CD Baby Declares Me a Waste of Space

pimmnIn 2004, I had a couple of months off between theatre gigs, and I took that rare opportunity to pour my heart and soul into the recording of my first full-length album.
This was a decidedly low-rent affair (though a huge deal for me), produced on a middle-of-the-line Dell desktop using Cakewalk Home Studio 2002, which I barely understood, and recording in the closet-nook room in my then-girlfriend’s bedroom in the theatre company’s actor housing. (I eventually got a Powerbook G4 12″, and did the last couple of tracks on Garageband version 1.) I had low-end Yamaha acoustic and electric guitars, a decent mandolin, an old-school (tiny) Tascam drum machine, and whatever else I could muddle together. I worked incredibly hard on it, and it was a true labor of love.

The result was a CD titled Paul is Making Me Nervous (a name drawn from the first line of a Toad the Wet Sprocket song), and was a huge point of pride for me. I remember how thrilled I was when the first box of 100 CDs arrived from the reproduction company, opening it up and seeing what, to me, validated my work, my creativity. It was real, tangible.

The album itself is, well, creaky. Listening to it today, it’s obviously a very amateur effort. But while it is wholly imperfect from a production standpoint (at all levels: mixing, vocal pitch screw-ups, something suddenly out of rhythm, etc.), I think it holds up rather well in terms of the songwriting and the earnestness of the performances.

I actually managed to sell around 300 or 400 copies, mostly sold while I was on tour with my theatre group, selling copies to folks at the merchandise table after shows, held mostly at colleges. A handful of tracks and albums were sold over iTunes (and I mean a literal handful), and, more to the point for this piece, a few were sold via CD Baby, the independent music seller.

Now, CD Baby is awesome. They are fair, affordable, encouraging, and sincere. I’ve never had a complaint about them, and I continue to distribute my music digitally through them, and happily so.

But today I got the following email that made me feel very small:

Hi Paul,

We have too many copies of Paul is Making Me Nervous based on our restock request history.

We can either return the excess stock to you at your expense or recycle it at no cost. . . .

We have too many copies of the following titles:

Artist: Paul Fidalgo, Album: Paul is Making Me Nervous as of 12/18/2012, you have 4 total, with excess stock of 3


CD Baby’s Inventory Management Wizards.

That’s right, my 4 remaining CDs in their stock is too much of a burden to them. Based on how my CD has sold, they can deign to allow the space for one solitary copy. CD Baby has determined that my album is a literal waste of space.

I bear them no ill will. I blame them not a jot. But, well, you know.

17 thoughts on “CD Baby Declares Me a Waste of Space”

  1. Yeah. Ouch. That has to burn just a little. Still, given some of the shit in the top 100 at any point I’d shrug and get on with life.


  2. Hey, for some reason, I love this post! LOL! So go ahead and put it online so we all can hear it. Or do a contest so that new subscribers can win a copy. You made art, my friend. And that’s always good.


  3. You know what? I still listen to the album. It’s real and honest and far more interesting than 98% if the crap that passes for music these days. So frig ’em. I love the album and am not ashamed to say so,


  4. Well, see, you’re stock is just a statistic, occupying space with other statistics.
    I don’t know your art at all, but it sounds exactly the sort of thing I like. Hell, I can listen to music, for instance, of a genre for which I don’t particularly care (or even dislike) when it is a creation of the soul (so to speak), no super-shiny sound quality necessary.
    This is possibly a bit idiosyncratic, but I also find that I frequently like listening to experimentation more so than a finished piece. I like checking out the process, even if I don’t understand it.


  5. A few years ago, I attended a conference as a newly published author. One of the vendors in the book room sold their only copy of my book and took a copy from me on consignment. If it sold, they would pay me half the sale price and keep the other half. Pretty typical, really, in these kinds of situations. At the end of the conference, they still had the book but the staff person said they would keep it and send me a check “when it sells at the store.”
    Very nice for a newb author. But a week later, a package arrived from the bookstore with my book enclosed. The store manager had decided not to stock the book after all.
    If they had found 5/8″ of an inch of shelf space and subsequently sold the book, they would have made $7.49. Instead, they spent $7.94 returning the book to me. It was worth it to them to lose money rather than stock my book.


  6. youtube pays cash for popular videos. Gangnam Style has a billion views. Ray William Johnson, worst comedian in history, makes a fortune from youtube. Just sayin…


  7. Hi Paul,This is Anna over at CD Baby! Thanks for the honest feedback. We really appreciate you choosing CD Baby to sell your music.
    All of us here decided that we should keep your CDs for now.
    Our promise is that will always retain a copy of your album in our warehouse no matter what happens.
    Our goal is to provide our artists, who are operating on an independent level, the best deal possible. As such, we do not charge annual account fees, warehouse fees, restocking fees, or any other excess fees that are typically associated with other companies. Reducing stock levels in our warehouse is a way for us to avoid those fees.
    We love what we do, and want to make sure we can continue to do it for years to come!
    Thanks again for choosing CD Baby, we truly do appreciate each and every artist who works with us!


    1. Oh, you guys! You absolutely do not need to do that. No one had bought that damn thing since Compaq was a big deal. You need not shield my ego to keep me as a customer. I’m very happy with CD Baby, and shall blog it from the rooftops. Or my office, which is nicer, really.
      But seriously, toss ’em. It’s totally okay.


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