#140: Roundtable – The Biggest Album launch in History?

U2 and Apple Album releaseIn this edition of the remarkably entertaining and educational DIY Musician Podcast, The Bolt has a baby, Kevin launches a fan funding campaign (and gains a few grey hairs in the process) and the Podcasters discuss the surprise album release by U2. U2 partnered with Apple to give all iTunes users free access to their newest album. Apple and U2 are calling this the largest record release of all time. But not everybody is happy about the way Apple went about it.

In the news: CD Baby launches CD Baby Free! Now you can sell music on CDBaby.com without signup fees. More info on CD Baby Free here. Soundcloud is getting in the advertising game and select artists may reap the benefits. But will Soundclouds changes benefit indie musicians? Also . . . streaming music subscribers are growing in leaps and bounds.

Tune in for all this goodness and more!

  • Hey CDBaby Podcast,

    I’ve been noticing that our Twitter account has been automatically posting links to your articles. How is this being done? I would really like it to stop as it’s a bit worrisome that someone, or some bot, has access to our Twitter even after changing the password multiple times.

    I tried sending you an e-mail but got an auto-response about it not being used any longer so I’ll just post here. I attached a screenshot of the most recent tweet linking to post #140. Here is also an Imgur link in case it doesn’t display correctly: http://imgur.com/p0hOjwG

    Thanks in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.


  • Robert Lee King

    Congrats to the Bolt and his spouse on their new baby. Welcome to the quarter million dollar debt club:)

    The U2 thing I have mixed feelings about. I was excited to hear the new material and happy that it was a better mix/mastered version than the handwritten label would hint at in general. I’m sure they’ll do very well with this release though I have to admit, I’m not a fan and haven’t been since Achtung Baby. Also, I can’t help but always remember the South Park episode every time I see or hear Bono.

    Kevin made mention about removing or hiding things in your iTunes purchases. Sorry Kevin, you are mistaken. Purchases are there forever. Even returned items still show up as having been purchased. This is largely an accounting thing but, it also serves to prevent loss of that digital content due to a hard drive failure or lost device.

    Soundcloud to me is kind of a nothing burger… It used to be convenient to share a track or two but now it’s just too convoluted to be useful. And I don’t really see indies ever making any money from their new advertising model. Too small of an audience in general and advertisers for better or worse are looking for optimal saturation.

    The Superbowl nonsense was predictable and obviously never going to fly. Why would a big name ever pay them to appear for free, truck in all of their gear and staging and pay their cartage people to load it all back up and haul it away. Yes, that event is great for
    grabbing attention but, football fans generally aren’t going to run out and buy that artists music just because they saw them on the half time show.

    Besides, outside of the game, the commercials are far more important and garner the most viewers because they are one offs specific to the airing of the big game.

    CDBaby Free? Does CDBaby really sell enough digital downloads to make that work?

    All of that aside, good podcast guys. One thing though, you might want to work on the production a bit. The sound quality is very sketchy lately.

  • Jungle Gym Jam

    Mazel Tov to The Bolt & Family! If you’re ever going to make a kids-and-family (“kindie”) album, these are the years that would inspire it!

    About the podcast discussion, we seem to be entering an era like early TV where content was free to the public and creators were paid by sponsors who wanted to get in front of their audiences. This is exactly what U2 and Apple did. We all know indie artists aren’t about to get $10M deals with Apple to distribute to 500M account holders, but the implications for what can be done within a niche are exciting for indie artists. I’ve got a confirmed sponsored performance and some good prospects for another in the works.

    If you form appropriate and relevant partnerships, everyone gets what the want: The audience gets a free or subsidized performance, album, song, etc., the sponsor gets to form relationships with suitable, potentially interested customers in their niche, and the artist gets paid.

    As long as your audience understands that the album (or show) is free because it’s the sponsor’s treat, and not because the artist has surrendered the notion of his/her creations having value, this can get you in front of more people to build that relationship and continue increasing your value to your sponsors and your audience.

  • kbreuner

    Don – That’s very weird! The only way I know that something like that could even be happening is if you used sort of app that auto posts stuff to your twitter account. You would have to give it permission. You probably will find something in your Twitter settings. We don’t have any sort of spammy thing pushing that out (we’re nowhere near that high tech). Let us know if you figure it out!

  • kbreuner

    Robert – Thanks for weighing in! Yes, the audio quality has been frustrating lately. We’ve been trying to record the roundtables using Google Hangouts, and that has presented a number of audio quality issues. I also bought a USB mic that was supposed to be highly recommended by podcasters, and after several recordings, I’m pretty sure it’s defective. It clips constantly. I’ve been trying to make sure the podcast gets done, so the key for us is making it as simple as possible. If you have any suggestions, we’re open to them!

  • John Walker

    Let me also add my congrats to the Bolt and Ms. Bolt on becoming parental units!

    Back to the U2 thing – the anger over getting a free U2 album was baffling to me as well Kevin. I would call myself a casual fan, but I thought it was a nice gesture and I’ve enjoyed listening to the songs. There’s a certain segment of old, bitter, mostly white males who are U2 haters strictly because of Bono’s activism; these guys seem the most vocal of the folks that are pissed off. (Disclaimer: I am 50, very white, and bitter about other stuff, but not free songs from U2.) These guys would hate U2 anyway, so they’re not in the target market. I don’t think pissing them off hurts the band at all.

    If they generate some catalog sales and maybe increase ticket sales for their tour, it was probably worth doing even if nobody buys the album at all.

    I can see the whole issue of it devaluing music as well; we’re already being battered from all sides about how we should give our music away from various music marketing and publicity firms, and I’ve tried this myself. From my point of view, it did absolutely nothing to give my songs away. It’s almost like if you give it away free, the public won’t value it because you don’t. If they have to steal it, they still get it free, but against the man’s wishes, so that ups the cool factor I guess?

    Anyway, just some random thoughts. Enjoy the podcast, and thanks for giving us this platform to get our music out to people!



    enjoyed the latest episode – especially the information about Soundcloud and the API opt in/out. Since it took me a bit of poking around to find that on their site, perhaps you could please post the link so others can easily find it? I am not sure if I can post a link here or not.
    I love your insight regarding the release of U2 and getting it out the most people to hear your music, then the money will follow. Thats what Soundcloud used to be. (still is, kinda) Does anyone have alternative streaming site suggestions? I am on a pro plan, and direct people to the site frequently. If ads start popping up on my tunes, I know it will drive away eyes and ears…
    thanks for all you do!

  • Robert Lee King

    Kevin, I know this is the modern age and all but, realistically, the only way to make a live event sound good, is if everyone involved is within the same room. USB mic’s by the way, usually have latency settings that can help though personally I would never use a USB device for any serious audio input, just too slow. If you three must be in different locales for the show, might I suggest a script… Pass the script around and with a bit of clever editing, no-one would be the wiser.

  • kbreuner

    Jefrey – I think putting a QR code on a poster is a great thing. Check out this video I did on that very thing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7DG_YrL5Jc&list=PL7B7A13DB3D4628B2

    Also, by law you are required to pay a royalty for any song you use that is not your own. Doesn’t matter if it’s free or not. The type of royalty depends on the type of usage. That being said, sites like YouTube have turned this whole issue into a grey area as they are not paying many of the royalties associated with how the music is being used on their site.

    My advice would be to only use covers songs on YouTube, or through traditional retail outlets (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and more). It’s possible that the entity that owns the song might block you video on YouTube, but chances are they’ll just monetize it.

  • kbreuner

    Tony – Sounds like SoundCloud is only going to run ads on what they consider premium content providers. That won’t last long though. They’ll have to roll it out to everyone soon.

    We now have CD Baby Free and our new music player, so if you just want a place to park tracks and put them in a great player, I would suggest doing that.

  • kbreuner


    Thanks for sharing. I agree that the free thing can be very perplexing like you say.

    I’m honestly not sure where I sit on the idea of free and what U2 did “devaluing music.” What an artist needs is someone to drive awareness of their music. Once there is awareness, then they are able to monetize further. In the past it was done by spending a bunch of money to get a song on the radio (if you were lucky enough to be chosen). This would hopefully drive album sales and pay off the debt created by the radio promotion. So instead of paying off a debt owed to a label, maybe free is similar in that there is a cost to drive awareness of music. Only after people are “aware” and listening, are we able to really monetize our efforts. That’s what I’m thinking right now. Tomorrow it might change.

  • concertblast

    Can artists load cover songs to the CD Baby Free player?