CD Baby ends distribution of vinyl and CDs to focus on streaming

Photo credit: Samuel Regan-Asante via Unsplash

Independent music distributor CD Baby says it will no longer distribute CDs and vinyl and will shutter its warehouse.

The move comes as CD Baby aligns its focus with the digital landscape and the ever-growing dominance of streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.

For over two decades, CD Baby has been a go-to platform for independent musicians and artists looking to distribute their music physically through the sale of CDs and vinyl. However, the music industry landscape has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, with a shift to streaming.

Recognizing this shift, CD Baby recently made a strategic move to adapt its business model accordingly.

Effective June 22, CD Baby will discontinue the sale and fulfillment of physical products, and all warehousing, shipping, and distribution activities associated with CDs and vinyl will be halted across all channels, including Alliance and Amazon Marketplace. 

This is according to a copy of CD Baby’s notice to clients posted by one Twitter user.

However, the company says it will continue digital distribution of indie artists’ catalogs to DSPs.

“Digital distribution to places like Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music will continue, as will our support for artists at any stage of their journey.”


“Digital distribution to places like Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music will continue, as will our support for artists at any stage of their journey. We will even have some exciting new features and offers to help you manage your music career coming soon that we can’t wait to share with you,” CD Baby said.

The company has also given indie artists the option to either recover or recycle their remaining physical inventory.

“When recycling is chosen, we work with a company to pick up the CDs and break them back down into their raw materials. The recycling company can then resell the raw materials, keep CDs out of landfills, and prevent CDs from showing up at retail stores or online as used or discount merchandise,” CD Baby said in its Support page.

Customers will be given a 60-day grace period to pay for their inventory to be returned before they are recycled.

Founded in 1998 by Derek Sivers in New York, CD Baby was one of the first online retailers of CDs for independent artists. The company also sold CDs, cassette tapes and vinyl to brick-and-mortar retailers.

CD Baby became part of New York-based independent rights management and music services company, Downtown Music Holdings in 2019 when the latter acquired the AVL Digital Group and its portfolio of businesses for about $200 million. 

Described as an “anti-label” by Downtown Music’s Chief Commercial Officer Tracy Maddux, CD Baby has paid out over $1 billion to artists since its founding in 1998.

In 2020 alone, it paid out $125.4 million from digital platforms to artists, equivalent to around $2.4 million every week.

Today’s news also arrives Downtown Music Holdings (DMH)-owned Downtown Music formed a new Artist & Label Services division, led by Ben Patterson.

The Artist & Label Services division was born from Downtown’s distribution arm, DashGo, and the company said that it is “integral” to its “core mission to empower artists and build an equitable music ecosystem”.

DashGo was also acquired by Downtown in 2019 when it acquired AVL Digital Group for an estimated $200 million. Patterson founded DashGo in 2004.

That news arrived six months after DMH formed the Downtown Music unit, combining all of Downtown’s global business and professional services including distribution, label and artist services, publishing administration, video and user-generated rights monetization, neighbouring rights, royalty accounting solutions, sync licensing and creative support services.

Amongst those combined divisions were Downtown Music Services, music publishing platform Songtrust, rights management company Adrev, indie distribution company CD Baby and B2B music tech and services platform Fuga.

In March it was reported that Downtown Music Holdings was making a new round of layoffs with the downsizing mostly affecting roles within the CD BabyDowntown Music PublishingSongtrust and Downtown Music Holdings divisions.

 Music Business Worldwide

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