End of an Era — CD Baby Is Shutting Down Its Online Music Store

CD Baby shutting down
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CD Baby shutting down
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Photo Credit: Unsplash

The end of an era is here – CD Baby is shutting down its online music store at the end of March.

CD Baby first launched its online presence in 1998 as one of the first online CD stores for indie artists. Since then, it has become a massive global distributor of independent music and a major publishing rights administrator.  Currently, CD Baby represents over 650,000 recording artists and 100,000 songwriters. The company reports payouts of more than $500 million to indie artists and labels for streams, CD and vinyl sales, YouTube revenue, sync licensing fees, and more.

So why is CD Baby shutting down its online music store?

In short – online CD sales have plummeted to a tiny percentage of the company’s revenues. In 2009, online store sales accounted for 27% of the total revenue paid to artists each week. By 2019, sales from the store account for less than 3% of artists’ overall earnings, according to the company.

Add flattening downloads into the mix, and the decision becomes pretty easy. “With a few exceptions, the store is no longer a money-maker for most of our artists,” an announcement reads.

CD Baby says it will focus on the aspects of its business that continue to be successful. Distribution, monetization, and promotion services will continue to be priorities.

One thing to note – CD Baby says its physical distribution program is still alive and well. The majority of orders for physical distribution CDs and vinyl records come from storefronts like Amazon or artist storefronts on Shopify.

CD Baby will still warehouse product and fulfill orders for artists who use their physical distribution program. The only change here is that CD Baby’s online store is shutting down. The move makes sense since streaming distribution makes up the bulk of its business.

While vinyl sales are up, CD sales are on a slow slope downward. 2019 marked the first year since 1986 that vinyl outsold CDs in the United States. But despite vinyl’s decade-plus upward surge, physical music sales continue to slump as the once-breadwinning CD rides into the sunset.

12 Responses

  1. Darby

    Digital, streaming content isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When your internet connection goes out, I’ll be listening to my CDs. Fools, the lot of you!

      • Darby

        Thanks for the direct personal attack. Look in a mirror to see the idiot.

      • Ethan Jensen

        I shall be laughing when your service goes down and you have NO access to the music you do not own and cannot hear! The internet does not run on magic even though you seem to think it does.

        Hillarious. Physical rules. Streaming is the new Emperors new clothes. No one makes any profit it is a case of last man standing hoping to take all the spoils. Physical will be here forever and I for one will always support it.

  2. FJ

    Quite honestly i dont know how people can live with just streaming and hundreds of albums in a computer. Clearly its people who dont take music seriously. Sound quality artwork, (lyrics when printed) and band photos all combined make for the perfect music experience. Anything below this is substandard and unacceptable.

  3. james w. day

    I miss the days of linear notes and art.
    At a recent gig a blues artist was handing out USB of his music… but alas no word doc inside to read who played what… side men are moved to the shadows.

    • Bobby

      Album art in general is half the fun of getting into music. Discovering a poster in the packaging is the most!

  4. Bobby

    Album art in general is half the fun of getting into music. Discovering a poster in the packaging is the most!

  5. Michael Green

    What will replace CD-baby’s ability to search for artists and genres?