CD Baby Payouts Cross $100 Million

Sometimes, simplicity pays, and in the case of CD Baby, artist payouts have now passed $100 million.

The cumulative payout was recently revealed by the Portland, Oregon-based company, one whose roots are as old (or young) as the digital music industry itself.  In 2008, CD Baby boosted CD sales one again, this time by a modest 2 percent over 2007 totals.  On the digital side, partners like the iTunes Store boosted digital by 42 percent to $24.2 million.

In total, artist payouts topped $34 million in 2009, up 28 percent over year-ago totals, according to the company.  Overall, the company handles more than 277,000 albums from 150,000 member artists.

Indeed, this company is an original player on the DIY stage, a field that now filled with plenty of competitors.  That includes TuneCore, a company that stole considerable thunder away from CD Baby by direct-porting songs into the iTunes Store.  CD Baby also offers that service, though the game is now more crowded – and goes far beyond physical product.

The critical question now is whether avenues like CD Baby can generate serious artist salaries, instead of just impressive aggregated payouts.  So far, a limited number of artists are finding success, defined by earning enough to make ends meet (and quit the day job).  “There are very few musicians that can actually make a living off their music,” explained Joe Purdy, a folk singer who has earned more than $640,000 through CD Baby.  “I  have been one of the fortunate few whose passion translates into a career and CD Baby played a huge role in that.”