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Indie Music Leader CD Baby Chooses Trolley as Artist Payout Partner

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Having reached an all-time artist payout milestone of $1 Billion in 2021, CD Baby is now leveraging Trolley and its line-item Invoices feature to efficiently pay artists—and reduce transaction costs by 40%


TORONTO, CANADA – Tuesday, May 17th, 2022 ​– Trolley, the payouts platform for the internet economy, today announced its selection by CD Baby as payout partner for its global roster of 1.2 million recording artists.

One of the largest distributors of independent music in the world, CD Baby has paid out over $1 billion to independent artists worldwide in its 24 years of operation—and that number is only accelerating.

“The music industry is very different today than even five years ago. Independent music makes up almost half of all releases today. We’re seeing more and more artists looking to us to help them monetize their passion,” says Christine Barnum, CD Baby’s Chief Revenue Officer.

Currently boasting over 10 million tracks distributed via both physical and digital formats, CD Baby was looking for a platform to handle its substantial payouts needs and tax reporting requirements and grow alongside them.

“This volume of artist payouts was becoming a significant challenge until we integrated Trolley. In the first six months of working with Trolley, we’ve not only streamlined our payouts process, but we’ve improved our tax reporting workflow.”

Trolley’s API-first payouts platform eliminates manual payout processes, giving the CD Baby team all the tools they need to automate payments to their artists. And by managing all payments through a single platform, they plan to streamline their end-of-year tax process, producing and distributing 1099-MISCs and 1042-S forms from within the Trolley platform.


Line-item-level detail

With artists receiving funds from various sources, including the sale of physical albums and digital downloads (plus streaming royalties earned from the wide variety of platforms that CD Baby distributes to), line-item accounting details are consequential.

As CD Baby integrated Trolley into its platform, it also adopted one of Trolley’s latest features, Invoices.

With Invoices, Trolley allows CD Baby to create multiple “line items” of individual earnings to be paid, each with its own income type categorization. These line items can be bundled together in an invoice to make a single payment—with a single transaction fee. This means more cost-effective payouts while retaining all the necessary information for accurate end-of-year 1099 & 1042-S reporting.

“Maintaining the details and context of each payout for tax, accounting, and business reasons are essential for a smooth reconciliation process. For businesses like CD Baby, one payment per income type results in a non-optimal recipient experience, additional transaction costs, and a cumbersome process in general,” noted Barnett Klane, VP of Product at Trolley.

“Invoices resolves these issues, offering scalability within a single payment per payday. Thanks to CD Baby’s invaluable feedback as a beta partner during our development and early iterations, we were able to refine and build a powerful Invoices tool.”  

Not only was CD Baby able to leverage Invoices to reduce total payout transaction costs by about 40%, but Barnum also remarked on Trolley’s ongoing ability to step up to CD Baby’s unique challenges, “The team at Trolley has been incredible, both in terms of integration, ongoing support, and demonstrating a product roadmap that aligns with both our current requirements and our future needs.”


About Trolley

Trolley is building the payouts platform for the internet economy. With a fully customizable payout management platform and robust 1099/1042-S tax reporting suite, Trolley allows users to make and manage payments to 215+ countries in 135+ different currencies. Trolley is quickly becoming the payouts platform of choice for businesses that need to pay creators, musicians, artists, freelancers, vendors, on-demand workers, or any other supplier. More information is available at trolley.com.

About CD Baby

Home to over 1 million artists and 9 million tracks, CD Baby has paid out over $1 billion in artist royalties since its founding in 1998. CD Baby, a Downtown Music Holdings company, empowers emerging, niche, and amateur musicians with everything they need to successfully distribute, publish, promote, and monetize their music around the globe. Our expert guidance simplifies and streamlines the complexities of global music distribution through tools, partnerships, education, and 20+ years of community-building and advocacy. Our complete artist-services platform connects independent artists with new audiences and revenue streams so they can enjoy creative autonomy and thrive on their own terms. Founded and run by artists for artists, CD Baby exists to make success in the music business accessible to all.

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