To bands – Why I prefer bandcamp and why you should too.

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.

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  • John McLaughlin

    I’d like to point out that if you still have the emails with the download links, you actually can re-download your purchases.

    • http://www.wiredtofollow.co.uk/ SMJohnston

      Brilliant, just tried that and it works, thanks! Would be great if you could do it from within bandcamp though.

  • MST

    Have you used Soundcloud, and do you see it fitting anywhere in the promotional equation?

    • http://www.wiredtofollow.co.uk/ SMJohnston

      The impression I get from non soundcloud users (non-artists) is that it’s more for demos and remixes, not an official place for releases. I think artists like soundcloud more as it’s pretty and shows off the music in a ‘techy’ way. That’s not too alluring to a listener though.

      It still has its place and blogs still love to use them to spread music so it’s a really good idea to keep your strongest tracks there but for me I’m starting to use it as gateway to your bandcamp & website.

      Not impressed by the new visual players btw, pretty ugly!

      • MST

        Thanks for the detailed response!

        I’m an aspiring independent musician who wants feedback on my tracks and don’t want to pay people yet.

        I was using Bandcamp because people could play tracks directly on Facebook when I posted them, but that capability broke in 2009 – ish.. not sure if it’s come back. And one click is exponentially better than two when you’re bugging your friends. So I release my stuff on Soundcloud.

        I don’t like it because it’s pretty though haha. (It is getting uglier. There’s tons of current active development; things break and unbreak all the time.)

        I use Soundcloud for the critical feedback, which gives a unique sense of pride and ‘moving up the ranks’. Which specific part of a song resonates with people (they comment directly on 1:20 for instance: Nice drop!). Which songs out of an album people listen to. The ‘like’ to ‘listen’ ratio, etc. And if there’s a good enough song, people will ‘repost it’ — it will go viral directly within the platform. I think you alluded to this social aspect being great to the producer in Bandcamp.

        Additionally, the listeners are insanely diverse and sharp-minded. 15-year old orchestra MIDI wizards blow me away with their detailed feedback. And these guys aren’t established, or rich, enough, to be heard on any other platform. Nor am I.

        So basically it contains its own consolidated community. Although I post tracks on Facebook / Reddit I still get continuous Soundcloud followers out of it. How indie is it? It’s so indie you can’t even make money off it as a producer haha. They tell you to link to Bandcamp to sell your tracks.

        So yeah in short, there’s my perspective; sounds like it meshes with yours.

        • http://www.wiredtofollow.co.uk/ SMJohnston

          You’re right about the critical feedback, soundcloud is pretty much perfect for that.

        • The Inconsistent Jukebox

          It meshes with mine. I agree entirely – as my previous post will attest. Soundcloud is its own world – its own Cloud.

      • http://www.michaelreilly.net/ Michael Reilly

        Soundcloud is also spammed heavily by bogus accounts, which is a real turn off for me. Bandcamp’s community is exactly as described by Stephen – real people sharing their love for music, and giving you personal recommendations and connections to new music.

  • http://www.fabriziopaterlini.com Fabrizio Paterlini

    I am an avid Bandcamp user. The only platform I’d be curious to try is Topspin – it offers similar features (except the “community” side) and, in some aspects, seems to be a little bit more customizable. Did you try it and could you make a comparison?

    • http://www.wiredtofollow.co.uk/ SMJohnston

      I’ve not used Topspin bar an account to get merchandise links on Spotify. I’ll look into it at some point too.

  • Steven Demanett

    I prefer Bandcamp as a fan/user because I can enjoy the art as the artist intended with lossless FLAC and high res album art. Bandcamp brings back the fun of music discovery, as Stephen has mentioned, I too have found new music by following people. When I have the choice I purchase from Bandcamp, they make it a quick fun process. I can listen to the music fully without a 15 or 30 second snippet and know this music is going to connect with me so I want it, I need it. Furthermore, I can help support the artist directly and hopefully the artist can continue doing what they love without someone telling them how to do it and I can continue to enjoy and appreciate the true art as intended, it’s just more authentic.

    So thank you for being on Bandcamp!

  • Pingback: Continuing On… | Our Digital Future: The Evolution of the Music Industry

  • http://ihatemornings.com/ Ben Walker

    Hey Stephen, you’ll be happy to know that we added re-download links to fan collection pages a couple of weeks ago (https://bandcamp.com/fans). Thanks for the kind words!

    Ben (Bandcamp engineer)

    • http://www.wiredtofollow.co.uk/ SMJohnston

      That’s fantastic Ben, thanks for letting me know.

    • Joe Holt

      And by “we” Ben means “mememememememe”.

  • The Inconsistent Jukebox

    Thanks for that article, Stephen. That’s really useful to know – I don’t
    use Bandcamp yet but I’ll have a look now. I’ve only been putting my
    music online for 14 months now and Soundcloud is (more or less) all I
    use. I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of Soundcloud as being
    ‘techie’ and not ‘alluring’. Maybe that’s genre specific then, are you
    referring to electronic music? Because there’s so much great and
    diverse music on there, I don’t get the ‘techie’ reference – I listen
    (and play) guitar based Indie, Alt Rock, ambient and even noddle with
    jazz, so maybe that’s the difference. Frok my perspective then, I’d say
    it’s very community-based isn’t it, creating its own self-contained,
    reciprocal world. A great barometer for your own music and fantastic for
    collaborations, there’s a great spirit there too, but, up to now at
    least, it’s been primarily built for people who make music to listen and
    share with other people who make music. A collective, whether that be
    musically or socially. Rather than non-playing fans of music. You don’t
    have to be able to play music to love music. But I want to get mine out
    and off that comfortable, fluffy little Cloud, and into the big blue
    sky. Like you, I’ll continue to use Soundcloud because I do like it and I
    like the structure, but also like you, I think now I’ll also go the
    Bandcamp route and get the songs out there, rather than just being heard
    by ‘the community’, as lovely as that is, but also as benign, and
    rather than waiting till a label sees sense and signs us up (as the
    saying goes). So cheers for putting this out there. Good of you.
    Barry (‘The Inconsistent Jukebox’ on Soundcloud)

    • http://www.wiredtofollow.co.uk/ SMJohnston

      I suppose with ‘techie’ I mean toward the general public. I know people who’ve been put off by the waveform look, weird I know!

      • The Inconsistent Jukebox

        Ah yes, I see what you mean there, Stephen. Hey great post though. Very useful. I also am now following your two ‘bands’ on SC. Sounding good too. I’ll check out your other stuff later. Have a listen to mine if you get chance – things are looking rather promising.

  • The Inconsistent Jukebox

    Sorry that it’s made my comments look like a contemporary poem!