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review of BandCamp

Be sure to read my updated and more complete review of BandCamp! (Click anywhere on these 2 sentences to see that post.)

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.

Playful blessings,

16 thoughts on “review of BandCamp”

  1. As always Stan, thanks for this insight. When I 1st started putting music online a friend of mine referred me to bandcamp. I’m not a very proficient producer, and was using bandcamp as a mostly a place for people to hear what I was doing, as well as having a place to put it that had the ability to connect to other social networks. Was seriously in awe that folks were buying my music! This was a sort of trial by fire for me, as I mostly am a 1 take kinda guy. Having a perfect sound wasn’t something that appealed to me much, you’ll always have those mistakes in a live setting. I wanted to offer things outside of TMG for many reasons-I got lost in all the sites out there, was really getting garbled and overwhelmed. Thanks for reminding me just how useful bandcamp is, and for your insight on it. As I become more familiar with ProTools, I’ll def be using bandcamp again, it truly is a great site, and has sentimental value to me as corny as that sounds. thorough review Stan! Thank you SOO much! (::)PEACE(::)

    1. Thanks, Mike. I see how you put your heart into your responses, tweets, etc. just as you put it into your music.

      I encourage you to wait for my final review before you jump back into BandCamp … especially since you’re on SoundCloud.

      Playful blessings,

  2. BandCamp has added some helpful tools to their setup including a mobile version of the base song sales and streaming, plus a store for other merchandise. While these don’t necessarily change my earlier assessment about direct-to-fan song sales, they certainly make BandCamp a more attractive package for basic independent artist song and storefronts.

  3. Bandcamp is a great service and it really helps artists to sell their music with fans directly. I really think Bandcamp mixed with is the best possible combination for artists.

  4. I have sort of a love / hate relationship with bandcamp.

    As an artist, it’s pretty great! You can easily upload and release your own music, at no cost, and it includes a few moderately helpful promotional features.

    But as a consumer, I’m quite irate at the fact that you can’t re-download music you’ve purchased. The download link you’re given will eventually expire. So if you have a hard drive crash, you’ll have to re-purchase the music. And if you’re abroad and forgot to bring along your favourite bandcamp album on you portable media player, again, you’ll have to re-purchase it if you want access to it. If I’ve bought an album digitally, I want to be able to easily log in to my user account and re-download it whenever I want.

    1. I can see what you’re saying about the re-downloading. This does point to the importance of backups. I always save a copy of my iTunes library after I downloaded a few new songs.
      And I do hear how this wouldn’t protect from the scenario that you gave regarding a trip away from home.
      Have you contacted bandcamp with your wishes?

  5. lets face it folks this is the future for music everyone wins in this situation! I love this services. with downloading run amuck bandcamp is truley bringing back support for the independent I am all for that keep up the great work work bandcamp. down with the major label forever give back there rite to the artist!

  6. I have one question, being a music publisher I was taken aback by the non explanation of their copyright issues. First of all they don’t seem to care whether you have a copyright. Then they suggest that if someone is infringing your music all you have to do is contact them and they will take it down. Who fights for you when it comes to the infringement court? Does Bandcamp protect your music? Does Bandcamp owned the coyright? In fact why don’t they require proof of copyright? They seem to use a fair use clause of the copyright act which makes them non-liable for any infringement issues that might come up.It also means anyone can take your song and copy it without your permission. Also because they are not centrally located (as stated they work from library’s, home and private offices, )how could you possibly get anyone to testify in your behave

    1. Chris,
      I haven’t researched this subject (on BC) in detail. I’ve not heard of any copyright takedowns and I do know that BandCamp leaves it up to each member to cover their own copyright. BC is not a publisher or music copyright holder. If I get any other insights, I’ll let you know.

    2. Chris,

      Thanks again for writing about your concern. Your comment got me wondering and checking on the policy at BandCamp. They do not own the copyright. When someone posts on their site (see below), it means you’re saying you have the rights to do so. Since they don’t hold the copyright and the user is responsible for it, I see no declaration of fair use in their practices. They put the entire intellectual property burden on the poster. They only indicate they’ll respond if their TOU — which includes copyright — are violated.

      From what I’ve just read in the IP page at BandCamp, I’d say that they do “care” about copyright. Obviously, it would depend on how responsive they are in an actual situation, but their terms of use clearly state that this is part of their policy. They also state that it’s up to you to post only material for which you have the rights to publish. I haven’t found any takedowns on BC via internet searches, but that’s not to say it hasn’t happened.

      Not having a home office should not impact their ability to be responsive to questions. I’ve only had to contact them twice in all the time I’ve been on BC and both times, they were helpful in their response. Have you approached them with your query?

      Best wishes,

      1. Thank you for your response to my questions. you have at least confirmed some of the things I was wondering about. I am taking a course from Harvard on copyright law and I must say some of their ideas or actions warrant a review. We haven’t approached the DMCA yet in our studies and I will be asking a lot of questions on this matter. Not only am I a music publisher but I own a company that has developed software to stop piracy and infringement of content. More later! Thanks once again.

        1. You’re welcome and thank you, again.
          I am not able to find anything that seems to put BandCamp on slippery ground here. But I’m not a lawyer nor am I taking a class at Harvard on copyright law!
          However, I am a copyright advocate when it’s used by independents and done well. (Search samples of my advocacy.)
          Thanks again and I look forward to the continued conversation.

  7. I recently completed an EP, Let’s See What Happens under the band name Terrestrial Shackles and uploaded it on Bandcamp. As a listener I cruise the site to find new music. My release showed up on it’s first day under New Arrivals and them basic dropped off the radar. I contacted Bandcamp and they said 1) as a release sells more copies it will be more visible (A Catch 22. If people can’t find and buy it, it won’t move up in the rotation) and 2) it was there under this or that tag. I searched not only the tags they mentioned but all the tags I had listed on my page. The only way I can find my EP is to type in the EP or band name. Also, when I type in the titles of my songs only a couple come up. Basically I am completely buried never to be found by anyone who isn’t a friend or family that I am specifically directing to my page. This is a studio only project and I can’t generate a fan base by touring and playing live. I even did a boost on my Facebook page. Of the almost 1,300 people reached only 25 (2%) went to the Facebook page and probably less went to Bandcamp. I feel like if my music was visible on BC along with the rest I would stand a chance. Seems like a contradiction to their whole mission.

    1. Rory,
      I guess I can see both sides: BandCamp has to balance sharing every single band and upload on their site while you and I want ours to be found most easily and first. So far as I can tell, 90% of the people who listen to my Bandcamp songs are either friends or people who find it through my own marketing. I’ve never known anyone to listen to it because they found it randomly. So I guess my question to you would be: what other ways are you marketing your music. Like you, I have found Facebook to be 98% worthless. Their so-called “insights” are a lie and boosts are a waste of money for anyone who doesn’t already have a gigantic following.
      Best wishes,

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