This is the seventh song sales tool that I've reviewed after getting lots of wonderful input from many musicians across Twitter, the blogosphere and the web. My main interest right now is direct sales of digital downloads of songs, so that's my focus in this series: TuneCore/SmashSongs/RootMusic, CreateSpace, ReverbNation and Genuine Caring.
Like ReverbNation, CDBaby has a sort of direct sales tool, but has been equally focused on several other tools for musical artists. I can still remember when Derek Sivers set up CDBaby. It was so revolutionary that independent musicians would be able to market their own CD's direct to the public in such an organized and centralized manner. While it's no longer such a revolution, CDBaby is a major contender in the independent music marketing space. In addition to their version of direct digital sales (individual songs or albums) to listeners, CDBaby's services include CD sales, digital distribution (to iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and others), sync licensing, musician web site hosting, and more. Visit their site for more information.
I really like CDBaby and I don't think it's just for the nostalgia. Their pricing on digital distribution seems more straightforward (than ReverbNation or Tunecore, for example) to me. Even with their recent price increases, most of their services are at least competitive with other similar services. (Some of the newer CD on Demand services could potentially give CDBaby a run for their money in that space.)
(As always, the pricing included here is current as of now, but subject to change at the vendor's discretion … or whim.) Direct digital sales require an up front payment: individual songs are $9.95 and albums are $49.00 per submission. CDBaby also has a submission credits program that reduces this cost. Each submission of an album can include both physical and digital sales. The musician/band gets 75% of digital downloads. This means that each single sold for $.99 requires 14 sales before the submitter starts to make money beyond the costs. That should be achievable by any independent musician who is going to make any headway in this business, but it's not going to allow you to quit your day job.
CDBaby provides ways to embed your store (which can be for both physical and digital sales) in a FaceBook page or a standard web site (such as a blog). These integrations seem to set up and work quite well. (I had better success with them than with ReverbNation which forces the buyer to go to the RN Store to browse, listen or buy). The FaceBook store is user friendly and CDBaby has continued to develop it, adding features such as the “Like” button for each song.
My friend Tracy Ready uses CDBaby for his Trace Relations release including the seamlessly embedded storefront. He was one of the people who mentioned CDBaby early in my investigation. Be sure to visit Trace's sites and check out all he has to offer in music, video and other creative avenues.
All in all, CDBaby comes highly recommended. As long as the fees don't scare you away, they offer great integration of some basic components of independent music marketing: from digital distribution to direct sales and loads more if you need it.
But there's more to come. My two final picks turn out to be dedicated digital direct sales tools. And one of them may surprise you. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, feel free to comment. Your experience may vary from mine. If so, I'd enjoy learning about it!