MusicDish At MIDEM: CD Baby, U.S.A.
Aggregator, Digital/Mobile Service & Distributor, Digita//Mobile Solutions & Service Provider, Importer/Exporter, Retailer/Record Shop
by Anne Freeman,
Company: CD Baby
Type: Aggregator, Digital/Mobile Service & Distributor, Digita//Mobile Solutions & Service Provider, Importer/Exporter, Retailer/Record Shop
Genres: All Musical Styles
CD Baby describes itself as "a little online record store that sells CDs by independent musicians," but it is actually the largest seller of independent CDs on the internet. Starting out as a one-man operation in Portland, OR, Founder and President Derek Sivers’ company has sold over $25M independent CDs since its humble beginnings.
Recently, Derek added a digital distribution service, which brought CD Baby to "MIDEM, The World Music Market’s 40th Edition." Attending MIDEM along with Derek Sivers are Gray Gannaway, head of digital distribution, and Spencer Trowbridge, licensing coordinator.
I passed by the CD Baby booth several times a day during each day at MIDEM to attempt an interview with Derek, but he was in meetings with potential clients at every pass. Finally, after the conference ended and Derek and his staff were packing up, I chanced upon Derek and grabbed a few minutes with him.
[MusicDish] How are you doing, Derek?
Derek Sivers Good. A little tired it’s the end of a long conference.
[MusicDish] Derek, this is CD Baby’s first year at MIDEM?
Derek Sivers Yes.
[MusicDish] What did you bring to MIDEM and what will you take back with you?
Derek Sivers I brought a lot of fliers and I’m taking back a lot more (laughs). MIDEM is very business-to-business, which is why I’ve always avoided it all these years. Everybody told me that it’s just suits, there are no musicians here. Maybe one or two, but for the most part it’s just suits shaking hands and doing deals. And that’s never been our thing.
CD Baby is a service that deals directly with the musicians themselves. If somebody comes to us from a big record label and says, "Hey, we want to sell our catalogue through CD Baby," we say we don’t really want to deal with record labels, we just deal with musicians, and we sell directly to music fans. That’s how it’s been historically.
We are now a digital distribution program where we’re actually selling our complete digital catalogue to song companies and the next iTunes, whatever that might be, so now we actually have a business-to-business angle to what we do. So that is why we came here for the first time.
[MusicDish] Will you have some exciting news to bring back to your CD Baby members after your experience here because of your interactions with other businesses?
Derek Sivers I think that it was a little daunting here. It’s amazing how much distribution a musician can get. Distribution has become a commodity. It’s amazing. In 1998, when I started CD Baby, you could not get distribution. If you were a musician without a distribution deal with a big label, nobody would sell your CD. Maybe the little local record shop where you knew the owner and you could sell it on consignment, but there was nowhere to sell your CD in 1998. That’s why I started CD Baby, because there was no distribution anywhere.
Fast-forward a few years, and now everybody and anyone who warbles into a mic can get massive, world-wide, international distribution, in this galaxy and beyond. It’s amazing.
[MusicDish] I’m sure that your members, and particularly those who are using your digital distribution service, will be very excited to see the fruits of this conference.
Derek Sivers Absolutely amazed. They’re gonna be amazed at how many new places their music has reached to, in other parts of the world that they never thought that they’d get to.
[MusicDish] That’s terrific, Derek. Thanks so much to talking to MusicDish at MIDEM. We’ll see you next year.
Derek Sivers Thanks, Anne.