CD Baby now publishes over a million songs – and says it’s ‘helping solve the industry’s publishing problem one songwriter at a time’

The music industry has gotten used to describing CD Baby as a “distributor” over the past 20 years, but the Oregon-headquartered business has grown far beyond this core service – as a new milestone handsomely proves.

Five years ago, CD Baby partnered with indie tech platform Songtrust to launch a publishing administration service for its clients, which has since expanded into the UK and beyond.

And today (August 15), CD Baby has confirmed to MBW that it now administers over a million songs, for 160,000 songwriters in over 50 countries.

To put the size of this mass of songs into context, it’s nearly half the size of Sony’s entire global music publishing catalog (excluding EMI) – which amounted to 2.3m compositions at the end of June, according to corporate filings.

Publishing now forms a core tenet of CD Baby’s offering, alongside royalty collection, distribution and other services.

As such, the firm says it has direct affiliations with more than 30 Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) worldwide. Of the million-plus compositions in its database, CD Baby administers 100% of the publishing for over 750,000 songs.

Across all rights, CD Baby has paid out $55 million to artists year-to-date, and around $100 million in the past 12 months.

The firm estimates that its artist catalog makes up an estimated 35% of songs available on Spotify – and it reckons it’s delivering almost 50% of the new music self-released by artists in North America being delivered to streaming services. (As we’ve previously reported, worldwide, streaming services such as Spotify add approximately 20,000 tracks a day to their databases.)

The firm employs 135 people worldwide, who work across three languages.

Below, CD Baby’s Head of Creator Services, Jon Bahr (pictured inset) discusses the company’s growth in the publishing admin world – and that headline-grabbing million song milestone.


It’s true – the tides of the music business have risen in the past few years as streaming has gained a massive foothold with no signs of letting up.

Alongside the rise has been a string of lawsuits, metadata/registration problems, unknown compositions, suppressed content, failed legislation (and current legislation that hopefully may soon pass), missing songwriters, royalty delays and royalties incorrectly paid out. In nearly every situation, the issue surrounds the underlying composition – the song, which was crafted by a songwriter.

We are thrilled to announce that CD Baby Publishing Administration is solving those problems globally for over one million songs and 160,000 songwriters in over 50 countries with direct affiliations at more than 30 Performing Rights Organizations worldwide.

This groundbreaking milestone – with over 750,000 songs where we administer 100% of the publishing shares – is truly helping solve the industry’s publishing problem one songwriter at a time.

Our global Publishing Administration service is getting these songwriters their rightfully owed money globally and emptying the often discussed many “black boxes” at collection societies.

At its core, CD Baby’s role is to help music creators both get their music into the world and make sure they collect upon every revenue stream for that music. We give artists and songwriters full choice to layer different services under creator-friendly terms, as opposed to overreaching rights grabs.

“This groundbreaking milestone – with over 750,000 songs where we administer 100% of the publishing shares – is truly helping solve the industry’s publishing problem one songwriter at a time.”

With 9 million recordings distributed (one million new tracks in 2017 alone!), four million songs with YouTube & Facebook monetization, three million songs under non-exclusive Sync Licensing, one million songs under Publishing Administration, 25,000 new Publishing songs registered a month, and 4,000 new songwriters a month collecting all their Publishing owed, CD Baby is getting money flowing to music creators.

At CD Baby, we educate that “No Song Should Go Unpublished.” A songwriter is inherently their own publisher, but knowing what to do usually ended with joining a performing rights organization like ASCAP or BMI in the US or SOCAN in Canada and hopefully knowing to collect as a both a writer and a publisher.

In my thirteen year tenure at ASCAP, I met countless songwriters who said ASCAP was their publisher (which is incorrect). Not managing your publishing shouldn’t mean the writer doesn’t get the money owed, but it does within the international framework of how songwriting royalties flow..

In the US, for certain interactive services like Amazon Music Unlimited and Pandora Premium the album or single won’t go live – though completely delivered by a distributor – without a Publisher registration/license of their works via Music Reports Inc. (MRI). We, as well as our artists and songwriters, certainly want their music to be available to as many listeners as they can unimpeded by their lack of publishing understanding.

“We give artists and songwriters full choice to layer different services under creator-friendly terms, as opposed to overreaching rights grabs.”

Most unpublished songwriters aren’t aware of all of the royalty streams going uncollected. Though royalties should flow better if the Music Modernization Act becomes law, songwriters will still need to proactively get their mechanical royalties in the US or work with a partner/publisher that will. If not, their royalties will be given away after three years.. Writers still wouldn’t collect their mechanicals for streams of their music in the rest of the world.

Each songwriter that chooses to use our Publishing Administration when distributing their music with CD Baby gets more money for each stream or download and solves countless global data problems. In a streaming era, where mechanicals account for roughly half the publishing royalties owed, songwriters have royalties sprinkled in every country in the world where someone pressed play and they don’t realize it.

In a real world example, a CD Baby published writer collected over $25,000 in just one country from a foreign online gaming platform that one wouldn’t think pays out directly.

The CD Baby songwriter community is truly global with 45% international releases. Our administration partnership with the great folks at Songtrust / Downtown Music Publishing allows us to collect at the source for our songwriters via their direct global affiliations with over 30 PROs covering in over 75 countries and territories where we have clients. In just 5 years in operation, we already have well over 50,000 songwriters administered at both ASCAP and BMI.

We make it easy to get full global songwriter royalty collection with a simple 1-year term followed by a quarterly renewal and a fair 15% administration fee. In the US and Canada, a writer can even join a PRO as a songwriter without leaving our website. We are trying and succeeding at getting music creators their royalties, making it easy in the process.

What’s our next act? There are some rights left in this neighborhood of music…Music Business Worldwide

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