A question I see crop up time and time again from bands is where should their music be. Having used quite a lot of platforms I answer with bandcamp. Here’s why.
It actually benefits artists as it’s for the artists. Other platforms are obviously there to make money – it’s all about the consumer and not us. That’s why there’s a lot of Spotify hate right now, but hey that might change in the future. Bandcamp’s outlook is artist first.
The main reason is control. With bandcamp you can instantly dive back in, change prices (even free or discounted), edit titles or even remove forever. With platforms such as Spotify and iTunes once you have uploaded them they’re pretty much untouchable, unless you submit to arduous processes via the publisher.
My favourite reason to use bandcamp is the social aspect. I LOVE how you can see who has supported your music via the reviews and little fan account squares underneath the artwork. That’s just amazing, not just as an artist but as a fan. Just by clicking on one of those supporter’s avatars I can see what kind of music they’re into which is really cool.
In my last blog I talked about how I have a problem with music discovery by algorithms and how it’s more of an experience, or word of mouth that should take precedence over an equation. Well with the fan accounts you can delve into another person’s collection and if you like what they like you can choose to follow them. From then on you get to see all of their purchases via email or feed. That’s pretty much a better ‘virtual experience’ to me. AI isn’t making recommendations, it’s people. I guess I’m looking at it as a modern day High Fidelity where our music collection gets to define us.
Another great reason to push bandcamp is gathering email addresses. Whether people buy or download for free you can choose whether or not they have to leave an email address. For me this is vitally important. I’ve said this before but a mailing list is more important than likes on Facebook or followers on twitter as you the artist have the overall control.
Bandcamp has simple statistics that show you how many of your tracks have been played, where they have been played from and what has been downloaded/bought. It’s pretty basic in terms of analytics but incredibly useful.
So what would I like to see next on bandcamp? Being able to re-download purchases. I know we’re edging toward an mp3-less future but hey, I’d like the option. Some fan page additions like highlighting particular current favourites or having the ability to build up credits (a bit like reddit gold) to spend on their own or artists pages in interesting ways. Basically anything that encourages people to cherish their collections and spread recommendations .
Now I’m not saying your music shouldn’t be on iTunes of Spotify. It should. But as these are pretty much static social environments at the moment just leave it there and utilise bandcamp and use it as a fan! I’ve used it for both of my bands (Wired to Follow & MINIONTV) from the beginning and haven’t found anything better/enjoyable yet.
Comment below if you agree/don’t agree, have a question or have something to add.
UPDATE – Bandcamp now allows you to re-download purchases. Just log into your fan account and highlight a release. You should now see a ‘re-download’ link. – Many thanks to Ben from bandcamp for letting us know in the comments below.