Oh No, Not Another Music Community!

Back when we first started working on Bandcamp, we had no desire to create another online music community. Like many fans, we were turned off by the way the noise in those communities often drowned out the thing that matters most: the music. So we decided instead to focus on being the best possible home for that music, setting aside many of the social features that seemed mandatory for any consumer internet startup at the time.

Apparently a lot of you were also suffering from thanks-for-the-add fatigue, because over the past year and a half, artist signups have steadily accelerated, and today we host a large and diverse pool of music. But every Bandcamp-powered site is still an island, and not surprisingly, one of the most frequent questions we now get is “How do I find out about other [industrial mariachi | new-age horrorcore | death ragtime | etc] artists on Bandcamp?”

When there were just a few hundred artists using the system, our answer was “Why on earth do you care?” When there were a few thousand, it was, “Uh, use Google?” But by the time there were tens of thousands, it was clear we were neglecting a big opportunity: the opportunity to leverage the power of every individual artist’s site to help fans discover new music — your music.

So we sat down and pondered whether there was a way to seize that opportunity without completely screwing up the good thing we had going. Could we somehow activate this large, dormant community while keeping the integrity of every Bandcamp site intact? We think the answer is an emphatic YES, but we’ll describe how it works, and then you can decide for yourself and let us know.

Starting today, you can specify your genre and location, and tag up your tracks and albums with relevant keywords, and fans can browse all the music on Bandcamp by those attributes. You set genre and location in the Account Details section of your Profile page, right here:

Note that location is geocoded, meaning every artist on Bandcamp will have a real location. Stuff like “Mars,” “stepdad’s garage,” “back of beyond,” and “the ionosphere” is fun and all, but only puts you at a disadvantage in terms of fan discovery. So here you enter your city, state, province or country (even misspellings are AOK), and we map that to a discrete, browsable location.

Tags are set on the individual edit pages for both tracks and albums, here:

and finally those tags are displayed on your track and album pages, just below your cover art, here:

When a fan clicks one of those tags, they’re taken to its page, where we show other music by you with that tag, as well as a sortable list of music across the system with that tag:

By clicking the “browse all tags” link, fans can browse by popular tags and locations, like this:

And that’s about it. Pretty simple and obvious really, but we think it has the potential to build a community in the best possible sense of the word, where every individual contributes to its strength. It won’t, of course, be built overnight. At the time of this writing, there are exactly zero tags in the system, but with your help (and the help of the screaming yellow nag-bar that you’ll see next time you log in), it shouldn’t be long before the solitary goal of these new features is realized: make every artist on Bandcamp more successful, by making it easier for fans to find you.

P.S. Search is coming soon.

P.P.S. If you’re one of the many generous artists who have recently released Haiti relief fundraising records, please tag your album with “Haiti relief” and we’ll promote the centralized tag page for it shortly.

61 Comments

  1. Posted February 12, 2010 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Already having a few issues with my tags doubling up, for some reason…?

    and, I know it’s purely an aesthetic concern, but any chance they could appear entirely in lowercase or entirely in caps?

  2. Neal
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    The double tag issue is now fixed, thanks for the report Robin.

    Case doesn’t matter in tags currently, but whoever enters the tag first gets to decide how it’s capitalized. It occurs to us that that’s kind of weird, too, so we’re working on fixing that.

    ~Neal (a Bandcamp guy)

  3. Posted February 12, 2010 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    Cool.

  4. Posted February 12, 2010 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    sounds great! good idea! for my music it will be a challenge because my stuff doesn’t fall neatly into established genres. and that leads me to some questions. are the tags fields validated against a list of set genres? Or can people put anything they want? I wonder if people will put in other artists in their tags. You know… things like “Beatles” and “Stevie Wonder”. If you like such-and-such artist, then you’ll like us. great work. You guys are awesome. Looking forward to the search function too.

    best
    Reuben

  5. Posted February 12, 2010 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    you guys rock!!

  6. Posted February 12, 2010 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    From the point of view of someone who is very involved in a local music community (both fan and musician), the addition of location tags is incredibly helpful. Thanks a lot guys! I’m excited for the search as well.

  7. tyler
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    you are awesome.

    continue in the same vein. that of awesomness. BC rulez.

  8. Michael
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Great update! I was days away from asking about genres, however, I’d sure love to be able to set genre at the track level, instead of the artist level.

    Rather, I think the ability to edit both might be best.

    Just speaking freely here, but if you’re going to wipe out ID3 data completely, it seems you should also support the ability to edit it in its entirety.

    Anyway, the Bandcamp platform is fantastic and I’m looking forward to seeing it evolve.

  9. Posted February 12, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I love bandcamp. we’re using it in the new rollout of our site (building that on Umbrella). This is important stuff, thanks.

  10. Posted February 12, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a sensible plan – a nod to connecting bands without add frenzy.

    However, I’m bitterly disappointed that Heino doesn’t really have a bandcamp page. I think the internet is crying out for a website where you can stream all his music. Total legend.

  11. Posted February 12, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    thanks for doing this!

  12. Posted February 12, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    The tag concept is a super idea!! Especially if it can be used for googling songs. One quick observation, tags seem to be case-sensitive at the moment. I think it will be less anarchical to make them case-insensitive.

  13. atekatze
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I love watching Bandcamp evolve! <3

  14. Posted February 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Great news! I love Bandcamp!

  15. Posted February 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant!

  16. Richard Robertson
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    My friend Paul and I had emailed you guys online yesterday. Preemptive email replies, you guys rock.

  17. Posted February 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    amazing
    thank you for yoru great ideas.
    i am proud to be a part from it
    cheers

  18. Posted February 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    So one thing that bugs about tags in general is I make drum and bass so should I tag it:
    drumandbass
    drumnbass
    drum&bass
    drum and bass
    dnb
    d&b
    d&b

    Ideas anyone?

  19. Neal
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Rupert, regarding the old “drum and bass or drum-n-bass or drummondbase” issue, we added auto-complete of tags as you type in hopes that people would see what others have already used and go along with that. The list that you get as you type is sorted by popularity, so for example, right now I can see that “Drum & Bass” is the most popular variation on your tag by just typing “dru” into the tag editing field.

    We didn’t want to be too constraining about what you could enter, but we also wanted to encourage people to use existing tags when appropriate.

    ~Neal (a Bandcamp guy)

  20. Posted February 12, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this! It’s also great that when I google my band’s name, it appears third on google search, and I’ve been on bandcamp only a few months.

    The thanks-for-the-add thing has become really annoying. Hope you keep things this way.

    regards,
    moonlight horses

  21. Posted February 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    thanks a lot – and also thanks for ur great site, i love bandcamp, even more than myspace etc.

    bandcamp rocks !!

    thanks for ur work !!

  22. Posted February 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I dig it! Yall are using the most basic and important aspects of myspace music. I hope BC will be the preferred internet music artist community over myspace/facebook.

    -paco

  23. Posted February 13, 2010 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    i don’t like it. i think people should have to browse the good ol’ fashioned way, by the album cover art. Hot chicks in bathing suits always get me. Seriously though, i liked it being almost secret and some time & effort having to be put in to search. i think it’s going to clutter up the sleek/streamlined graphic design that i love you for.
    i’ll cave in and participate but i won’t be happy about it.

  24. Posted February 13, 2010 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    great stuff as ever, guys.

  25. Posted February 13, 2010 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    its awesome dude!!! it would dynamize a lot more this site.. THANK YOUUUU

    thanks dudes

  26. Posted February 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I like the idea. I will echo that it would be nice to edit these on the Track/Album levels.

  27. Posted February 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I do have one issue that I hope one of you would answer: What if an artist is a group whose members live in different places around the country, or even the world? For example, what if the guitarist is from Essex, England, and the bassist is from New York City, and the Drummer is from Japan and the singer lives in Calgary? How will you geocode the location if the band is not in one location? I think the “location” should be user-entered, or at the very least, not limited to one location.

  28. Posted February 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Probably not a scenario we’ll be supporting anytime soon, Samuel, but request noted.

  29. Posted February 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much BC! It is such a pleasure interacting with your platform, and I just wanted to pass along how sincerely appreciated it is in so many different ways.

    Keep tuning in to the highest hopes of our music making “community” and we’ll keep on making kick ass music.

    Peace.

  30. Posted February 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I can see where this is headed guys. smart smart smart

  31. Digondouros
    Posted February 14, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    hi,

    though i agree that these tags are a wonderful way to be found and so indeed can and will be very helpful, i am not so fond however of their integration in the site design…imho they really spoil the very slick site u guys presented me…it would be very thoughtful to somehow make them less ‘in ur face’, more subtle, somewhere at the bottom for example and/or smaller,…

    dunno, just a big BC fan being honest here…

  32. Posted February 15, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    this new development is super! and someone may have already mentioned this, but it’d be cool if there was a ‘radio player’ page of sorts where we could listen to random tracks from artists of a selected genre… perhaps each artist could submit a track or two from their library (their best tracks hopefully ;) to be apart of the radio queue… just thinkn’…

  33. Posted February 16, 2010 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    I second what Offthesky is saying. Some top lists would be cool. Geological and by tag and/ or genre. … and how about user profiles ? Be the last.fm of independent music!! :)

  34. Posted February 16, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    GREAT…I love bandcamp!!!

  35. Lucid Music on Bandc
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    FINALLY

  36. Posted February 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Bandcamp ist rad!

  37. Andy
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    This is great news!

    I see opportunity in Bandcamp becoming the “source” for musicians and fans. This is such a great site, and I hope this will lead to the end of MySpace controlling streaming music by artist.

    Great work guys, keep pushing the product, but don’t lose the ease of functionality and UI.

    Andy

  38. Posted February 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Tags is a great idea, but you’re right we don’t need another Myspace/Facebook-type community and the thing that attracts me most about Bandcamp is how all the features are centered around the most important thing which is the music.

    Even with suggestions like the radio – there’s already last.fm, which is already very good.

    Keep up the good work with Bandcamp. Very impressed with it.

  39. Posted February 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    This is great, and I think it makes a lot of sense. I will echo what someone up above noted, which is that I would love to be able to tag at both the artist level and the album level (probably not at the track level). I work in a number of different genres, so one album might not be the same genre as another. I hope you’ll consider it so that I could tag more broadly at the artist level and then more specifically for the albums. I realize it complicates things, but otherwise I’ll have to include quite a number of tags at the artist level, and people who are browsing may end up trying an album they’re not looking for, instead of the one they might like.

    Hope those thoughts make sense. Thanks for the continued great work!

  40. Kent
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    FINALLY!!!

  41. Posted February 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    sweeet!! more granularity please ;)

  42. Posted February 23, 2010 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    Damn, you guys are ON TOP of it! This was exactly the latest thing I was wondering about. I was recently browsing through some bandcamp artists (alphabetically) and seeing all this awesome music (which is mostly available for FREE). Seemed sort of like a waste not to give people an avenue to browse it (more easily). But then I realized that bandcamp is clearly aimed at bands (as a tool) and not aimed at “fans”. I’m glad you’re taking it slow with testing. Turning this into a ‘myspace music’ could be deadly. Just look at myspace now.

  43. Posted February 23, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Fantastic feature guys

  44. Posted February 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Hey guys – great work with the service.

    Just a quick thought though – If you add your location as London, UK it automatically sets it as Westminster, London, UK.

    I doubt there will be many bands from Westminster… London is the city you mean.

  45. Neal
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Tim,
    Thanks for the heads-up; that must be an oddity in the location lookup code. I’ll check into it. Rest assured that we are slightly more intelligent about how it’s displayed on your music pages, though, and it correctly shows “London.”

  46. Posted February 23, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    i freaken love you guys!

  47. foq1978
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Great new features! Bandcamp is actually a big reason I want to record my material. I already recommend it to every fellow musician that asks me about band promotion / music hosting.

    Congratulations on the outstanding service.

  48. Posted February 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    The auto-complete feature is good for creating a genre taxonomy, but it’s a little overzealous. I was the first person to identify as simply ‘country’, but the auto-complete really, really wanted to change that to ‘country rap’. Not exactly the same thing.

  49. Neal
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I just really like country rap and am trying to encourage bands to go in that direction.

    j/k seth. It was actually a really stupid bug in my code, which is now fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.

  50. enoch
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    fantastic and innovative use of tags. goes beyond the old/stole id3 world and into the modern world of tagging.

  51. Posted February 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Any chance of the following tag?

    “International”

    We’re in the process of setting up a Bandcamp page for an online collective, featuring artists from around the world.

    haiti.bandcamp.com

  52. Posted February 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Sherz, while you can’t set that as your location, you’re free to put that tag on your tracks and albums (or even in your genre).

  53. Posted February 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    This is a great feature and is great for SEO. Thank you so much for making this, and Bandcamp possible

  54. Posted March 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this, guys! I agree. I don’t want this to turn into a MySpace flop. I love BandCamp for that reason. But I like the idea that we could link up similar artists so that people can find many artists who are creating music in a genre that they like.

  55. Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    great writer, fantastic blog, Incredible site.

  56. Posted March 11, 2010 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Just echoing what a couple of other people have said..

    I’d prefer the idea of tags being more ‘behind-the-scenes’ … so people could search by genre from the bandcamp home page but not necessarily from individual artist pages.

    It’s an aesthetic thing more than anything else.. we’d rather not have a list of genres written under our album covers.. looks kind of like we’re stating the obvious and detracts from one of the most attractive things about bandcamp – ie the way it can seamlessly integrate into the artist’s own website. The inclusion of tags make it look like the user has just been redirected to a different music site.

    Would be nice if there was an option to not display tags on album pages…

    Just my honest opinion, otherwise, keep up the good work! :)

  57. Posted March 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I just want to say what a find Bandcamp is. I’ve ditched all our other music downloads and CD e-commerce pages and replaced it all with a bandcamp subdomain of http://music.arbelos.eu

    This is terrific – it’s so well thought out from both the artist’s view and from the listener.

    Well done, Bandcamp.

  58. Posted March 18, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    A great new feature. I’ve gotten some new downloads from people I didn’t know since you made this feature. Thanks!

    The new ‘index’ feature is smelling great and I’m about to try it out. Keep up the great work!

  59. dace
    Posted March 24, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    you guys are the shit. keep it up!

  60. Posted April 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Hello; also a BC band here. I didn’t have time to read every single post re: tags, so forgive me if this has been discussed somewhere else, but (we’re lovin’ the site overall, so please don’t take this as a complaint, but constructive criticism/feature request…) was disappointed about one thing:

    Why limit the number of tags to 5? It seems constraining. I understand the concept; some people go nuts with it and it makes it hard to classify and also easy for deception (i.e., you’re a rock band, you want lots of plays from people with diverse tastes, so you might tag…mmm..”Country Rap” and see if you can snag a few eclectic new fans with slightly eccentric, zealously diverse musical taste. But 5, though? Where’d that number come from? I can’t describe my band’s sound with 5 words. Seriously, we have about 21 recorded tracks that we’re considering uploading (currently in the stage of learning to navigate the site, trust it, get involved, etc. etc. before we u/l all our tracks here, particularly what we consider to be our top 8-10), and right off the bat, I could describe as rock, grunge, instrumental, metal, noise, alternative…and that only gets me to 6, being totally honest with description.

    Yeah, I know there’s track tagging (totally agree with the opinions here that it’s a vitally important and awesome feature, and I’m about to find out if there’s a limit once this big .wav file finishes uploading), but…really, my band is pretty eclectic and 5 seems like an inadequate number of tags, and we don’t have inadequacy issues in our band – we’re horses! No, really, that’s our upcoming release’s artwork (a side profile of the face of a mean-looking stallion with ears pinned back flat, tattered mane, red eyes, snorting smoke and looking pissed off, and no it’s not cliche; once you see it, you’ll agree it’s bad-ass, and it’s not a cartoon horse either, just slight artistic liberties to liven up the ‘action’ with the snorting and eye-redding, etc..we nicked the template from an old ad for Winstrol-V in my 1989 Equus magazine and made appropriate modifications to make him look intense, to personalize it and mashed up/enhanced the image to avoid copyright issues)…OK, way too much information, I know. However, would you consider bumping up the band tags to at least 10?

    I know being concise is good, but we don’t want to be constrained with a limit that seems a little arbitrary (even though I’m sure you did put careful consideration into it; I’m just advocating strongly for my opinion). I’m about to find out how the album/track tags work with limits and such, but we’d like to pop up on a few relevant tag searches, because we think the Kroakers would appeal to a number of different communities. We don’t overtag, since we a) don’t want to waste time catching the attention of people who’ll be pissed off and block us out when they’re looking for a specific sound, and 2) that’s the point of ‘targeting’ (hate that word)–to catch people in your niche, who’re sharing the same vein (so to speak).

    Perhaps the track tagging will be adequate, but anything you can give us that’s not too much trouble to change for you guys, that the community can agree upon, is good. Can I get a 10?

    Thanks for putting up with my verbose post,
    Mic Morose

  61. Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    just wanted to say i really love bandcamp, it really helps me, i cant think of any other place that is so handy, i really do love how minimal this place is, its nice not having to worry about getting coments, friends, ect.

    keep it up, i cant wait to see what the future holds for this wonderful place

One Trackback

  1. By Music Data Confessions of a Tagaholic on February 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    […] through a service that lets them login with their existing online profiles. In yesterday’s blog post on the tagging, Bandcamp says they originally had “no desire to create another online music […]

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