• Randy McGravey

CD Baby Deals and Sync Licensing (What You Should Know)

I've seen people ask this question a lot and wanted to address it.


"Can you license your music if you publish it through CD Baby or a similar service?"


CD Baby has a few different options for ways to publish your music through their platform. I personally have been using CD Baby for my "artist" releases for the past 7 years. Below are some of their options and add-ons, and what they mean for sync licensing abilities. I've included my opinions and experiences with these considerations.


Standard Album vs. Pro Album - Standard album is all you will need. I've had experience with both, and the "benefit" from a Pro album is basically that they will collect YOUR publishing share from your PRO and give you back most of it. If you register your tracks with your PRO, you will get this money anyway and you don't need to give them a cut.


Collect YouTube Money - The way they collect money from YouTube is by putting your music into the Content ID system. This may seem like a good idea, but it is very hard to undo and often "blacklists" your music from many libraries and sync opportunities. In my opinion you should avoid it, because other avenues are more profitable and more likely to get you sync placements. It is better to get dollars from placements than pennies from YT streaming!


Collect Sync Money - CD Baby has a supposed system for getting sync placements. I've personally been a part of this and have seen pennies from Facebook, and that is all. I'm sure someone out there is making some money from this, but I haven't personally known anyone who has. In my opinion you are better off not doing this service, as they may enter your music into the AdRev or Content ID system.


Collect Facebook and Instagram Money - This is similar to both of the options listed above. You might get pennies a year, but you are better off avoiding this option if you are serious about licensing your music. Content ID registrations can cause problems for clients who want to use your music in their projects.


Don't Collect Additional Revenue - This is my personal choice when I release an album. This doesn't get you tied up with Content ID. The standard album option with this choice gives you the most freedom and costs the least.


Other things to consider:


"Should I release my production music on CD Baby before submitting to exclusive libraries?"


No. Exclusive libraries will want to be the first and only publisher of this music (hence the exclusivity). They will have no interest if the tracks already have ISRC's, copyright claims, publishing claims, etc. To submit music to exclusive libraries you should use a service like Soundcloud or Disco.


"Should I release my production music on CD Baby before submitting to non-exclusive libraries?"


You can if you want. Check a non-exclusive music library's terms and conditions/composer agreements before submitting music that has a Content ID registration. In my experience, probably 80% of non-exclusive libraries won't allow you to submit Content ID registered tracks. If your music doesn't have Content ID, and the library isn't taking any publishing share, then you are in the clear! If a library does take a publishing share, they will re-title the track (most likely with some kind of code) and you will get a "new" track registered to your PRO. If they see "CD Baby Pro" or something similar as the publisher, it is possible the library WON'T be able to claim the publishing, and you will lose out on the opportunity. The option that gives you the most freedom is to do the most basic deal on CD Baby.


Should I get my own ISRC's or have them assign one for me?


It is preferred for you to get your own ISRC's for the sake of owning the rights to the track. When they apply their own ISRC to your track, they are using their unique code which means it is their property. To get your own ISRC code visit https://usisrc.org/ and sign up. You will pay a one time fee of $95 to get your own unique code, and you can assign ISRC codes to your music for life! Having a code allows you to assign 100,000 ISRCs per year, and is well worth it in my opinion. I would recommend this regardless of which service you use to release music (Distrokid, CD Baby, etc.). Of course, you could use CD Baby's assigned ISRCs if you don't plan on releasing a lot of music.


Conclusion


Some of the wording on CD Baby (in my opinion) is intended to get inexperienced musicians excited about the possibility of different revenue streams. While some of their add-ons might be legit, they are not ideal for someone hoping to get sync licensing deals. I don't believe that you need to "release" your production music on a service such as CD Baby. Good music libraries have clients, and publishing/shopping music is what they do best! For your artist music, I suggest the standard deal so that you can have options for sync licensing and you can own the rights to your music.


I hope you found this post helpful!


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