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VV Show #19 - Derek Sivers of CD Baby

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Derek Sivers

Many would-be tech titans dream day and night about how their hot new idea will change the world. Derek Sivers just wanted to have his independent band's CDs sold over the Web. No one would do it, so he built his own music store. CD Baby now generates $25 million a year in revenue and is the single largest digital distributor of music in the world according to Napster. And he did it without a dime in venture capital. Derek holds true to some very basic beliefs in business and a desire to keep revolutionizing the music industry.

Show notes:

1:30 Career as a musician and the birth of CD Baby

  • Studied at Berklee College of Music.
  • Got a job at Warner Brothers in New York City.
  • 'Was working inside the music industry just enough to know I didn't like that side of things.'
  • 'I was in a circus for 10 years.'

9:00 The importance of automation

10:30 Advice for starting a business

  • 'Just give yourself a 10 day deadline, and just launch it' with almost no features.'

11:45 Training for business in the circus
  • 'It was actually really good training that I had a boss that was just an idiot.'
  • 'I'm usually the least slacker-like one in the crowd.'

15:00 Rebellion
  • 'CD Baby is a total rebellion against the traditional world of distribution.'

18:30 Building a business in an unconventional way
  • 'The joke is that CD Baby is run with all the corporate formality of Bob and Jimmy's tackle shop in Key Largo.'

20:30 Is building a business easy?

24:15 Company size

  • About $25 million in revenue by 50 employees.

24:40 Steve Jobs encounter
  • Integrated CD Baby with iTunes.

28:00 Competition
  • 'The cool thing is we're friends with them all.'
  • Mentions friendly competitor IODA.
  • Loves the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.

34:15 No investors
  • 'During the dot com days you kind of had to whack 'em [investors] off with a stick.'

40:40 Working with musicians

43:30 Location
  • Started business in Woodstock, NY.
  • 'I was up in the mountains with a 56k modem.'
  • 'I was about to pick San Francisco until I realized what it cost.'
  • Moved to Portland, OR.

45:45 Rebelling

Posted by Greg Galant on Nov 8, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (5)

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference VV Show #19 - Derek Sivers of CD Baby:

» CD Baby - off topic from Pure Play
This one stems from a podcast I listened to during the week - Derek Sivers of CDBaby on Venture Voice. Cd Baby is a little online record store that sells CDs by independent musicians. The twist is that they also [Read More]

Tracked on November 13, 2005 11:55 AM

» Venture Voice Interviews CD Baby Founder Derek Sivers from ProHipHop - Hip Hop Business News
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» Venture Voice Podcast: Derek Sivers of CD Baby from Business Opportunities Weblog
This week on Venture Voice: Many would-be tech titans dream day and night about how their hot new idea will change the world. Derek Sivers just wanted to have his independent band's CDs sold over the Web. No one would do it, so he built his own mu... [Read More]

Tracked on November 16, 2005 12:21 AM

» Interview with Derek Sivers on Venture Voice from microISV
Venture Voice has posted a podcast interview with Derek Sivers who I previously profiled here on microISV.com. One of the good quotes from the interview that many of us can benefit from: 'Just give yourself a 10 day deadline, and just launch it'... [Read More]

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Great show. Interview was more interesting than past episodes.

Posted by: Jimmy Shen at November 11, 2005 3:03 PM

Great interview. Always wanted to know more about Derek and his business!

Posted by: Corey James Scribner at November 20, 2005 10:29 PM

Wow. Derek Silvers is my hero.

It shows how messed up the business world is that it takes a rebel to counteract greed and treat artists right (and make himself and many others successful in the process).

I just started my own business and it's going fantastically, but now all I want to do is work for CD Baby!

Please, Derek! Hire me! I'll sweep the floors! I'll transcribe music into digital format one bit at a time! Anything!

Posted by: topfunky at December 11, 2005 2:36 PM

Excellent interview, I very much enjoyed it.

Ande Rasmussen

Posted by: Ande Rasmussen at January 12, 2006 11:41 AM

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