Bandcamp.com: A new business model

[Note: I’m still working on pt 2 of my Marketing Your New Music blog, but in the meantime some thoughts on a new website we’re all pretty excited about.]

Amongst quite a few of us indie artists the new site www.bandcamp.com is a near godsend.  You upload your music, set your price, and every penny of your sales go to your PayPal acct (minus PayPal’s fees…maybe they own bandcamp?  Hmm, no idea).  You can let people have pretty much any available format of sound file for your music and they can listen to EVERY track in its entirety and, well, it’s kind of incredible.

It’s also very humbling and an interesting change to get your head around, as since you can give your music away FREE people can just have it, and you can’t hide if your album, minus one or two solid tracks, is shit.   This is precisely how music fans were ripped off by labels for decades, since there was little way of knowing what an album sounded like unless you or someone you knew bought it…most likely based off a single.   And believe me, I’m STILL kicking myself for buying that fucking Winger tape in 8th grade because of it, so I FEEL YOUR PAIN.

Ahem…

The playing field was levelled by downloading, and unsurprisingly the music industry’s sales lost out.   But that’s an entire other blog, so back to this one.

Of the three CDs I have had time to upload: Unicorns, Kittens, & Shit, Booze Up and Riot, and the way out of print split High Art for Low Expectations, roughly 15% of those were actually given a donation.  Does this mean people don’t enjoy my music?  Not really.  It simply means right now 15% of people can spare a few bucks to pay for it.

 I’ll point out now that I’m not complaining, but I’ll also say I obviously wish it were higher (cuz, y’know, money’s cool and all), but this is a great promotional tool more than anything, as it doesn’t condescend or try and pull a fast one with potential new fans.  You know EXACTLY what you’ll be getting if you download the music. 

It’s a true epiphany to realize that you’re 100% at the whim of each individual fan on how they decide to support you (and there are many ways), and while I have always understood that “nobody owes me nuthin'”, seeing one site where a person can choose whether to have my music for money or free and seeing the decisions made…well that’s mindblowing in some ways to me.

And while it’s still mildly disappointing in the “call the waaahmbulance” perspective on sales (and believe me, I’m not terribly butthurt– if I was I wouldn’t be writing about it at all), it’s incredibly empowering otherwise and that far outweighs the pangs of “is this a good idea?”.  Unlike all the torrents and filesharing that takes place, bandcamp actually lets you know what people are listening to, how MUCH of it they’re listening to, and tons of other amazing information.  Most importantly, unlike filesharing and torrents I WANT people to check my music out here and *I* am the one who made the decision to give it away free (with the backing of my incredibly cool label), so all control is back to me for once.  This is win-win for Caustic and fans alike.

So thanks to those who have been taking the time to check my stuff out, download and enjoy it in whatever form.  If you do enjoy it please please PLEASE tell other people about the site, as that’s truly what I want and need as a small artist.  If you have a favorite song just buy that one (asking price for them is only .75) as everything adds up. 

 And thanks in advance for taking the time to give it a listen. 

Change isn’t always easy to deal with and sometimes the truth isn’t the easiest to accept, but I’m loving the freedom AND control I get as an artist from sites like bandcamp.com.    I hope you do too.

Time to evolve…

http://caustic.bandcamp.com

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10 responses to “Bandcamp.com: A new business model

  1. Is your plan only to release your older stuff? There’s a distinct lack of This Is Jizzcore on there. Or do you have some sort of agreement going on with Crunch Pod?

    Just wondering if you only see this as a way of extending the monetisation of your old stuff.

    • Eventually– I have it all ready but it takes a while to upload the individual files.

      Right now I’m trying to get harder to find stuff up there— Meld, the split I did with Endif, if probably next.

  2. I wonder, how often is this website visited my regular folk? It’s easy to spam everyone to come and visit the site, but do regular folk just come and browse it as if it was a social networking site?

    • It’s pretty new (I just found out about it last week) so I’m not sure about how many “regular” folks are on board with peeking around in there, but as the name gets out it has the potential to really grow, I think.

      We’ll see. It’s a new idea, or rather a bunch of ideas consolidated into one site.

  3. re: Pay Pal

    PayPal takes a cut when they are your cash till, a percentage of sales to offset their costs.. at least that is the published rationale. As i understand it (going entirely on heresay as i have not done it myself), they do that any time the work as your POS (point of sale, not piece of shit, lol)

    new business model indeed. goes straight to the heart of the “does music have inherent value” argument some of you were having on side-line…

  4. Free isn’t a business model. I’m trying to get into the industrial scene myself, and I have considered this option… but you haven’t sold me as a musician, only as a fan of your material. I like music, and I like living, so making music to earn a living is something I aim for because I have a talent and more importantly a dedication others do not have. I feel like that combined with good business skills should allow me at least a meager living for the services I offer, but bandcamp.com doesn’t really make that happen. If my fans respect me enough, they will buy my album and know that I won’t sell them 2 or 3 good songs and a bunch of filler. I think the digital revolution takes the pedestal away from musicians… and this might not be a bad thing, just another hurtle for us to work harder in this business of pennies.

    • Bandcamp is more of a response to the fact that if anyone wants to get your music for free then they will download it illegally and that’s it. Anyone who wants to buy it will buy it.

      Bandcamp is showing the people who want free stuff that it’s okay, but lightly encouraging them to buy the music – which I’m sure a lot of people will be swayed by.

      If you can’t beat the pirates then you must join them and adhere to their rules – give it for free but ask them for money will go down much better than condemning the lot of them.

      It’s not an ideal situation, but it is unfortunately the way it’s going as more people are discovering that they can get music for nothing.

    • I completely see what you’re saying, but the fact is that we won’t win the fight against illegal downloading, so giving people options is a good, if not simply interesting, compromise. And you can always take the option to NOT give away the music free on there. I did, but with the caveat that I get their emails in return. I’ll be using those to sporadically let them know about new merch, CDs, and shows and keep the ball rolling.

      In my mind it’s a trade-off, and like I mention in the blog it’s not the easiest pill to swallow, but at least I’M in control of it, rather than some asshole somewhere making those decisions for me.

      Also, I don’t think there should be a pedestal for us, but that’s easily debatable. It’s about respect both ways– giving them a taste at a lower bitrate and then they have to buy it at (what I consider) a QUALITY bitrate.

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  6. My brother recommended I might like this website.

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