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CDBaby - current issues for artists

Anne Lister 29 Sep 21 - 08:45 AM
DebC 29 Sep 21 - 11:02 AM
Stilly River Sage 29 Sep 21 - 11:27 AM
meself 29 Sep 21 - 11:51 AM
Howard Jones 29 Sep 21 - 12:19 PM
Anne Lister 29 Sep 21 - 01:20 PM
Anne Lister 29 Sep 21 - 01:22 PM
Howard Jones 29 Sep 21 - 03:10 PM
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Subject: CDBaby - current issues for artists
From: Anne Lister
Date: 29 Sep 21 - 08:45 AM

There was a time when CDBaby was a very valuable resource for independent recording artists, including many folk performers. That was when it was started by Derek Sivers, but even after his company was first sold on they continued to offer useful services, including enabling artists to put their material with digital platforms.
A couple of years ago I was asked to decide whether my "overstock" of albums should be returned to me or destroyed. It was a small quantity of CDs, and I asked CDBaby to return them, which turned out to be an expensive shipment (which I had to pay for). Within a matter of days, CDBaby sold some of their remaining stock of my albums and requested me to re-stock. This again was an expensive business and meant the sales of my albums cost me money. I complained to CDBaby about this process, and in due course they offered me some download cards as compensation.
But they're at it again. I have now been asked to decide what to do about the current "overstock". In the interest of accuracy, this "overstock" is one copy of each of the titles they are handling, and a couple more of my most recent album. I have only ever sent them albums on their request. Postage for the last album I supplied to them was in excess of £5.00 and again it meant it cancelled out any profit margin. It seems CDBaby are no longer selling physical product directly, but via Amazon Marketplace and other third party retailers.
I know I'm not the only artist to have received this email and it's clear that CDBaby have no interest in any physical distribution any more. They claim their warehouse can't cope with the number of artists they are "assisting".
I've had an online dialogue with one of their staff, and the best offer they will make to me is to continue to hold on to the extra copies of the newest album. However, the net result of this is (a) it will cost me money to have my own albums returned to me here in the UK, and (b) any future sales of these titles via CDBaby will also cost me money rather than represent any income.
This message, then, is two things - first, a warning that if you are in the US and buying albums by your favourite performers, try to deal with them directly or via Bandcamp. Albums on Amazon Marketplace (on Amazon.com) may well be coming from CDBaby, who are not behaving well. And secondly,a request - if you don't already have all of my albums and don't object to Amazon Marketplace, it would help me enormously if you would buy the last few copies being sold via CDBaby. There are three or four copies of "Astrolabe", at the time of writing, and one copy each of "Waiting for the Hero", "A Twist in the Story", "A Flame in Avalon", "Root, Seed, Thorn and Flower" and "Singing on the Wind". If none show in stock, that means someone has beaten you to it! They make good gifts, too - just a thought!
It should be obvious that after these albums are either sold or returned to me I will not be using CDBaby for any physical sales, as it is now an expensive hobby rather than a way to recoup my costs or make a profit.


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Subject: RE: CDBaby - current issues for artists
From: DebC
Date: 29 Sep 21 - 11:02 AM

Thanks, Anne. I have also received the email that Anne received and yes, it's frustrating. After thinking about it, I am going to let this sit for a while and maybe someone will also buy the THREE (!) CDs that seem to be occupying lots of reals estate on CDB shelves. I stopped filling re-stock requests back in early 2019, hoping to just sell off the THREE (!) copies they had.

Besides all the bootlegs and used copies of my CDs (and I know I am not the only musician dealing with that) I am now the only person that is selling my CDS through my website. With the exception of the THREE (!) copies via Amazon from CDBaby, all others are not sanctioned.

I agree with Anne; buy your music from the artist directly or from their recommended vendors. I also use Bandcamp for digital sales and I think they are a great company.

Deb Cowan


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Subject: RE: CDBaby - current issues for artists
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 29 Sep 21 - 11:27 AM

Can you sell them yourself on Amazon and eBay and such sites, or are the fees from each site too much?


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Subject: RE: CDBaby - current issues for artists
From: meself
Date: 29 Sep 21 - 11:51 AM

They have three of mine they don't know what to do with, too. If that's any consolation.


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Subject: RE: CDBaby - current issues for artists
From: Howard Jones
Date: 29 Sep 21 - 12:19 PM

If they hold only a handful of CDs then rather than pay to return them to the UK it might be better if they simply destroy them and you write them off. Or, rather than return them to you, could they send them to Amazon for you to sell on your own behalf?

When I set up my band's albums with CDBaby I decided that it was too expensive for them to handle physical sales, and we've handled all physical sales through Bandcamp, including international sales. However we had no previous fan base in the US, so our sales over there were few and we could easily handle them, and by paying for postage online I no longer have to queue at the Post Office.

I've no real complaints about CDBaby for digital sales.


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Subject: RE: CDBaby - current issues for artists
From: Anne Lister
Date: 29 Sep 21 - 01:20 PM

Howard - as I don't have a lot of stock of the CDs they're holding I'm very reluctant to destroy them. And yes, it would be writing off their own value and the postage I've already paid out to send them. I'd far rather not do that, but then I don't want to be in this situation anyway. They're not offering me the solution of sending them to Amazon.
I have no issue at all with queueing at our very friendly and helpful post office, but I do have a problem with the cost of the postage. Which I can factor in when I'm selling via Bandcamp or my own website, but can't adjust for in the price I receive from CDBaby - and my arrangements with CDBaby were made before the postage costs went shooting up. Also before CDBaby decided not to sell directly to purchasers and thereby reduce the amount I can receive per sale. It used to be a good solution, to sell to US customers via CDBaby, once upon a time.
I'm happy in future to work with Bandcamp and direct sales from my website - this is a short-term issue and will be resolved by the end of November. But it is very frustrating.


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Subject: RE: CDBaby - current issues for artists
From: Anne Lister
Date: 29 Sep 21 - 01:22 PM

SRS - I can't sell the stock held by CDBaby myself via Amazon or Ebay, unfortunately.
I could perhaps ask a friend in the US to receive the returned albums (reducing the shipping costs) and then send them out if I get orders for them (reducing the shipping costs). I'm working on it.


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Subject: RE: CDBaby - current issues for artists
From: Howard Jones
Date: 29 Sep 21 - 03:10 PM

Anne, I understand your frustration, but the money you spent sending them to the US has already gone, and the CDs have no financial value if you can't sell them through CDBaby and if the costs of returning them would be more than their sale value. From a purely financial point of view, it would be sending good money after bad. However if you want them back for other reasons, that is a different matter. But of course it is annoying when organisations like this change how they deal with customers, who are usually powerless to object.

If they won't sent them to Amazon then getting a friend to handle them seems the best answer. I was going to suggest that myself until I saw your reply to SRS. Good luck with it.


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