How has the indie music biz changed in the last 20 years?

CD Baby artist revenue, then and now

20 years ago, CD Baby revolutionized the independent music industry, giving artists without a label their first chance to reach a worldwide audience on their own terms while maintaining all the ownership of their music.

Two decades later and we’ve broken down many more barriers for independent musicians, including:

  • global distribution
  • publishing rights administration
  • YouTube and Facebook monetization
  • sync licensing
  • online music marketing
  • and more

Thank you to all the musicians who’ve entrusted us with one of the most important things in their lives: their own music.

CD Baby’s 20th Anniversary Infographic

These images show the 20-year history of what we’ve been able to do with and for the artists that use CD Baby, how the methods of music monetization have changed over two decades, and much more.

[Note: Full infographic at the bottom.]

CD Baby’s catalog and payouts

First, a quick look at the size of both our distribution and publishing catalogs (now representing the largest collection of songwriters in the world!), plus the revenue we’ve paid to artists for sales, streams, sync fees, YouTube ad revenue, publishing royalties, and more:

20 years of CD Baby distribution

Geography and genre

We have one of the largest and most diverse catalogs of music in the world. CD Baby clients come from 215 territories/countries around the globe, and make music in more than 850 different genres:

The breadth of CD Baby's music catalog

Changes in digital distribution revenue from 2011 to 2017

This graph shows how music consumption habits have shifted dramatically in the past 5 years, as streaming adoption increased and the popularity of downloads decreased:

Digital distribution revenue from 2011 to today

Streaming revenue as a percentage of total artist payout

How big a part does streaming play in the overall revenue picture of a modern musician, and in CD Baby’s total revenue payouts? This graph shows that streaming is generating big money for artists. In 2017 our total revenue payout was more than double what it was in 2009, and the percentage that streaming comprised of that total payout went from 1.7% to 58%.

Streaming revenue as a percentage of total revenue payout

A timeline of CD Baby milestones

Here’s a full infographic containing everything above, plus some highlights from our 20-year history!

CD Baby's 20 year history of independent music advocacy