CD Baby launched nearly 22 years ago to the date, quickly becoming one of the most prominent outlets for independent music of all sorts, but now, it announced that it’s closing its online store at the end of March. As the announcement states, with Digital Music News (DMN) also reporting, “online CD sales have plummeted to a tiny percentage of the company’s revenues. In 2009, online store sales accounted for 27% of the total revenue paid to artists each week. By 2019, sales from the store account for less than 3% of artists’ overall earnings, according to the company.”
Since 1998, as DMN notes, CD Baby was not only one of the first online CD stores for indie artists but has become “a massive global distributor of independent music and a major publishing rights administrator.“
“Currently, CD Baby represents over 650,000 recording artists and 100,000 songwriters. The company reports payouts of more than $500 million to indie artists and labels for streams, CD and vinyl sales, YouTube revenue, sync licensing fees, and more.”
The company will continue physical distribution, which includes both CDs and vinyl LPs, mostly through outlets like Amazon and Shopify. Still, the key element of its business is the one that can be expected at the moment – streaming.
As DMN also notes, the reasoning behind this CD Baby decision is logical. “While vinyl sales are up, CD sales are on a slow slope downward. 2019 marked the first year since 1986 that vinyl outsold CDs in the United States. But despite vinyl’s decade-plus upward surge, physical music sales continue to slump.”