#121: Justin Kalifowitz – All About CD Baby Pro

CD Baby Pro - The PodcastMusic publishing is arguably the most confusing (and important) aspect of the music business. What kinds of royalties are you owed as a songwriter? Which royalties do performing rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI collect for you? Why is it so hard for independent artists to collect some of the money they’re owed? In this episode of CD Baby’s DIY Musician Podcast, we talk with publishing expert Justin Kalifowitz (SongTrust) and get the answers to all these questions and more — plus, we’ll discuss how CD Baby Pro solves many of these problems for artists with one simple solution.

Have a question or comment for the show? Email us at podcast@cdbabypodcast.com, or call our listener line at 360-524-2209


  • steady on guys – you need to ease yourself back into it!!!

  • kbreuner

    It’s the sprint before the long marathon.

  • I have been with CD Baby since 2007 and my total revenue in 6 years on 3 CDs is $83.92 . (Yea I am not famous) I hate the idea of leaving pennies on the table. But really at what point does it make sense to spend the $$$ to go pro?

    P.S. Thanks for the $83.92 … I LOVE CD Baby!

  • Paul Steward

    Hey Ronnie,

    do you collect performance royalties from BMI or ASCAP? I do. I play about 100 concerts a year, in casino lounges and clubs. I sing my songs often and report the performances to the BMI Live program, which gives me about $1 every time I sing one of my songs (both writer and self publishers share together {200%}). But I have very few online sales, so if I signed up with CD Baby Pro, they would take 15% of my performance royalties and because my online sales are so low the mechanical royalties they collect for me wouldn’t make up the cost of losing that 15% from performance royalty. Mechanical royalties is only about 9 cents per song download, less the 15% you only get 7.65 cents.

    I would recommend signing up directly with BMI or ASCAP as a writer and self publisher (not a “glamour” publishing co.) and file all your performances so you can report when you sing your songs, they will pay you for that directly.

    Now, if you have lots of downloads and streams around the world, enough to match your performances, then the new income of mechanical royalties might offset the loss of 15% performance royalties.

    Just a little info.

  • kbreuner


    Just a point of clarification. CD Baby Pro only collects the publishing half of your performance royalties. The songwriter portion is paid directly to you from your performing rights organization. Depending on which one you are with, they might require you have a publishing company to get the publishing portion. It’s different with each.

    There was an interesting article that was posted stating that ASCAP and BMI (performance royalties) are only about 30% of publishing royalties available to the songwriter. With so many more royalties coming online in the digital age, I think there is incredible value in real publishing administration.

  • I could imagine, that as long as CDBaby and the other collection societies continue to exist, it’s best to look at the value of your music over time. It may cost $100 today, but how much will your songs be worth 20 years from now?

  • Thank you for this podcast. A lot of my concerns have been cleared up.

  • Is cd baby pro only for america??? Cause i cant seem to upgrade from cd baby to cd baby pro….😫

  • DesFly

    Hi can you own your publishing company and also use cd baby pro, what is the percentage difference and the conflict in between those two ? Also what if your signed with Ascap and with cd baby what is the percentage difference and the conflict in between those ?

  • Robert Lee King

    Unfortunately, cdbaby is trying to be a middle man. They are both uninformed and poorly suited to the job but, still trying for the all mighty dollar. Soundscan and others monitor play royalties, all the rest are middle men trying to steal a piece of your work.

  • Robert Lee King

    Don’t waste your money. Its just another layer that will never benefit you.

  • Robert Lee King

    i have been a cdbaby artist since 2003. I have made just over 30 dollars. I sold a thousand cd’s locally.

  • Robert Lee King

    Pass through royalties? This guest is a liar.

  • Robert Lee King

    Another freakin salesman? Come on cdbaby,,,,

  • Robert Lee King

    ASCAP and BMI are GLOBAL morons.

  • hrflikk

    SPOILER ALERT.SPOILER ALERT. ppl dont buy music anymore,95% is streaming. Spotify,youtube,wimp.pandora. cdbaby PRO is the only one thats colects royalties from streaming and radio. Its 99 dollar for one album, one time fee. Yes it exspensive, buts it no other alternatives. I dont care about sellig, i whant ti earn when ppl stream my music.

  • hrflikk

    Whats the point?? Il tell you why! Nobody buys mp3,flac. ect.ect anymore. People just stream (spotify,wimp,pandora, ect.ect) in europa its like 95%, in the us its only 10%, but getting higer. In asia its problably 99% torrent, lol. In africa, i dont now! Drop digital sales, go for stream income!!!

  • Chance-Erica Williams

    Isn’t songtrust your competitor? Being another publisher? Can you use multiple publishers? And would that make sense?

  • kbreuner

    SongTrust powers our publishing company, so no, they are not a competitor. To answer your second question, the average artist/songwriter is only going to have one publisher. There are scenarios where multiple publishers can be involved, but that would be a scenario where each publisher owns a portion of the song. For instance, if you’re a professional song writer and you co-write with another songwriter that has their own publishing deal, there would be several publishers involved. It makes things far more complex.

  • Chance-Erica Williams

    Ohhhh okay. Thank you so much for clearing that up man! CDbaby has been so helpful. Thank you thank you thank you. Your awesomeness is unparalleled.

  • Cathy

    Hi, May I know if I have 5 songs haven’t got recorded into CD, but I wish to have my songs pitch online, what should I do to have my songs collect more royalties in a save way which I don’t required to?