Why CD Baby makes the most sense for artists building a catalog over their whole lifetime.
When I attend music conferences, I get asked a lot, “Why should I choose CD Baby?”
My answer usually begins with, “Well, beyond the initial setup fee, we only make money when you do. We’re not going to ask for another $50 per album every year for the rest of your life just so you can keep your music available online.”
Our model gives you a worry-free way of building (and distributing) a catalog of albums and singles over a lifetime.
There are many companies that distribute independent music… (but) I always use CDBaby without question – here’s why:
- CDBaby is the only company that shares the risk of your release with you.
The biggest barrier to artists succeeding in their business is the risk they take when paying to produce and market their music. Finding a company (or any group) that is willing to share that risk, and thereby reduce it, is invaluable … unless you have the backing of a record company that is willing to do it for you.
But what does this look like? What do I mean “share your risk”?
Well, unlike companies that charge (an annual) flat fee for service, CDBaby shares only in your profits. You make money, they make money. You get nothing, they get nothing. There’s a great example of the difference in digital distribution services. The key thing you need to understand is the concept of a Product Life Cycle, and the fact that each of your CD releases has one. EVERY CD release has one – Emimem’s, Beyonce’s, Coldplay’s, Gaga’s, … every CD release starts with no sales, rises to a peak, and then falls away again. Sometimes, the peak arrives in a week or two, sometimes it takes six months to arrive … (some, like mine, never peak) … but the fall away again is inevitable.
So, what does this mean for Indies? Well, it means that at first your digital distribution costs will be bigger than your income from sales … and then you should make something from sales … but (with other distributors) your album will probably spend an eternity costing you money! The graph looks like this:
On the other hand, if you choose the CD Baby approach, you will ALWAYS make something from your release – even is it’s 91% of bugger-all. Yes, at your peak CD Baby will cost you more than the flat fee model will … assuming you make that much … but over the following 20 years, it will cost a hell of a lot less. The graph looks like this:
Now, I have no problem whatsoever paying someone who’s done a great service for me – especially if they have made nothing in all the time that I’ve made nothing. That’s called a true partnership – you win, I win. The companies that charge a flat fee are saying that they want to get paid no matter what happens to you – they don’t care whether you succeed or fail! That’s perfectly legitimate business, but it’s not sharing your risk and it’s not helping you in all the time that your releases don’t make their minimum.
I’ll take the sharing approach every time … and I’m happy to give back when it finally works for me.
Thanks to Huge for the detailed explanation of why CD Baby’s model makes the most sense for independent artists.