A few months back, Spotify listed CD Baby among the preferred artist distributors and label distributors. Apple Music followed suit, listing CD Baby as what they term as its ‘Preferred Plus’ distribution partners. Together, Spotify and Apple Music Helped CD Baby artists earn over $100 mn in 2018. CD Baby managed to contribute almost a sixth of these global indie-artist recorded music revenues. According to Tracy Maddux, CEO, CD Baby, this was made possible by “providing the gold standard in distribution, monetization and promotion services for artists worldwide.”
But with Spotify now allowing artists to directly upload their songs on their platform, how will US-based CD Baby, which started as an online CD store in 1998 and now represents over 750,000 recording artists, 170,000 songwriters, and over 9 mn tracks across 800+ genres, be affected?
“Spotify has not yet rolled its direct upload portal beyond its beta users. If and when it does, artists are welcome to choose that pathway to monetize their music on Spotify. However, Spotify has less than 10% share of the world market share” said Tracy Maddux, CEO CD Baby, adding, “There is no better service than CD Baby to reach the other 90% of fans worldwide including other popular streaming services like Apple Music, YouTube, Deezer, Amazon, Pandora, Saavn, Hungama, Tencent, Netease, et cetera.”
Google and Amazon had opened portals similar to Spotify’s in the past but failed. Apple is still testing waters by allowing ‘Invitation only’ direct uploads. If other streaming platforms do follow Spotify’s footsteps, would aggregators be required to change their business model to compete in this market?
“We believe that aggregators should always be working to improve their platforms to deliver more value, such as offering publishing services and promotional applications” opines Maddux.
Having said that he also feels that having a single gateway to every streaming service in the world is more critical and valuable to artists than artists having to upload and collect their works to every streaming service in the world.
The company was formed with an aim to be the link between independent musicians and consumers. Now in this day and age, when streaming platforms are taking over the music industry, is it important for an artist to reach out to a music label? The disparity in the fees of the various music labels notwithstanding, is it financially viable for an artiste to go independent?
“Artists can assemble a team of providers, including what CD Baby offers, to do just as well as many labels. But it requires great music, the right tools and a high level of effort to succeed today” says Maddux.
CD Baby has recently started operations east of the Atlantic by setting up an office in London, a territory under the EU’s Copyright Directive where Article 13 has been highly debated. What will CD Baby do to counter this?
“In the Independent sector, equal access is critical for emerging artists worldwide to be discovered. Platforms like YouTube allow artists to compete on par with major label artists. I fear that Article 13 as drafted may limit that equal footing and jeopardize some pathways of discovery and success that artists worldwide are benefiting from today. When you regulate, restrict access and move the burden of compliance to a high standard, only the major labels and artists will be able to win. Can you imagine a touring, self-supported independent artist having the resources to have a compliance department in order to keep their music up and visible if a more well financed competitor simply uses a law it helped to craft to stifle that access?” questions Maddux.
CD Baby has partnered with Cosynd to allow artistes an easy pathway to register and secure their copyrights. Will the company take the technologically savvy path to provide their artistes the extra edge over their competitors?
“Promotions! Check out Show.co. AdBuilder. We just launched it and it’s a game changer!” signs off Maddux.