CD Baby Ripping Off Artists?

Either someone’s out astroturfing for a competitor of CD Baby, or somebody must have had a freakishly screwed up order. Someone calling themselves John Miller is sending e-mail and posting forum and blog comments to just about every independent music website they can find, claiming that they’re starting up a class action lawsuit against Derek Sivers and that artists are too “afraid to speak out” about problems with the service.


CD Baby is the one shining star of an e-commerce sector that’s notorious for crooks and liars coming out of the woodwork to bait musicians. How many tales of woe have we heard about online music distribution companies that failed to make payments to artists and labels? Meanwhile, CD Baby bends over backwards to make it easy to get paid — especially when most fulfillment companies charge twice as much and require a monthly pallet fee.

CD Baby works because Derek’s been focused on that business from Day One. While other companies tried to leverage their artist goodwill (and use their credit card receipts to funnel money into failed expansion ventures), Derek collects money from buyers and puts it in the hands of artists with no B.S.

Who the heck would have a problem with that?

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22 responses

  1. couldnt agree more. cdbaby has been great to us. made it much easier to leverage ourselves against bands with distribution. since content is secondary to distribution…we love cdbaby. havent made all that much money from it…nearing a hundred bucks…love em.

  2. I truly hate liars. From day one I’ve had nothing but success dealing with CDBABY. When I had a question I would get an answer.

    My problem is I am sometimes afraid that CDBABY will be taken over by some big Major Label. I hope Derek never ever gets tired and sell.

    I can not say enough but I am glad I have CDBABY as my on-line distributor.

    Get real people and stop the lies!!!!!!!

  3. Sounds like Moses Avalon is at it again (I believe his real name is Josh Melville). He has been trying to undermine Derek & CD Baby for years. He has written some articles bad mouthing him. Back when Derek started offering digital distribution, he implied that CD Baby’s new digital distribution service was going to rip off artists (He even compared him to Anikan Skywalker stating that he had fallen to the dark side). Recently he wrote another article that was clearly nothing more than a plug for a new music distributor that would compete with CD Baby. The whole article went on and on about how bad CD Baby was and how much better this new service (Who’s name escapes me now) was going to be. I once sat with him at a one on one mentor panel (Before the whole digital distribution thing) and he told me I was lucky to have made money on CD Baby and to get out while I was ahead. The funny thing is I have never heard of any artists taking Moses Avalon’s side in the debate. As for Derek & CD Baby, there are thousands of artists who are able to release, sell cd’s & make a better living than they could on major lables.

  4. Count Monaco approved of Moses regardless. 🙂

    There’s tabloid irony in this… Kinda like saying “x” famous person isn’t really what he plays on tv. Who cares? Either you liked the show or not. Get over it.

    I know engineers that have worked on grammy wining albums that ROYALLY SUCK.

  5. You should also check out, we used them for our single and album releases.

    For £25 Ditto provide you with over 50 sites, and not just the US based ones.
    Also online accounting, a fixed release date, 4 week turnaround and you can become eligible for the UK charts.
    They cover a total of 700 worldwide stores and take 0% commission on sales.
    They have had 7 UK top 40 singles, all with unsigned artists.
    A better service for UK artists i think.

  6. I get the impression that in 2006, when this article was written, CDBaby was still a reputable place being overseen by a guy with some scruples. In 2009, however, that is no longer the case. Since CDBaby was sold to Disk Makers late last year, aspects of the company that previously helped promote independent artists are being replaced with constructs that help Disk Makers’ corporate greed. Unfortunately Disk Makers (CDBaby) has a monopoly on a business nobody else in the industry wants to bother with. This has got to be the worst time in the history of recorded music for people actually producing good music to get into the business. If you thought opportunities were few and far between in the past, I think you’ll soon be pining for those salad days.

    1. I could not agree more with your comments. I have been an artist with CD Baby and up until they were purchased they had a great ethic with their artists. Since purchase and the recent revamping of their site its turned belly over corporate. I received very little support from them either by telephone, v/m or email. Its a very upsetting reality. I have pulled all my stock off their site and no longer plan to give 100% of my business to them. Instead selling direct from my website to cut them out of their cd sales fees. No apologies to the artists means we will find a way to bypass them one way or another!

  7. I agree. They skim their artist according to my payments. I get the same amount no matter what. Isn’t that odd? I hear there are a couple of other companies that Amazon pay besides CD Baby. I would like to know of others as I think it is time for a change. I am sure they all skm a little but not 50%.

    1. Did you find any names of those companies that itunes and amazon pay? I would be interested. Thanks

  8. One guy Avatar
    One guy

    CD baby said they had digitally distributed my music to 14 digital retailers but after a year I searched each one and came up short on 4 accounts! They sent me emails saying 'sorry' it'll be resubmitted! ….Great…. thanks….

  9. A letter I wrote today regarding cd baby taking over 2 months and counting just to get our ep out. Waiting for the Response…
    Hey Allison,
    Sorry to say that this is beginning to get ridiculous . I lost out on summer promotion of our cd because of all of this. I still can not verify song titles are correct. I can't access samples. This has been going on for way too long, and basically I have nothing good to say at the moment about cd baby. In the end this service (?) has cost us crucial time in promotion. What was supposed to be a very simple way to get our music out has turned into a nightmare. And FAR from simple. I know cd baby is making millions of dollars on musicians and probably could care less about some of us who get lost in your shuffle, yet for some reason I had faith you guys would be different.
    As you can tell I am one pissed off customer. So there you have it. Wonder how many other unsatisfied cd babies are out there?
    I have been in touch with Joel Andrews a while back but has since not replied to my recent requests for help.
    I feel you guys owe us, but I've lost faith that you'll ever come through.
    As a musician, film producer ( ” Punk Attitude”, Heavy Metal, Louder than life) , I find this experience a poor reflection on this industry.

  10. cdbabylawsuit Avatar

    CDBaby was great when Derek ran it. Now they're doing some serious damage by not providing services we artists are paying for. What's worse is that they have known since June 11 that they cannot provide the services they are offering.

    I wrote a song with my long time friend and keyboard player who is now dying of liver cancer. I chose to submit this song to the Grammy's to give him a chance to be publicly recognized for his amazing musical contributions over the years. He deserves that chance – he's a dear soul and always in such high spirits despite his circumstances.

    So in order to submit to the Grammy's I did what I've done before without issue – I paid CD Baby $55 for digital distribution of a single song along with a UPC code. As soon as they were done charging my credit card, I asked for the UPC code. I was then informed that their UPC code generator was broken. I asked for a refund and they told me their refunds were not working, either. But not to worry, it would be working shortly!


    CD Baby chose to revamp their website during the exact 3 week Grammy submission window, and conveniently their UPC Barcode generator broke and was not fixed until AFTER the submission deadline was over. You need a UPC code to submit to the Grammy's so this was a problem for thousands of artists who were trying to submit.

    But now that the deadline is over, the UPC Generator works just fine! However… now there's another problem.

    Artists who have signed up for CD Baby's distribution services since June 11 are getting disqualified for the Grammy's due to the sudden “disappearance” of ALL new submissions from the CD Baby front end. Grammy entries are required to be available for retail purchase.

    Oh, but the “back end” is working just fine – CD Baby admits they have received all tracks digital and hard copy songs just fine! They're just not displaying on the front-end and won't be available for purchase for an indefinite amount of time.


    I want to know what's holding them up from distributing my music to the retailers they normally distribute to. I've been using CD Baby for years, and while I can understand delays at times – this is going on 2 months.

    I've organized a website to gather people with similar experiences and I am hoping for resolution – this is absolutely unacceptable and I will not take any excuses for an answer. NONE OF US WILL!

    1. I've experienced the same terrible experience. I submitted my CD the first week of June and it's still not distributed to any digital store. The problem is, after two months, they are still blaming everything on relaunching the website. Why did they need to revamp a website if nothing in it is gonna work. I haven't received an e-mail to confirm the songs for distribution either. I signed in to my account and found that they sold all my physical CDs and it's out of stock at the moment, and they didn't bother to send an e-mail stating that. It's not like I'm the only one losing money, but they are also not getting their share of my profits.
      All my e-mails weren't replied to, and I've been trying to call them and they keep me on hold for hours. Actually I'm on HOLD as we speak, and I've been waiting for 2 hours and a half so far. I'm starting to regret signing up with them. Is there any company that has similar services to CDbaby that actually works?

  11. joseluis Tapia Avatar
    joseluis Tapia

    With cd baby for two years and all this time my account says they owe me $ 11.88 fishy? extra fishy! with so many people downloading in the whole world .Would you send more input?

  12. I’ve only been with cdbaby a few months, but I’ve been pretty happy with them! I haven’t had any serious problems I needed to go to them with, but as for the simple process of submitting, approval, distribute, and payment, I payed them, they posted my stuff, people bought, and I got paid!

  13. LOLnotso much! Avatar
    LOLnotso much!

    Cd baby is a fraud in 1998,I had an album out,and they used an imposter to fill out my role of a well know songwriter after I took out my cd from them out of disgust at the time.Beyonce was singing my song about close family going as far as using my last name..I thought that I was hallucinating..NO !I WAS NOT!Nevertheless,I forgetfully goined again with the same album after it being lost..started from scratch and today they pay me only 5.52 $,is that a grammy nominated artist?I once was using MY NAME,MY CDVOICING..THEY TELL ME ,THAT THE ONLY WAY THAT I GET THROUGH IS TO SUE CD-BABY,THEM..MIND YOU THEY’VE STOLE NOT A LOUSY 2$ BUT THOUSANDS FROM ME..2010 AND 1998 THAT TOO..WEITHER THAT I WON A GRAMMY OR NOT IS UNCLEAR,BUT I KNOW THAT BEYONCE WAS SINGING MY SONG TO MY LAST NAME..CD BABY IS DISGUSTING..NO RESPECT FOR PPLE THAT DESIRE TO BE “THE ONE”,ME BEING KNOWN FOR POETRY,THAT IS THE REASON THAT I SING..MY VOICE ISN’T THE BEST BUT MY LYRICS ROCK!i HAVE BEEN TOLD BY MANY..WHAT’S NEXT?I HOPE CDBABY HAS TO CLOSE THEIR SITE..THEY ARE NOT NICE AT ALL!THEY SHOULD BE RENAMED “CON ARTIST BABY” NOT CDBABY!

    1. philbert Avatar

      Might your last name be “club” or “drink”? possibly “baby”?

  14. Stunned at the complete idiocy of "LOLnotso much!" Avatar
    Stunned at the complete idiocy of “LOLnotso much!”

    Me put werds 2gever an mek santinces.

    SeeDee babee iz evil alien i saw it at mi aunt ruth’s howse in thu bac thare iz uh feeld wif a punkin pach anna oke tree an seeedee baby killed a momma fare itt but got bit and stole my Lady Gaga song and stole my grammy award back in 1863 but i rite reel gud stuff an kant sing werf a dam and peeple tell me wut i wanna heer so i think im good but i suk and im totally delusional so you should sue cdbaby and close down there web syte and free all thu artissts and stawp frawd uhbyouse cuz im not hallucinating im juss strate wikkid crazee an outta my mineee

    1. awsumly unbaweavable!

  15. So where would you go now to sell your music online? Thanks, Mike.