CD Baby artists earned over $100 million in 2018

Independent artists worldwide are generating serious money for the music industry.

According to estimated figures published by MIDiA Research, total revenue generated by ‘self-releasing’ artists in 2018 was $643 million – up 35% on 2017, when the equivalent annual number hit $472m.

Today, MBW can reveal that a single distribution company, CD Baby, contributed over $100m of that $600m-plus independent artist revenue.

US-based CD Baby, which started as an online CD store in 1998, now represents over 750,000 recording artists, 170,000 songwriters, and over 9m tracks across 800+ genres.

Speaking to MBW today (January 8), CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux revealed that his company’s 2018 artist earnings had topped $100m. That’s up at least $20m on the previous year, when it distributed around $80m in 2017.

And while Maddux explained that CD Baby doesn’t disclose certain precise fiscal details, he did confirm that the company’s 2018 gross revenues were “in the range $120m for the CD Baby brand”.

“We believe that the independent share of the sound recording industry worldwide is growing faster than the industry overall,” said Maddux.

“We think that the figures provided by MIDiA research are correct – that last year the independent self-released sector was worth more than $600m worldwide.”

“We believe that the independent share of the sound recording industry worldwide is growing faster than the industry overall.”

Tracy Maddux, CD Baby (pictured)

So how has CD Baby managed to contribute almost a sixth of these global indie-artist recorded music revenues?

According to the company, it partly owes its success to “the under-monetization problem” – ie. artists who are not monetizing via all available platforms and avenues such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, publishing, sync and others.

“We’re assisting songwriters who make original content to collect all their worldwide royalties with CD Baby Pro,” said Maddux.

He added: “CD Baby has over 170,000 songwriters and 1.1 million songs in its publishing catalog for worldwide performance and mechanical collection.

“We make it easy for independent songwriters to collect ALL their money worldwide.

“YouTube monetization is also an area of significant opportunity, as well as Instagram and Facebook, revenue sources that are increasingly available to the self-released artists and important to collect.

“These uses were more than 10% of CD Baby artists’ earnings in 2018.”Music Business Worldwide

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