisher's share — is in mechanical royalties. We'll collect foreign and US mechanicals for you. This includes mechanical royalties for on-demand streams through services like Spotify and Rdio, and mechanicals for international download purchases.

      SoundExchange is a separate issue from all of the above, because they're concerned with the sound recording (those who performed on the track, and the entity that owns the particular recording), not the publishing royalties (which go to writer and publisher).

      Hope that helps clarify things. Let us know if you have any more questions.


  • There are two big benefits to you going with CD Baby Pro.

    First, we're going to go out and make sure your songs are listed properly with all the collection agencies around the world. BMI is not going to do this for you.

    The second and even bigger benefit is that, unless you've set up and maintain a publishing company, you are not getting paid the publishing side of your royalties from BMI. Even if you have your own publishing company, it's really a vanity publishing company. Meaning, no one is actually going out and doing administrative work to make sure you get paid — especially on the mechanical royalties side of the equation.

    Without CD Baby Pro, your foreign mechanicals are inaccessible. Your mechanicals from Spotify streams are lost. And as Spotify gains popularity, you'll want your music setup to capture all that.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.


  • Through ASCAP, you're earning the songwriter's share of your performance royalties. With CD Baby Pro, we'll pay you the OTHER HALF (the publisher's share) of those performance royalties. In addition to performance royalties, we'll collect mechanical royalties (which P.R.O.s do not collect) for international downloads and US and international streams (Spotify, Rdio, etc.).

    We work with hundreds of collection societies around the world – and they have various methods for tabulating royalties (some use cue sheets, some use sample data, etc.), but we collect from all of them and pay to you. We take a 15% cut.


  • Hey Clara,

    If you're truly set up as a publisher with BMI, then you are most likely earning both shares (the songwriter's 50% and the publisher's 50%) of your performance royalties. But in many instances, writers just kind of set up a vanity publishing company — and the P.R.O.s aren't going to really do much work on your behalf to get those royalties for you. That's one of the benefits of CD Baby Pro.

    Regarding mechanicals, if you don't plan on offering your music through SPotify and other streaming services — then those mechanicals are a moot point, but your international mechanicals for downloads can really add up. It's not equal to what you get paid for the download itself, but you never know which songs are going to take off and sell well — and it's best to be prepared to capture those royalties.
    Hope that helps.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.



  • This is so cool, I'm telling my friends in the great Philly band Kremlin Korps to get up & do this NOW!!! THANKS CD BABY!!! YOU RULE!!!
    Lenny Bandoch

  • The short answer is yes. Spotify pays artists/labels per stream, and that money goes to the distributors (in your case, CD Baby) and then gets passed on to you. However, they also owe mechanical royalties for every track streamed. And that money was NOT getting paid to most independent artists, because there was no entity (such as a large publishing house, big label, or Harry Fox Agency) muscling in to fight for independents. So that money went uncollected — until now. CD Baby will collect mechanical royalties not just from Spotify and other domestic streaming services, but also international download retailers as well. Plus, we'll collect and pay you the publishing share of your performance royalties globally (which is 50% of publishing royalties that generally goes uncollected by songwriters).


  • Nope. We'll take care of that — both the general affiliation as a songwriter AND the registration of all your tracks. Then you will be able to collect the songwriter's share of your performance royalties directly from ASCAP, and CD Baby will collect the publishing share of your performance royalties, as well as any mechanical royalties owed from streaming service or international download retailers.


  • Yes. SESAC and SOCAN members can sign up for CD Baby Pro as well. Basically, you will continue using SESAC for the collection of the songwriter's share of your performance royalties. But CD Baby will collect the publisher's share for you.


  • What about SOCAN affiliates?

    • You can still use CD Baby Pro. SOCAN will continue to collect and pay you for the songwriter's share of your performance royalties, and CD Baby will collect and pay you for the publisher's share of performance royalties. Plus, we'll collect mechanical royalties for you, including streaming services like Spotify and international downloads.


  • If you're affiliated with SESAC, you can still sign up for CD Baby Pro. SESAC will continue to collect and pay you for the songwriter's share of performance royalties, and we'll collect and pay you the publisher's share of global performance royalties, plus mechanical royalties for global streams and international downloads.


  • I can dig it!

  • As with most things — "There ain't no guarantees." But the benefit of CD Baby Pro is that you're set up to collect maximum royalties for your music for the rest of your life, not just for an album cycle. And nowadays the concept of an album cycle is obsolete. Music gets discovered in radically different ways now, and songs that had limited to no exposure upon release can become big years later through a sync placement, or some foreign buzz, or whatever. And suddenly you're generating money from one of your songs you'd probably forgotten about. That's why it's important that indie artists these days make their entire catalogs work for them — not just their latest set of tracks. And with that new model in mind, in terms of how artists can make money, CD Baby Pro helps set you up so you're prepared to capture all that potential revenue — including the publisher's share of your performance royalties and all mechancals for streams on sites like Spotify, and international downloads.

    So, basically, CD Baby Pro is a service that can't and won't promise to make you rich. But in the event that your songs are generating publishing royalties, we CAN promise to fight for you and collect every dime you're owed from around the world. And through widening sync and micro-sync opportunities, viral videos on YouTube, and the growing popularity of Spotify and Rdio, it's becoming more and more likely that independent artists will generate significant publishing royalties.

    Hope that helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.


  • Linda Vee Sado

    If we sing up an album, do you collect retroactive royalties or just ones from the sign up date on.


    • Well, we can only ensure royalties from here on out, but — there is a chance that collection societies are still holding royalties from the recent past, in which case, we'll collect 'em and pay to the artist.


  • Nope. Sorry. You have to be a "US person" (according to the IRS — so citizen of greencard-holder) to register for ASCAP. We do have plans to make CD Baby Pro an international service (and we would work with your local PRO – GEMA, in your case). But it's in the early stages, so I can't give an ETA.


  • We're going to make CD Baby Pro an international program eventually, and at that point we'll work with your local performing rights organization. But it's in the early stages right now, so I can't really give an ETA.


  • Yes, we do. We're working on making CD Baby Pro an international service — at which point we'd work with your local performing rights organizations. But it's in the early phases still, so I can't give a good ETA. But I'm sure we'll shout it from the rooftops when it's near.


  • Nice, thanks

  • A few things:

    1) SoundExchange focuses on collecting royalties associated with the master recording — and paying those royalties to the people who created that particular recording: performers, the label that owns the recording, etc.

    So you should absolutely sign up with SoundExchange.

    2) You should also absolutely be signed up with a P.R.O. like ASCAP, as they'll be collecting the songwriter's share of your performance royalties.

    But CD Baby Pro will benefit you because we'll register your songs worldwide and make sure you're getting paid ALL the performance royalties you're owed (including the publisher's share — 50% of your owed performance royalties). Most PROs only throw their administrative muscle around for major labels and big publishing houses, so even if you've set up a vanity publishing company to try to collect the publisher's share of performance royalties, there is ZERO guarantee that you'll ever see that money, unless you use a service like CD Baby Pro, or spend hundreds, maybe thousands of hours communicating with many international royalty collection societies.

    The other area where CD Baby Pro helps out is with mechanical royalties (something that P.R.O.'s don't collect at all). So we'll make sure you get paid the mechanicals you're owed for international download purchases and global on-demand streams on popular sites like Spotify and Rdio.

    Hope that helps clarify the service a bit. If you have any other questions, let us know.


  • So the mechanical royalties will only come to us if we pay for pro?

    • Yes, in order for CD Baby to act as your publishing administrator and collect publishing royalties for you, you'd have to sign up for Pro.


  • You haven't been missing out on any royalties for domestic downloads.

    Essentially, in the US, the burden is on the artist/label to pay the appropriate mechanical royalties for digital downloads (called "DPDs") — which are the same rate as for physical media — 9.1 cents per unit "reproduced." So if you cover a Bob Dylan song on your album and press 1000 copies, you owe Bob Dylan and his publishing company $91 for manufacturing 1000 physical copies of his song.

    In the digital world, where "duplication" is more virtual — you still owe a mechanical royalty on every song sold. But again, the burden is on YOU to pay it.

    So if you're covering Bob Dylan, you arrange with his publisher (or with an administrator like Harry Fox or Limelight) to pay those royalties. If you're recording and releasing your own music, then you are essentially paying YOURSELF the mechanical royalty for all those sales.

    So let's say you have a song that sells on iTunes. They pay us. We pay you. And then you (as the label) pay the songwriter/publisher (also probably YOU) 9.1 cents for that mechanical royalty. Does that make sense? It's all a bit virtual when you're releasing your own music — because you can do with the money whatever you like. And for US sales, that money is going straight to you.

    So that is in the US. In most other countries, the mechanical royalties are generally paid to the songwriter/publisher by the retailer. However, they only pay those royalties to publishing administrators like Harry Fox or Limelight. And unfortunately, Harry Fox won't work directly with indie artists — only the big publishing houses/major labels. Thus, CD Baby Pro — we've negotiated to act as a publishing administrator for our artists so we can make sure they're getting paid what they're owed, and not falling victim to the outdated rules that benefited the old label system to the exclusion of everyone else.

    So if you've had foreign downloads, you WERE owed money, but it may've gone uncollected because you didn't have a publishing administrator like Harry Fox to make sure you got paid. That's one of the ways CD Baby Pro can really benefit indie artists. We'll make sure they get all the royalties they're owed.

    As for streaming services, yes — you're still owed a mechanical royalty, but it's a lot less than the 9.1 cents per DPD (digital download). The logic is that streaming is, in a way, an on-demand, momentary duplication of a song. The customer doesn't get to "keep" the file, so the mechanical owed isn't nearly what it would be for an a-la-carte download, but you're still owed something from that momentary duplication (stream).

    The mechanical royalty for streams is owed to you from both domestic AND international streaming companies. However, the streaming world is just starting to come out of its Wild West phase, and becoming more civilized as the law is being interpreted.
    Because of this, they don't all have a uniform payment methodology for mechanical royalties.

    Rhapsody, for instance, does pay out the mechanical like a regular retailer. Instead, they wrap the mechanical royalty into the actual payment for the stream (so you HAVE been getting paid mechanicals from Rhapsody through CD Baby already). but Spotify and Rdio do not do that. We have to go to them and get it from them as if we're a publishing administrator.

    Hope all this makes sense. Let me know if you have more questions.


  • I have 3 albums with CD Baby and am affiliated with ASCAP as both writer and publisher. I don't know for sure if all three albums are listed with them. Will CD BABY PRO double-check all this information with ASCAP?

    • Yes, we'll make sure your songs are properly registered so that you'll get paid all the performance royalties you're owed.


  • Correct. Currently, CD Baby Pro is only available for US-based artists, but we have plans to expand that internationally in the near future. CD Baby's regular global distribution services are available worldwide.


  • Hey Rony,

    SoundExchange isn't collecting publishing portion of mechanical royalties. The royalties they pay out are separate from publishing; they have to do with the sound recording itself, so the money gets paid to the creators and owners of specific sound recordings (session players, labels, etc.).

    However, you're right to wonder where those uncollected mechanicals were going all those years, since Harry Fox doesn't deal directly with indie artists.

    I'll get back to you later today or early next week with the answer.


  • Hey J,

    Yes indeed. We're working on it. Will keep you posted when CD Baby Pro is available for "international" artists.


  • Well, currently, CD Baby Pro is only available for US-based artists, but we do have plans to expand internationally in the near future. At that point, we'd work with GEMA and many other collection societies around the world to make sure you're getting paid not just the writer's share of your performance royalties, but also the publisher's share — globally — plus collect your mechanical royalties for non-US downloads and mechanical royalties for global and US streams on popular sites like Spotify and Rdio.


  • Hey Rony,

    Nope. I just hadn't gotten around to approving comments until now. I answered the first part of your question. We're getting clarification on the second part today. I want to make sure we have the absolute facts before I badmouth anyone about strange practices that cause royalties to go "uncollected." ; )


  • We'll do our best!


  • Sorry. Not yet. But we are working to make it an international program in the near future. Will keep you posted!


  • Hey Ozem,

    Yes. We take a 15% cut for our royalty collection service — helping us cover the costs of all the administrative work (PRO affiliation, song registration with many collection societies worldwide, collecting and distributing revenue, etc.).

    As for us being a middleman, that is true from a technical standpoint. We're an entity in-between you and your royalties. BUT… we're the entity that's making it possible for you to collect those royalties, because agencies like Harry Fox won't work directly with independent artists. So without that middleman, your mechanical royalties for international downloads and global streams would be impossible for you to collect on your own — and PROs like ASCAP and BMI don't collect mechanical royalties, only performance royalties. We'll also make sure you get paid ALL the performance royalties you're owed (both the songwriter and publisher share) very quickly, because we register you directly with collection societies around the world — as opposed to PROs that have a reciprocal collection agreement (and can sometimes take years to receive payments).

    So those are the big benefits of CD Baby Pro: total global coverage, access to mechanical royalties you wouldn't be able to get on your own, and speedy collection and payments!

    Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, just let us know.



    • Ozem Goldwire

      Thank you very much, Chris! This means so much to me. No matter what others said to me, I'm sticking to this method with CDBaby Pro; definitely!
      Once again, I thank you very much! 😉

      • Awesome. Glad to hear it. We'll make sure you're set up to collect all those various publishing revenues. Feel free to holler, of course, if you have any other questions.



  • Conrad

    Available for US residents only? whats this about? I am not from the US..i want to register with Pro

  • Hey there,

    In many countries, the mechanical royalty is set as a percentage of the retail price. So, for instance — if you had 1000 iTunes downloads in Europe of original material, you'd be missing out on about $90. Streams would be less, of course — and that rate is different in different countries.

    If you feel like your PRO is doing everything they can for you in terms of publishing administration, and if you don't think the international mechanicals will add up to much, then CD Baby Pro may not be right for you.

    But the benefit of Pro is that in one-swoop, you've covered yourself to collect all the publishing monies you're owed, including those that your PROs are not mandated to collect for you.

    Hope that helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.


  • Hey Mike,

    Well, ASCAP and BMI certainly play an essential role in the performance royalty collection process — and we are affiliating CD Baby Pro artists with either of those performing rights organizations as part of our royalty collection process, too.

    That being said, CD Baby Pro solves a few problems:

    1) For those who aren't already affiliated (or who haven't registered their songs) — we save you a ton of paperwork. Instead of spending a bunch of time on ASCAP or BMI's websites, scratching your head — we've folded that affiliation and song registration process into the CD Baby registration process and it takes minutes at most to complete.

    2) We register your songs directly with collection societies around the world in order to ensure that no royalties are going unclaimed or falling through the cracks. This is the exact reason why many major labels and big publishers set up sub-publishing entities in foreign territories, because they don't want to leave their international publishing administration up to the US PROs . CD Baby Pro plays that same role — making sure all the publisher's share of your performance royalties gets collected and paid to you.

    3) Performance royalties only account for 30-35% of the total publishing royalties — and PROs only collect performance royalties. So if you leave it entirely to ASCAP or BMI, you're missing out on mechanicals for international downloads, and for global streaming.

    Hope that helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.


  • Hey Steve,

    SoundExchange collects royalties that based on performance of a particular sound recording. So those are separate from traditional publishing royalties, since they get paid to performers, session players, labels, etc. (People and entities that had to do with the creation of a particular recording).

    Publishing royalties are paid to the songwriter and publisher. But as for Spotify, they actually owe two kinds of publishing royalties, a performance royalty AND a mechanical royalty whenever someone clicks that play button for a song on their service. We'll make sure you get paid both royalties.

    And to be literal about your last point, yes: you CAN collect all your own royalties. BUT… it's a matter of time vs. money. In order to properly handle your own publishing administration work, you're going to be spending hundreds, if not thousands of hours filling out forms, making calls, etc. And when it comes to international royalty collection, now you're talking about making calls and needing translators, filling out forms that aren't in English, etc. Then if you decide to just leave it all to your PRO of choice (ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, etc.), you're missing out entirely on mechanical royalties for international downloads and both international and domestic streams — because PROs only collect performance royalties.

    Hope that helps. Let us know if you have any other questions. CD Baby Pro is a simple solution to a very complex problem, and we really want to make sure we're doing our best to convey its true value to artists.



  • If you're getting the publisher's share of your performance royalties from bigger international markets through BMI, then you've probably got most of your performance royalty bases covered. In that case, the biggest benefit of CD Baby Pro is that we'll collect your mechanical royalties — which BMI will not collect for you. And those include international mechanical royalties for downloads outside of the US (a different rate in each country, but oftentimes it's about 10% of the retail price of the download — so roughly 9 cents per song). And also mechanical royalties for streams on sites like Spotify and Rdio — both in the US and globally.


  • We've spent a lot of time creating this service because we feel like it is a simple solution to a complex problem — making sure indie artists can collect ALL their publishing royalties, not just the portion of publishing royalties paid out by ASCAP and BMI. But given the complexity of the global publishing industry, we want to make sure we're clearly communicating the value of CD Baby Pro to artists.

    ASCAP and BMI most definitely do serve an essential role in the process for collecting performance royalties. Part of the CD Baby Pro signup process includes us affiliating you with one of those PROs and registering your songs with them.

    But we also register your songs directly with collection societies around the world (no reciprocal agreement that involves access to a database of represented tunes — but direct registration of songs). So this ensures that none of your international performance royalties fall through the cracks. I might add that many big artists and publishers ending up setting up sub-publishing companies in those foreign territories for this exact reason, because they don't want to leave the international collection up to the US PROs; they want to register directly.

    Perhaps the biggest benefit to CD Baby Pro, though, is that we will collect your mechanical royalties too. PROs do NOT collect mechanicals, and unless you've collected them yourself (which is difficult almost to the point of impossibility), those royalties just sit there uncollected.

    With CD Baby Pro, we'll act as your publishing administrator and go get that money for you, including mechanicals for international downloads and mechanicals for domestic AND global streams. If people are purchasing and streaming your music in other countries, those mechanicals can really add up. With CD Baby Pro, we'll collect it for you.


  • Hey John,

    Yes, with BMI, you can click the box and notify them that if you don't have a publishing company set up, the 50% of the publishing share should flow to the writer — and BMI does a great job collecting performance royalties for their affiliated writers. (After all, part of the CD Baby Pro signup process involves affiliation with either BMI or ASCAP).

    The benefit of CD Baby Pro is that we'll register your songs directly with collection societies around the world — so you'll be sure you're getting all the international performance royalties you're owed. Lots of big labels and publishers have established sub-publishing companies in foreign regions for this exact reason — because they don't want to chance it and let anything fall through the cracks. The direct relationship with collection societies ensures nothing will go uncollected.

    Plus, we'll collect mechanicals that PROs are NOT collecting for you (because it's not their job). These include mechanicals for international downloads and global streams.


  • You guys at CDBaby, should take care more of Italian artists and you'll surely will earn lot of money.
    Italian artists HAVE to register with SIAE: it costs 200 EURO for the registering and then an annual fee of about 100 EUR for every year that will come.

    Also, people who want to print CDs in Italy HAVE to pay another fee to SIAE for each (even if the CDs are for personal use), otherwise the CD factory is not authorised to print your CDs.
    And also… for what I know they do not collect anything from small local radio stations because they only take consideration of the first 100 most aired artists for each single local radio station.
    ALSO.. to register a song with SIAE you HAVE to provide TABS for the vocals and the main melody of the song, otherwise they will not accept the registering (they don't accept files or CDs).
    If you call the customer service (because they DON'T accept emails) they are not able to reply to the artist questions, telling that all the rules are written on the SIAE website…
    Do you need more reasons to start caring about Italian artists?
    I bet many of us will easily convert from SIAE to other services.

    • Ouch. Sounds like a nightmare. Well, we have plans to expand CD Baby Pro beyond the US — and we'll keep you posted, for sure.


  • Concerning mechanical royalties, we'll be able to collect all your mechanical royalties going back in time — because it's based on hard sales data. As for performance royalties, the only thing we can promise is "from here on out." That being said, some collection societies may be holding uncollected royalties from the recent past — and it's possible they'll make them available to you.


  • Hey Phil,

    Yes it will. But I don't have an ETA. We're working on it right now, though. We'll keep you posted for sure when it's available outside the US. Thanks for your interest!


  • Well, the good news about foreign mechanicals is that there is hard sales data to go on — so we'll be able to go back and collect all your uncollected mechanical royalties. As for "where it went" … we hope that it's still sitting in a safe with your name on it, so to speak. But even if it's not, it's owed to you, and there are sales records to prove it, which means we'll get your money for you.


  • The letter of direction would tell ASCAP that CD Baby is now acting as your publishing administrator, and we'd be collecting the publisher's share of your performance royalties for you. The songwriter's share of your performance royalties would continue to be paid to you directly from ASCAP.

    And then any additional royalties we collect (mechanicals for international downloads or mechanicals for streaming) would be paid to you by CD Baby.


  • Well, we don't have an ROI calculator, and the mechanical payments are different from country to country. But according to this interview with Justin Kalifowitz of SongTrust ( you could estimate about 5-10 cents per international download.


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