Digital Audio Insider -- the economics of music and other digital content

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Digital Audio Insider is David Harrell's blog about the economics of music and other digital content. I write from the perspective of a musican who has self-released four albums with the indie rock band the Layaways.

My personal website has links to my LinkedIn and Google+ pages and you can send e-mail to david [at] thelayaways [dot] com.

If you enjoy this site, please consider downloading a Layaways track or album from iTunes, Amazon MP3, Bandcamp, or eMusic. CDs are available from CD Baby and Amazon.


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April 17, 2006

Indie Download Sales Breakdown
by David Harrell
Breakdown of Indie Download Sales by Online Stores
CD Baby handles the digital distribution for my band's self-released music. One thing I really like about the company is how extraordinarily open it is with the numbers.

Back in February, CD Baby head honcho Derek Sivers posted a complete breakdown of how much CD Baby has received in total (as of February 8, 2006) from the various download stores and streaming services for the indie artists it distributes. CD Baby takes a 9% cut of these revenues and then pays the remaining 91% to the artists and labels. I added a percentage column to create the following table:

Total Download Sales via CD Baby
Download Store Total Sales Percent
Apple iTunes $2,892,913 66.48%
iTunes-Europe $298,978 6.87%
Rhapsody $261,785 6.02%
iTunes-UK $230,481 5.30%
MusicNet $111,700 2.57%
MSN Music $97,337 2.24%
iTunes-Canada $93,780 2.16%
MusicMatch $85,399 1.96%
Napster $67,243 1.55%
iTunes-Japan $50,538 1.16%
Emusic $35,876 0.82%
Sony Connect $30,347 0.70%
MP3tunes $21,017 0.48%
AudioLunchbox $16,421 0.38%
iTunes-Australia $15,048 0.35%
BuyMusic $11,386 0.26%
Puretracks $9,144 0.21%
Napster-UK $5,472 0.13%
Audiolunchbox Subscription $2,929 0.07%
LoudEye $2,095 0.05%
MusicNow $1,957 0.04%
Napster-Canada $1,951 0.04%
Mperia $1,805 0.04%
NetMusic - DEAD $1,775 0.04%
Weed $1,348 0.03%
PassAlong $1,144 0.03%
Viztas - DEAD $538 0.01%
DigitalKiosk $484 0.01%
CatchMusic - DEAD $462 0.01%
DiscLogic - DEAD $229 0.01%
RuleRadio $37 0.00%
$4,351,619 100.00%

Unsurprisingly, iTunes topped the list. I was, however, somewhat amazed at just how thoroughly iTunes dominated -- if you add up the numbers for all of the iTunes regions, they represent more than 82% of the download/stream sales for CD Baby's distribution catalog. No other store even hits double digits.

The biggest surprise for me was the relatively paltry sales via eMusic. In previous posts, I've speculated about why indie musicians should do well at eMusic. My two-fold argument is that eMusic subscribers are (by default) supporters of non-major label acts and that the "use it or lose it" subscription model encourages subscribers to use their expiring downloads each month to take chances on unknown acts.

I think that logic still holds (and I expect to see the eMusic market share increase) but clearly the iTunes audience still dwarfs the audiences/subscribers to the other download stores. I'll post a follow-up later in the week with a store-by-store breakdown of our own sales. (Off the top of my head, I think eMusic fares a little better, at least for our stuff.)


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    Out Now -- "Maybe Next Year" -- The New Holiday Album:

    <a href="">Joy To The World by The Layaways</a>

    "This is a sweet treat, deliciously musical without being overbaked for mass media consumption." -- Hyperbolium

    "Perfect listening to accompany whatever holiday preparations you may be making today." -- Bag of Songs

    O Christmas Tree - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    Away In A Manger - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Bandcamp. Listen to free streams at

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    <a href="">Keep It To Yourself by The Layaways</a>

    "...about as melodic and hooky as indie pop can get." -- Absolute Powerpop

    "Their laid-back, '60s era sounds are absolutely delightening." -- 3hive

    "...melodic, garage-influenced shoegaze." -- RCRD LBL

    Where The Conversation Ends - free mp3
    January - free mp3
    Keep It To Yourself - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or CD Baby, stream it at or Napster.

    album cover art from We've Been Lost

    <a href="">Silence by The Layaways</a>

    "The Layaways make fine indie pop. Hushed vocals interweave with understated buzzing guitars. The whole LP is a revelation from the start." -- Lost Music

    "Catchy Guided by Voices-like rockers who lay it on sweetly and sincerely, just like Lionel Richie." -- WRUV Radio

    Silence - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    The Long Night - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at, Napster, or Rhapsody.

    album cover art from More Than Happy

    "These are songs that you want to take home with you, curl up with, hold them close -- and pray that they are still with you when you wake up." -- The Big Takeover

    Let Me In - free mp3
    Ocean Blue - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at, Napster, or Rhapsody.

    More Layaways downloads:

    download the Layaways at eMusic download the Layaways at iTunes

    the layaways website