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CD Baby

CD Baby, Inc.
Founded 1997 (1997)
Headquarters Portland, Oregon
Area served Worldwide
Founder(s) Derek Sivers
Industry Internet, online retailing, online music store
Products Compact discs, music downloads
Website CD Baby
Advertising Web banners
Available in English

CD Baby, Inc. is an online music store specializing in the sale of CDs and music downloads from independent musicians to consumers. The company is also a digital aggregator of independent music recordings, distributing content to several online music retailers.

CD Baby is one of the few sources of information on physical CD sales in the independent music industry.

CD Baby was the trading name of Hit Media, Inc., a Nevada Corporation[1] founded by Derek Sivers in 1997. Sivers sold CD Baby to Disc Makers in 2008 for what Sivers has reported to be $22 million.[2]

The firm currently operates out of Portland, Oregon.[3] CD Baby allows artists to set their price point for selling physical compact discs – CD Baby retains $4 of every CD sale, the remainder gets paid out to the artist on a weekly basis. They also charge a one-time $59 setup fee per album and $9.99 per single song.


  • History 1
    • Technical history 1.1
  • CD Baby and musicians 2
    • Artists at CD Baby 2.1
  • Statistics 3
  • In the news 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


CD Baby was founded in 1998 in Woodstock, New York, by Derek Sivers.[4] Sivers was a musician who created the website to sell his own music. As a hobby, he also began to sell the CDs of local bands and friends. Sivers originally listened to every CD he sold (currently several people are employed to do this).

Sivers, eventually hired John Steup as his vice president and first employee. Currently, there are one hundred or so employees of CD Baby whose work ranges from warehouse work to programming to business development to customer service to listening to CDs.

Sivers partnered with Oasis Disc Manufacturing[5] to distribute the complete Oasis artist roster.[6]

Although the majority of artists who use CD Baby are North American, about thirty percent of orders for CD Baby are overseas.

In 2003, Sivers won a World Technology Award for Entertainment.

In 2004, CD Baby began offering an online distribution service. By opting into their online distribution service, artists can authorize CD Baby to act on their behalf to submit music for sale to online retailers such as Apple's iTunes, Emusic, RealNetworks' Rhapsody, Napster, Amazon Music, MusicMatch, Didiom, and MusicNet, among others. Songs on CD Baby are now also available on Spotify.

In August 2008 it was announced[7] that Disc Makers, a CD and DVD manufacturer, bought CD Baby (and Host Baby) for 22 million dollars following a 7-year partnership between the two companies, according to Sivers.

Technical history

Until 2009, CD Baby ran on PHP and MySQL.[3] Sivers announced in 2005 that he was rewriting all the systems in Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL.[8][9] After about 2 years of work, he felt that the rewrite was still less than half done, and he threw the new code away and rewrote it again in his original programming language, PHP, and database, MySQL. Sivers noted that "Rails was an amazing teacher" but he concluded that PHP was up to the task once he had learned the lessons Ruby on Rails taught him.[10]

CD Baby relaunched the website with major infrastructure changes (using ASPX) to support future growth, including redundancy that protects the original material on the site in a way that initially was not available to the artists. The website is no longer being run with the original or revised PHP. The new site experienced significant glitches initially, but this did not prevent the company from continuing to pay its artists as sales were reported to CD Baby by partners and others, monies received and artist-chosen payment points reached.[11][12]

CD Baby and musicians

Artists at CD Baby

CD Baby has a catalogue of more than 350,000 albums and over two million downloadable song tracks. Music created by these acts, ranging from part-time hobbyists, to full-time musicians with successful careers, spans all genres, from avant-garde to world music. Notable artists releasing their music via CD Baby include American country acts Mary Gauthier, Gretchen Peters, Tom Russell and Anndrea Naidu, Chicago blues musicians Harmonica Hinds and Liz Mandeville, Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe, instrumental musician Michael Aguilar, UK duo Nizlopi, and, Italian-born, American classical violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Music Director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra, Russian American opera singer Elena Zoubareva, and Big Sur. American singer-songwriter Grayson Hugh sells his music on CD Baby, as well as on his website. Grammy Award-winning artist Janis Ian, a pioneer among independent musicians marketing online, sells her CDs on the website as well as through her own website.

The midwest punk rock bands Degenerates and Spite also sell their music on CD Baby.[13][14]

Hong Kong based singer Wing, best known for guest starring on an episode of South Park, also sells her music on CD Baby.[15]

World music artists who sold their albums on CD Baby also include Nelson Freitas, Kaysha, Soumia and Julio D, among others.


CD Baby statistics as of May 2013:[3]

  • Over 300,000 artists sell their music at CD Baby
  • Over 5 million CDs sold online to customers
  • $250 million+ paid directly to the artists
  • Over 400,000 albums and 3 million tracks are currently available.

In the news

  • "CD Baby Finds Success in Online Music Niche", NPR's by Marcie Sillman Morning Edition, December 28, 2004
  • "CD Baby's Unlikely Alliance with Best Buy" by Annie Baxter, NPR's Morning Edition, February 2, 2006
  • "Baby Love" by Matt Welch, LA Weekly, June 9, 2005
  • "Derek Sivers of CD Baby", Venture Voice, Show # 19
  • "It's the future, baby: How CD Baby helps indie musicians with online distribution" by Kristin Thomson, Future of Music Coalition, October 8, 2003
  • The Future of the Music Business: How to Succeed with the New Online Technologies, by Steve Gordon, Backbeat Books, 2005, ISBN 0-87930-844-3, p. 213-225 ("An Interview with Derek Sivers, Founder and President of CD Baby")


  1. ^ "Analysis of the CD Baby Distribution Agreement", Suzette Becker
  2. ^ Sivers, Derek (December 4, 2009). "Why I gave away my company to charity". Derek Sivers Trust. 
  3. ^ a b c "CD Baby: about", May 19, 2013
  4. ^ Sivers, Derek (2011). Anything You Want. United States of America: Do You Zoom, Inc. p. 1.  
  5. ^ Soloman, Micah. "Oasis Disc Manufacturing (Choose a package that radiates quality and eco-friendliness!)". Oasis. 
  6. ^ Soloman, Micah. "Sell your music worldwide with CD Baby". Oasis. 
  7. ^ CD Baby sold to Disc Makers
  8. ^ "CD Baby rewrite in Postgres and Ruby, Baby!", January 22, 2005
  9. ^ "Migrating to Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL: An Interview with CD Baby", November 2, 2005
  10. ^ "7 reasons I switched back to PHP after 2 years on Rails", September 22, 2007
  11. ^ "Wednesday Updates (customer browsing, online payments, uploader, and more)", July 30, 2009
  12. ^ "Friday Update (iTunes Australia, uploader, accounting, etc.)", July 30, 2009
  13. ^ CD Baby Online Records "Spite: The Emotion Not the Point". (website).
  14. ^ CD Baby Online Records "degenerates: degenerates". (website).
  15. ^ "About Wing". Wingmusic. June 30, 2015. 

External links

  • CD Baby (retail store)
  • CD (information for musicians)
  • CD Baby Members
  • Hostbaby (webhosting)
  • CD Baby Podcast (indie music business talk show)
  • Oasis Disc Manufacturing
  • CD Baby @ Oasis Tools of Promotion page
  • CD Duplication
  • Disc Makers CD & DVD Manufacturing
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