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Derek Sivers: Why I Gave CDBaby to Charity

HUNT VALLEY, Md. ( TheStreet) -- To celebrate the release of my book The Ultimate Financial Plan, co-written with Jim Stovall, I invited four entrepreneurs, bloggers and authors who've been an inspiration me to share some of their feelings on personal finance. I can't tell you how honored I am that any of them, much less all four, accepted my invitation.

We kick off today with a post that will blow your mind from entrepreneur and best-selling author Derek Sivers, also a musician with enough technical ingenuity, passion and vision to have truly changed the way music is delivered today. You've probably benefited from his work without even knowing it.

Derek Sivers created CD Baby, then gave it away in exchange for the minimum legal annual return from a charitable trust.

Frustrated there were no online outlets for independent musicians (meaning most of the musicians out there who haven't received a big record contract), Derek created one -- first simply to sell MP3s of his own music. After a few other bands asked if he could replicate the trick on their websites, he realized he could create a company to do it; a few years later, Apple's (AAPL) famed Steve Jobs, was knocking on Derek's door asking him to make his extensive online library of independent music available on iTunes.

At the peak of his success, Derek felt the call to leave his baby -- CD Baby -- in the qualified hands of others. He sold the company for $22 million. (Not bad for a "struggling musician.") But get this -- he had already placed CD Baby in a trust that would irrevocably give the proceeds to charity. Here's a piece of his story he was kind enough to share:

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