This is the penultimate review in a series based on my own research, plus awesome input from a number of other independent musicians. My basic goal in this series is to find the best-of-breed that will allow independent musicians to sell digital format songs direct to listeners. If you've been following along, you've read about some that did not meet the requirements in my opinion (feel free to share yours in the comments!); two that try to provide lots more than just digital direct sales and either barely deliver or provide a useful platform; and one new service that I really like which allows for song sales while simultaneously benefitting charities. The two final reviews are of tools that focus (almost) solely on direct digital song sales.
As you can tell by the title, today's coverage is on BandCamp. Their home page is an easy to understand introduction to their services. Both artists and fans can get a taste of what's available right from that front page. Sign-up is easy and fast. Listing and uploading your songs (including an image and numerous optional details on each one) or albums is free and also very simple. If you run into trouble, BandCamp provides some laid-back FAQ and help pages that will probably get you through it.
In addition to sending people to your page on BandCamp, you can (also for free) create a custom domain (one that you have registered) that actually points to your BandCamp profile. I did this and it took less than a day, was easy to perform from the step-by-step instructions on the BandCamp web site, and provided me with a listing that can “look” like it's part of my site.
If you start making lots of sales on BandCamp, they offer some upgrades in space, etc. for your songs. Listings can also be made for physical media (CD's), but BandCamp only provides a place for you to list the information and make the sale. The rest is up to you (CD duplication, shipping, etc.).
You can name your price for the digital download or allow fans to set their own price in addition to the traditional choice of setting a fixed cost. A nice feature that gives the listener a bit of control. Mailing list information can also be collected in exchange for downloads and completed sales also populate your contact list. The only way to obtain the mailing list data is to download it as a CSV file, so again, dealing with the data is up to you, the musician or band.
BandCamp basically charges 15% of sales to get things started. Check their pricing page for current charges and discounts. (Usual disclaimer: BandCamp, like any vendor, can change their pricing at any time. It's up to you not to trust the figures I provide here as they may have changed by the time you read this.) There are other features and niceties that you should also read about before deciding on BandCamp or another option.
A number of musical artists have very successfully used BandCamp. I have been impressed with the ways that Matt Stevens uses BandCamp integration on his site. You should definitely visit and listen to his music. He's an experienced guitar-looping (and social media) powerhouse.
So, my review of BandCamp comes with lots of kudos: they focus primarily on allowing the independent musician to sell direct to fans. Well done. Their fees allow them to stay in business while providing this crucial service to independent musical artists.
And there's one more review to go. My favorite pick of the many choices that musicians have regarding digital sales tools. Watch here for that final review.
Please add your feedback in the comments section. I'd really like to hear your ongoing experiences with these online sales services.