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Experiance with Distributors?

Member for

15 years
I'm wondering if anyone has experiance with distributors like CDBaby, "The Orchard" local city opera house, and IODA local city opera house?

I'm planning to release my CD early next year and it looks like the way to get it out there is through one of these companies. Right now I'm leaning toward CDBaby because they offer so many distribution options. IE: Both online and actual stores. They also seem to have very reasonable fees.

Has anyone here worked with these companies? What was your experiance?

Thanks in advance.


Member for

20 years 8 months

MadMax Thu, 11/30/2006 - 17:47
Croakus wrote: I'm wondering if anyone has experiance with distributors like CDBaby, "The Orchard" local city opera house, and IODA local city opera house?

I'm planning to release my CD early next year and it looks like the way to get it out there is through one of these companies. Right now I'm leaning toward CDBaby because they offer so many distribution options. IE: Both online and actual stores. They also seem to have very reasonable fees.

Has anyone here worked with these companies? What was your experiance?

Thanks in advance.

No direct personal experience with em', but I know quite a few artists who distribute through CDBaby and I haven't heard anyone complain.

As far as the others... I got nuttin' other than IODA looks like they're still not quite sure what they're doing... whereas CDBaby gets to selling the music right upfront and then you kinda' dig into the site to sell your stuff. IODA seems to still be trying to convince artists to sell through them instead of reaching out to the public and get them to the music as quick as possible.

There's probably not anything wrong wwith IODA, but to me CDBaby seems to have the markeing edge to the public.

I definitely wanna' keep an eye on this thread to see what others have to say...

My paltry .02

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 11/30/2006 - 18:32
Placing your CD on CD Baby, or any other WEB-based seller, will NOT generate sales!

You (or someone for you) need to develop a MARKETING?PROMOTION plan that works. There must be RADIO play, TV appearances, PR letters/articles in magazines appropriate for your potential fan base, live performances, etc... ALL happening at the same time. At that point you can say "you can buy my CD at...etc...etc...".

Without marketing/promotion it's impossible to generate any (significant) sales.

Ther problem is not (nor has it ever been) finding shops to sell your material.

The problem is getting the marketing/promotion done right so as to GENERATE the sales. At which point of course you would NOT want to sell at CD Baby because they get way too big a piece!

Member for

15 years

Croakus Fri, 12/01/2006 - 09:58
Digit. You're absolutely right of course. Honestly though, I'm not looking for significant sales. If I managed to sell 100 copies I'd be really happy. I'm mainly interested in finding the best way to sell my CD to a few fans who have found my music online or at one of our gigs. I think you're at a much different (read: higher and more professional) level of the game than me, and probably always will be.

Of course I'd love to send you a demo :wink:

MadMax, your opinion echos mine. CDBaby just seems to be better focused on the customer (which they should be) while the other two seem to focus on the content creator. That shows me where they intend to make their money.

Member for

15 years

Croakus Sat, 12/02/2006 - 07:58
So, Digit. What you wrote has been rolling around in my brain all night.

How would you suggest a local artist with very limited funds begin such a marketing and promotion campaign?

Would I contact local radio stations to see if they promote local artists?

Do I put out a press release?

I'm sure there's a book I haven't read yet regarding this.

Any tips you can give me would be great. Thanks in advance.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 12/02/2006 - 09:43
I will be in the studio most of the day but, will have a set of marketing/promotionaideas for you between today and tomorrow :)

One question I would ask though is: have you had professional music producers specialiazed in, or at least familiar with, your genre listen to your music? Did you get any comments?

That would be step No. 1

Member for

15 years

Croakus Sat, 12/02/2006 - 17:27
I really appreciate your advice about marketing my material.

Regarding your question. I haven't had a professional listen to my music in a good twelve years. To be honest, I'm not sure what genre I fall into.

I don't want to ask too much of your time, I know you do this for a living. Could you listen to the songs I have on my MySpace page and give me your opinion? The recordings aren't great, but the songs are all mine.

Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experiance with me.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 12/03/2006 - 08:21
Sorry for the late reply. As it turns out I will have a very heavy couple of weeks in the studio but, I will chime in as often as I can. I do apologize for having to "answer" in multiple posts :)

Briefly put, any marketing and promotional efforts MUST be perfectly timed with the release of a CD (or movie, dvd, etc...). That is because the HYPE has a certainl lifespan after which it fades away. Promotion is a way of hyping up a product. Keep in mind that in your case the product is YOU, not the music.

When we talk about CD releases we are talking about the Artist, the music follows. You know what I mean? Labels market ARTISTS, that's their product. It just so happens that those artists make music ;)

You will have to find first and foremost who your fan base is. Who are your fans and therefore, potential buyers? When people buy a CD they buy the artist with all his/her persona, stage presence, etc... Without that there will be no CD sales, unless you were into selling no-name mood music or such type of CDs.

Major labels have to record first and then, promote and market the CD. They spend huge amounts of money on this and countless people work on promoting an upcoming release for a major artist. Because they are also part of MEGA-MEDIA corporations they can also use companies within the same group for TV/CABLE/RADIO/PRINT promotion. At that point, and only when everything is in place, teh CD release is announced. For big artist you'll see mega-billboards around town as well.

Indie artists will have to work backward (compared to a label) when releasing their first CD because NO one yet knows who they are. They have ZERO name recognition, no fans, etc... So, the only way to have at least some sales (while the CD is still 'young') is to start a band first, play around town, get your name around, do colleges, etc... Then, after enough demand is there, record a CD and organize whatever touring to promote it.

In your case, you mentioned a Press release. That won't do much. Who will read it? And what do they know about you? You don't have the budget that major labels have to promote a brand new, never before heard artist. A huge budget can sell an unknown artist ONLY because by the time the CD is released every one will know who the artist is. They can paste you picture in print, TV shows, radio shows, book you a small part in a movie, etc... No 'trick' is spared.

I would suggest to measure what fan base you have BEFORE releasing a CD. If you release a CD too soon it will fade away into oblivon. Or, you will be forced to re-release it the following year (perhaps adding a couple of bonus NEW tunes). A CD 'life' can actually be quite SHORT!

In addition, I tell ALL indie artists to actually STAY away from places like CD Baby, etc... because they are doing nothing that you coudln't do yourself. They do NOT promote YOUR music, the do NOT promote YOUR touring schedule. They do NOT pay for your CD replication. They ONLY take money from you for the privilege (ah!) of selling YOUR music...and taking a huge cut in the process.

Nowadays, with MYSPACE and YOUR OWN website you can do BETTER and keep the bread! Go to the POST OFFICE and take one CD with the mailer of your choice. They will weigh it for you and give you a FLAT RATE postage for the US. When you get an order, simply put the darn thing out your door for the mailman to pick up. How easy is that...! If you do that, you can sell your CD cheaper and MAKE MORE MONEY for yourself!

I have to take a quick shower and go back into the studio but, let me suggest this for now:

1) Who's your fan base? How old are they? What do they wear?, etc...

2) Do NOT use a "service" to sell your CD, you can do it yourself and keep the money in YOUR pocket! If you are selling more CDs than you can manage to put out the door call me and I'll make/give you a deal :)

3) Do NOT release a CD if you don't have enough of a fan base to make it meaningful

4) Based on the various answers for No.1, check with events, such as store/mall openings, sport events, music/electronic shows, radio shows, etc... and get in touch with their people to arrange a FREE concert. You and your band will perform for FREE but, they pay for the PA, insurance, etc... If your music is appropriate and GOOD, it will give them something EXTRA to pull people in (especially if YOU can prove you have a certain fan base which would also constitute buyers for their products) and you will get exposure.

I have to split now. I'lll chime in later...

PS I haven't had a chance to listen to your stuff yet but, I WILL!



Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 12/03/2006 - 12:19
DIGIT thanks for the response. Although I am not the OP, this was beneficial to some of the questions I had.

Good luck to the OP in marketing his music.

Have you ever though of trying to put your songs/album on itunes. They do have an application; although, I do not know how easy it is to get approved.

Member for

15 years

Croakus Sun, 12/03/2006 - 14:52
That is just a fantastic response! I can't thank you enough for taking the time to write all that out for me. I'm definitely rethinking my goal here, and the potential of the project. I have the opportunity to start playing in larger cities around the Southeast like Charleston, Nashville, etc. It sounds like I need to focus my energy on that, and keep the recording to personal (home studio) projects for now.

ELMG, that’s actually how I started looking into distributors. I applied to iTunes, and they sent me an email stating that they do not deal directly with independent artists. The email listed the three services in my original post and suggested I use one of them. IE: if I want to sell on iTunes I have to use a distributor. I may use one just for that purpose, but would like to keep as much of the profit as I can (obviously).

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 12/04/2006 - 09:36
Hey, I am back for minute.

I am glad I was somewhat helpful, that's why I am here.

iTune demanding people to use a "distributor" is a corporate move to FORCE artists into driving profits to those companies which in fact do little or NOTHING for you. I mean, why force a musician to give his mp3 files to Company A to pass it along to company B for a PROFIT? What have they done that merits the middle man fee? It's a racket.

When you are ready, check with Discmakers, I remember hearing that they have a deal when you make a CD with them that would get you an iTune application. Discmakers will give you a barcode too and I don't believe they take a cut.

Finally, while I am NOT advocating that we all give up our jobs & passions to become political activists it's worth thinking every once in a while that as we wake up every morning an go about our lives, doing what we love, taking care of our families and friend and wrking hard at making a living there is an equally motivated group of people who dedicate their lives to screw us every way possible :)

If you live in the US you must know by now for example, that Congress is no longer serving the interest of the people but, those of the corporate donors alone. The monopolization of music & media companies is a result of that.

They now have the Internet on their sight so, pay attention because that could well mean that forums such as this one could be very hard if not impossible to reach.

Member for

15 years

Croakus Mon, 12/04/2006 - 16:28
Discmakers looks really good from a service standpoint. Interestingly, their distribution is through a partnership with CDBaby.

You're right about it being a racket. I'm a web application developer by day so I know exactly how easy it would be for iTunes to add an unsigned artists category. From a technical standpoint it's a complete no brainer. Problem is, the lawyers would freak out if you just allowed people to sell their music willy-nilly. Not to mention the big producers and distribution companies. I mean, what are we going to do if people just start buying music directly from the people who make it???

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 12/05/2006 - 06:14
>>Could you listen to the songs I have on my MySpace page and give me your opinion? The recordings aren't great, but the songs are all mine.
OK-I had a chance to listen to your music. My favorite cuts are 2 & 4 (I think they are called Tatoo and Someday?). Your voice sounds better on No.4 than any other cut. However, I have to say that your songwriting skills are far ahead than your singing skills.

Vocally, there are many issues of picth, sustain and delivery that make the performance not convincing. Whereas, the songs have enough bones to them and could easily be worked into a more finished product which, in the right hands, could bring some commercial rewards.

It depends on what you want to do, I suppose.

If you want to work as a songwriter my suggestion would be to find a REAL producer (or several) in your area and get different opinions. Eventually, you might meet one that wants to work with some of your material. Even if they change it substantially (and most of them probably would, to some degree or another) you would still get credits and points. It would be a good start.

Whatever you do keep on doing what you love and the rest is, shall we say...purely coincidental :)

Member for

15 years

Croakus Tue, 12/05/2006 - 08:04
Thank you for taking the time to listen to my songs. I agree 100% with your assessment. Ten years ago I was a trained vocalist, but over the years I've developed some really horrible habits. I plan to start working with a vocal coach again in January to address some of these problems. I don't expect to ever be famous as a performer, but I want to be able to properly perform my music in the small venues I do play.

You're opinion about my songwriting is a huge ego boost for me. Songwriting has always been something I did when I felt "inspired," without much conscious decision making in the process. However, over the last three years I've made a concerted effort to improve my skills. I've been reading a lot, writing every day, comparing my songs to popular music, etc.

Being just down the road from Nashvegas, I'm planning to attend some songwriting events this coming year and maybe start playing a few open mics, and book a gig here and there. Who knows?

Member for

15 years

Croakus Tue, 12/05/2006 - 15:25
My brother lives in Franklin. V.A. loans make a big difference when you're picking out your next house.

We need to keep in touch and get together after you move. I owe you a few beers for sharing your experiance with me. If you don't drink, I know a few great places to eat. My email is

You've really got my brain going with regard to my demos. I'm going to take another shot at recording this weekend, and spend a lot more time on the vocals. I've been so focused on learning how to use my new hardware that I haven't properly warmed up or practiced the songs before putting them down.

Member for

20 years 8 months

MadMax Wed, 12/06/2006 - 05:05
Digit and Croakus, (et al)

EXCELLENT dialogue!!!!

The whole industry is upside-inside. With the digital technology, there's a new paradigm rumbling to the surface that the majors are trying to head-off at the pass.

The reason "they" are after the internot is because of the "My-Space's" out there. There's a LOT of money being earned that that isn't going into the coffer's of the greedy bastards in the large corps. It's just such small chunks of change generated by the small guys, that they're into stealing pennies... e.g. middleman requirements.

What it's going to take is a LOT of co-operation among artists, producers, promoters, studios and venues all acrosss the globe.

In my particular case, I'm putting a LOT of effort in getting my studio put together to allow webcasts, webhosting and another idea that I'd like to amend to the thread for consideration...

I posed this to a couple of other sites and got zero response, but I KNOW it's the right thing to do;

What about a website/forum for the afforementioned that has essentially a series of fora for things like tour support, promotion, distribution, venues/gigs and the like... e.g.

Lists of hotels, repair garages, restaraunts w/rating of services
Printers, duplicators, promotional items (T-Shirts, mugs, tour jackets, etc)
Engineers and producers; studios and a rating systems for services, etc
Studios/Technology; similar to/partnership with engineers and producers...
Gigs to share; THIS could be a real windfall for artists -

The gigs to share concept is where smaller regional tours can be organized by the "member" bands/artists. There's strength in numbers. If it can get organized correctly, then it let's lots of acts get their name out and making some waves and build fans... which leads to income from sales of merch.

Let's face it. There's more to be made from merch than anything else. No artist can make enough money to live off of performing. Performances are primarily for getting your merch out there to sell.


Member for

15 years

Croakus Wed, 12/06/2006 - 06:48
When I was 19 I put together a demo of my music and shopped it around Nashville for a couple years. Dealing with "The Machine" made me very frustrated and jaded. I decided that it was more important to me to be happy playing my music and work a day job than constantly fight with it.

As I am riding into my 30's I'm beginning to understand some of the business side of things. Working for a few large corporations has helped with that. I'm also able to see exactly where the business is not serving the interests of the musician or the listener. We are fed an endless supply of formula songs determined to be marketable by pin-head middle managers. These mass manufacture songs are sung by manufactured performers designed like cars to look and perform just right.

Would I be willing to sell my songs to these people and cash the royalty checks while they twist it through the machine? Heck yeah. I can write more songs, and I’m more than happy to take their dough.

BUT I also see the changes coming hard and fast. I have a $2,000 home studio that, from a technology standpoint, can produce the same quality recordings as anything in Nashville (the only limit is my ability to work this equipment; which is a pretty big limit). I have the ability to reach a mass audience through the Internet for little or no money. I have the ability to produce professional quality cover art using my digital camera and an $80 graphics program from CompUSA. I can get 1,000 professionally produced CD's for under $1,500. If I am willing to use a service like CDBaby, my music will be on iTunes right next to the bands in whom Sony is investing millions of dollars.

The term "Indie" used to be something of a joke. It used to mean "doesn't have a contract yet." It used to mean the tape is $10 at the table in the back and the J-card is a black and white photo copy.

Now the term "Indie" means "doesn't need a contract." Musician's can produce their own CD's now that look and sound every bit as good as anything the big dogs can make. We can promote ourselves to millions of people all around the globe and sell our music to them using services like PayPal that only require two brain cells and a bank account to use.

Now I’m starting to think I might be able to enjoy the music business. It’s finally being wrestled from the hands of the pointy haired bureaucrats. It’s getting interesting again.

Edit: I should also point out that I think there are a lot of great people working in the music business. It is the practices of a few large companies that bother me.

Member for

15 years

Croakus Wed, 12/06/2006 - 07:06
I also meant to respond to your "Gigs to share" concept when I got carried away by my rant.

The bands I know who are touring the southeast are doing exactly that. They are partnering with each other and marketing shows as a two-act deal, or an opener. Of course they're only making enough to pay for gas and meals.

These guys are getting their names and faces in front of a lot of people this way. People who probably wouldn't have found them. It's making a difference in the CD sales too.