CD Baby, a pioneer in the indie music scene and a stalwart in the music industry, has decided to wave goodbye to physical products, becoming a fully digital music distributor starting June 22, 2023. Musicians and influencers who use the service have the option to pay shipping or have their products recycled.
Born in the dot-com boom era, CD Baby has always been ahead of its time. Its launch in 1998 marked a new era for indie artists, providing them with an opportunity to reach audiences without the need for major label contracts. By being one of iTunes Store’s launch partners, CD Baby played a crucial role in making digital music a viable alternative to physical products.
With this shift, the company will cease warehousing, shipping, and distributing physical items such as CDs, vinyl records, and DVDs across all channels. Existing artists with physical inventories at CD Baby will be notified and provided with options to either retrieve their remaining inventory or have it recycled, a decision they need to make within a 60-day time frame.
The decision to go fully digital is in line with the company’s ethos of aligning with the future of digital music. In a world increasingly dominated by streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music, CD Baby’s decision marks a milestone in the evolution of the digital music industry.
During its long run, CD Baby was acquired twice. First by Disc Makers for $22 million, and then by Downtown, a music publishing firm for $200 million. These acquisitions spanning decades saw the trends in cassettes and vinyl increasing with younger listeners. By their 20th anniversary, CD Baby announced it had paid over $600 million to artists by 2017. Adding in the recent years, one can easily calculate CD Baby has paid out over a billion dollars to artists.
In its letter to artists, CD Baby reaffirmed its commitment to help them distribute, market, and earn from their music. The company, which has assisted artists in selling CDs, vinyl, cassettes, and DVDs for the past 25+ years, is eager to write the next chapter in its history and in the wider music industry.