If you have been reading our blog, or any other music blog or magazine, you might have seen more than a few mentions of Bandcamp recently. In fact, if you consider yourself a fan of independent music there is a good chance you have already bought music on it already. If you haven't heard of it already, because of its exploding popularity you will soon. While at its core Bandcamp is simply an online music store, in fact, it is much more than that. Due to a few key differences from other platforms, it has changed the way many artists monetize their music.
Although founded in 2007, it hasn't been until the past few years that Bandcamp's popularity among independent musicians has exploded. One reason behind this growth is that unlike streaming services, Bandcamp's business model depends on independent musicians to be successful. For example, streaming services, like Apple Music or Spotify, bring in revenue through subscriptions and advertising, so it doesn't matter if you listen to the same pop song a thousand times or a thousand songs from a thousand different musicians once, they still make the same about of money in the end. On the other hand, Bandcamp makes money by charging musicians a small percentage fee from sales made on the platform. As a result of these differences, many musicians have been able to make much more money selling their music on Bandcamp than from the meager royalties streaming services pay.
Bandcamp Succeeds Where Streaming Fails
While streaming services provide an easy and effective way for musicians to distribute their music, they come with a catch. Specifically, it is often hard for independent musicians to make a meaningful amount of money from their music. In fact, due to the way streaming services pay royalties only the most popular artists ever see a decent payday. For example, according to an analysis of Spotify's royalty system done by Rolling Stone, the top 1.4% of artists are making an average of around $90,000 a year on Spotify. While on the other hand, the bottom 98.6% are making an average of just $12 per month. Given that fact it is easy to see why most independent musicians can't rely on streaming to make money.
Because streaming has proven to only work for the top artists, many independent musicians have turned their backs on it. Instead of spending time to build a large streaming audience, many musicians are now focusing much more energy on selling their music and merchandise directly to the consumer. The reason for this is that Bandcamp's business model makes it much easier for musicians to turn a profit. For instance, selling just one $20 digital item on Bandcamp will net an artist between $16-$17 after fees. Compare that to the $12 a month most musicians average on Spotify, and it quickly becomes clear that an artist's earning potential is much higher on Bandcamp than it is on streaming services.
Bandcamp Puts Musicians In Control Of How Their Music Is Released
Although there are other platforms that allow independent musicians to sell their music directly to the consumer, none give artists the level of control that Bandcamp does. Unlike other platforms, when an artist wants to release new music, there is no approval process or middle man they need to go through. Additionally, Bandcamp has features that help musicians build their fan base. In addition to allowing fans to leave feedback and engage with the artists, Bandcamp also allows artists to send out promo codes which greatly helps artists with giveaways and other promotional activities. The reason for these features is simple. Bandcamp only makes money when musicians make sales. As a result, it is in their best interest to do everything they can to help independent musicians sell their music and merchandise.
Of course, their fan base building features are important, but what really makes Bandcamp a game-changer is their pricing policy. Not only do they allow musicians to set their own price, but also they allow musicians to set a minimum price. In other words, fans can show their support for up-and-coming musicians by paying them more than the set price. Because of this pricing policy, many musicians have thought up new and creative ways to price their music. An example of this is the "name your price" campaign. Unlike anything in the past, during a "name your price" campaign an artist will set a minimum price, usually $1, and encourage fans to pay whatever they can. In short, Bandcamp's pricing policy allows independent musicians a level of control of how they sell their music that no other platform offers.
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