Business News Deals Labels & Publishers

Downtown Music buys CD Baby

By | Published on Thursday 28 March 2019

CD Baby

Downtown Music has bought DIY distribution firm CD Baby, boosting the range of services the group offers artists and songwriters, especially at the grass roots level, while also expanding the company’s interests in recorded music and other digital services.

Downtown Music Holdings is actually buying the AVL Digital Group, which, as well as CD Baby, includes AdRev, DashGo and Soundrop, that together offer self-releasing artists and smaller labels advertising, marketing and licensing services. The deal doesn’t include AVL’s physical product companies Disc Makers, BookBaby and Merchly, which will be spun off into a separate company owned by the Disc Makers management team.

Since the Downtown Records label split off to become a separate business in 2013, the focus of Downtown Music has been songs, it becoming a significant independent music publisher in its own right, while also providing administration services to thousands of other publishers and self-published writers through its Songtrust division. Though it does also have a recording studio and offers neighbouring rights services, administrating performing rights income on the recordings side.

But through the acquisition of CD Baby and its associated companies, Downtown becomes a significant player in the distribution of sound recordings as well.

CD Baby was early to market with a business that helped DIY artists distribute their music, its very name confirming that it all began pre-digital. As a US business it has always had a North American skew, though it has started to hire staff elsewhere in the world in recent years, and is still used by plenty of artists in countries where it has no formal base.

Of course, digital distribution is an increasingly competitive business, with some of the streaming services moving into the distribution space, while some distributors are expanding the services they offer and moving more into label territory. But CD Baby remains a key player in the grass roots distribution sector and sits well alongside Downtown’s Songtrust on the songs side. Indeed the two companies already had a partnership.

Confirming the deal for AVL, CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux said: “This transaction will allow us to take the services we offer the independent music community to the next level. We are excited to continue to build leading platforms that help artists release, promote and monetise their music all around the world”.

Meanwhile Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz added: “Tracy and his team have built a portfolio of music businesses operating at unmatched scale. AVL’s technology, diverse offerings and artist-first approach are well-positioned to power some of the fastest growing segments of the industry. Beyond shared values, the acquisition of AVL expands upon our existing portfolio and represents Downtown’s strategy of developing and investing in preeminent music businesses serving the full spectrum of music creators”.