All in the family: the powerful connection between CD Baby and BookBaby

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5 Star Points for Success“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”

RICHARD BACH, Illusions

When we launched BookBaby back in 2011 we had a strategy to get the word out about our new brand:

“Book Barnstorming” – traveling across the country to book fairs, trade shows, author conferences and more. The BookBaby team pitched our products and services to thousands of would-be authors, talking up our global eBook distribution, our payout of 100% of net sales back to authors, and all the rest.

Most folks listened politely, nodded pleasantly – and little more than that. Invariably there was one key line in our pitch that turned the conversation around:

“Our sister company is CD Baby, the indie music giant….”

“Oh! CD Baby!,” they would exclaim, suddenly more engaged. “Of course! I know them!” And the lights would go on. People would launch into their own stories about buying music from CD Baby or how their brother’s band has their music on the website, and a 100 more stories like it.

Connection made: BookBaby was already part of the family.

Family is a familiar theme during the holiday season. The word conjures up memories, warmth and happiness. Beyond that, being ‘family’ speaks to trust, honesty, reputation and familiarity. It’s an everlasting bond.

It’s no stretch to say that CD Baby and BookBaby are practically joined at the hip. The two brands share a Portland, Oregon office with adjoining call center slots. Many BookBaby staff members started their careers on the music side. Both brands work with many of the same retail partners such as Amazon and Apple.

The ‘Baby brands share something else – customers. It’s not surprising that musicians would also be authors, and vice versa. It’s the epitome of true “crossover artists” as each medium supports the message and meaning of the other.

For one of those versatile musician authors, family is the main reason why she found her calling in life. Oya Thomas is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, actress and musical mentor. Her debut album, Spirit of OYA, is described as a fusion project of R&B/Soul, Gospel, Jazz and Funk. Oya says it’s a musical depiction of her own journey, filled with life, love, inspiration and light.

“Music was a big deal in my household for as long as I can remember,” said Oya when I interviewed her earlier this month. “I started singing at 3. I would hear my my mom singing gospel songs all day, my father would be singing in church and my brother was in a boy’s choir. It’s what I grew up around.”

But it wasn’t until a sad family milestone occurred that music was brought back into her life in a more meaningful way.

“When my grandmother passed away I was asked to sing at her funeral,” she said. “I was actually really bummed out! It was my birthday and I didn’t want to do it. I was ready to have fun at a party in Mexico and instead had to be a part of a funeral.”

“It turned out to be the biggest day of my life, the biggest gift I’ve ever received,” said Oya. “Something happened in that space and time. It took me back to that time when I was a little girl, singing my heart out. I was singing from my heart, touching people in ways I didn’t know or even understand.”

“It wasn’t for money or fame. It was just for the love of it. I felt like I really reconnected with music that day. I knew from that point what I was meant to do, through my voice and words to spread light and love around the world. I’ve been completely focused on it from that day forward.”

When she completed her album in 2012 she went looking for a company that had a personal touch. “I did a lot of research about who could help me sell my CDs,” she said. “CD Baby really stood out to me because of the customer service. In this day and age everyone just wants to talk by email. Now I’m up on technology and all that but i like a real human to be in the conversation, especially the first time I’m doing something like this. They took the time and had the patience to answer all my questions.”

When her book was finished it was natural that she would “keep it in the family” and work with BookBaby. “I knew if BookBaby was anything like CD Baby then this was going to work for me,” said Oya. “It’s a little different being a book vs. a CD but it’s basically the same thing. I worked with (BookBaby customer service team member) Lori and she helped me with the whole process. There was a lot of back and forth on different things but she was completely patient and helpful.”

Oya’s new book is entitled The Five Star Points For Success: Manifest Your Dreams, Live Your Life’s Purpose. She calls it a practical guide designed to help anyone with a creative mind build a solid foundation for living an exceptional life, grounded in the core components of self: Mind, Body, Spirit, Emotions and Environment. Her book is now available for sale through her website: http://www.indiemerch.com/spiritofoya.

This is likely the first of many books from the singer/author. “Oh yes there will be more,” she said. “I had 1000s of pages of notes, and my editor had a talk with me. It was such a challenge to bring it down to just 150 pages.”

Staying within the ‘Baby family of brands allowed Oya to focus her time and efforts into crafting her messages – across both mediums.

“I’m a writer first and foremost,” she said. “I’m so fortunate to have the voice that allows me to sing the words. My songs and the book have shared philosophies and messages.”

Self-Publishing Packages

Steven Spatz
Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I have been working with one of your principals on promotion for BookBaby (printing) and now get your mail. By chance I clicked and I am forced to tell you that you peopel are inspsirational. Oya is a perfect fit for for Bookbaby people who write copy like you do, who care like you do, who share with others like you do. Ch-i-i-lls!
    Best and holiday cheer,
    Carolyn

  2. Nice post guys…! I’m sure there are many more artists like Oya out there. I for one – really stoked to be a part of both cdbaby and BookBaby for my music and my books. I live on the other side of the world in deepest darkest Africa and I’ve been with cdbaby for around ten years or so and hopefully many more to come. You guys rock…!

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