Game Soundtracks as Record Industry Bellwether. Also, Furries.

Something wonderful, and a little surprising, has been happening on Bandcamp lately. Indie game soundtracks have not only proliferated on the site, they’ve also been selling. A lot. The music for games like Super Meat Boy, Plants vs. Zombies and Shatter is often right up there on the top sales chart next to albums from artists like Sufjan Stevens and Amanda Palmer. This wasn’t something we expected to see on Bandcamp, and at first mull it seemed a bit odd. If you’ve played through any of these games, you’ve already listened to the music for dozens — or in some cases hundreds — of hours (damn you P vs. Z!). Furthermore, gamers tend to be dismissed as the sort of punks who would just utilize their 1337 skillz to get all their music for free. So what’s going on here?







We suspect the answer is pretty simple. Gamers, like any artist’s fanbase, are a passionate community, and when given the opportunity to support the creators of the music they love (and when the relationship is clearly a direct one with the artist), they jump at the chance.* Many people are undoubtedly buying the music to get the music, but a large portion are likely buying it to tell composers like Danny B, Laura Shigihara and Jeramiah Ross, “Hey, we love what you’re doing and we want you to keep doing it.”

And this phenomenon isn’t restricted to the gaming community. Right next to the sorts of great and strong-selling artists that we always hoped/expected to see (like Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Dub FX) are big sales from niche communities we never anticipated: dance music for furries, a webcomic soundtrack, and a student-produced college musical regularly top the sales chart. Their sales might not put them in #Bieber territory, but it’s so exciting to see these tight-knit communities defying the abysmally low expectations heaped upon this generation of music consumers and instead supporting the creators they love. These artists are already an important part of Bandcamp’s business, and we think this bodes well for the record business as a whole.

*How passionate? We recently got this email: “The game Curse of the Crescent Isle just dropped on XBL, which we did the soundtrack for and I was crushed to see that we weren’t able to upload the .nsf files as bonus material! These are .midi like files that you could get onto your modded Super Nintendo to hear the tracks played on the actual chip, instead of software modified. Nerds and audiophiles around the world would be grateful if you could help us out with this!” Happy ending: we whitelisted .nsf immediately. Disaster averted.

19 Comments

  1. Posted January 13, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    well, to be fair, it’s not _for_ furries per se, i just happen to be part of the community and use the character design aspect as a fun way to categorize the music i do :] but THANK YOU for the shout out, guys! <3 rock on!

  2. Posted January 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    OK, that is the *last* time I trust what I read on WikiFur. Thanks for the clarification Renard!

  3. Posted January 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    @Ethan

    hahahaha, that is the most beautiful response i could have ever hoped for. love you guys!

  4. Posted January 13, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Game soundtracks are awesome and too often overlooked. I’m glad they’re starting to make the rounds here on Bandcamp!

  5. Posted January 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what else to say other than this is great news! I love seeing this kind of support among communities, and being a part of it is really exciting! I can’t believe how much progress Bandcamp has created.

  6. Wire Fox
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    This is, well…awesome. Never really realized that this stuff ended up that successful. I’ve been a fan of Renard for a while and have been planning to buy a few albums once a few extra $’s came in.

    What are the statistics like in terms of people seeming to discover completely new artists on here and downloading their albums?

  7. Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    > What are the statistics like in terms of people seeming to discover completely new artists on here and downloading their albums?

    Great question, we plan to surface that data soonish. In the meantime, keep exploring! http://bandcamp.com/tag/video-game-music

  8. Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Though I’m not at the top of the sales charts, my soundtrack to the indie game Star Ruler is also exclusively on bandcamp… Just sayin. ;)

    http://artembank.bandcamp.com

  9. Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Big Shoutout to fellow Fur Renard!
    *hi-fives for the Bandcamp info and plug*

    I love this place.

  10. Posted January 14, 2011 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Pretty much through bandcamp we had over 500,000 hits and listens on the shatter soundtrack the response from the gaming community was really amazing bandcamp gave us as musicians and composers the tools we needed to make the music avalible worldwide to everyone. Game music is the concept album reborn and the perfect way to release digital music and still make a living with support of the fans. Nothing but good things to say and many thanks. Cheers module.

  11. DXN
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    Homestuck represeeeeent.

    Also, Lapfox is awesome music.

  12. Posted January 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Hey Bandcamp, how about a Bandcamp radio station just for the artists on Bandcamp? This might give a jump to some other talanted arists other than Super Meat Boy and Amanda Palmer. I love Amanda Palmer’s music by the way. But a user coming to the Bandcamp site is instantly ushered to the same 10 acts you guys list.

    This radio station could be advertisment supported, folks could choose genre etc. I would predict not one artist would not want in. This might prove lucrative for you guys and well as the other very talanted people who are not in the usual Bandcamp top 10.

    Yours Truly,
    Jimmy Pillar

    http://www.jimmyofapril.bandcamp.com

  13. Posted January 15, 2011 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    We have all our game soundtracks on Bandcamp (http://soundtracks.pixelate.de) – it’s a great way to offer fans something in addition to our games. I actually wish there was something like Bandcamp for selling downloadable indie games. Web-based, clean and easy to use for both makers and fans.

  14. Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    @ Andreas thats a awesome idea.

  15. Blacksheep
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    I just discovered bandcamp via Reddit a few days ago and I must say, I am very impressed with the music here and I feel a lot better knowing that the artists are making the money here and not some suit in a corporate office.

    That said, I do have a few suggestions for your site, that I realize are complex and not easy, but I will say them anyway. One, I wish users could have accounts, not just bands and the reason is, I’d like to see a history of what I purchased in addition to having the ability to tag/mark/flag artists I enjoyed for future listening or purchasing.

    Now if that feature were in place, it would help a ton and the next more elaborate thing I’d like to see are better music discovery features. So if I downloaded or listened to trip hop and alternative rock, I’d get a little message saying “you might like this group!” or as I’m on an artists page I’d see a link for bands of a similar genre.

    I realize this involves coding up the wazoo, but one day when you have 20 web designers on hand and unlimited funds (I know lol) maybe some of this stuff could get on a to do list?

    Still love your site as is! Just making some suggestions for things I’d love to see.

  16. Posted February 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m not a gamer nor do I play tons of video games…but I do appreciate good music when I hear it, whether it’s in a video game, movie, etc. So maybe people like me — who didn’t know where to buy the OST but are willing to purchase it — are also part of this sales trend.

    Thanks for the post, I didn’t realize P vs Z was on here!

  17. Posted February 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Developers often overlook the music and sound effects. They don’t realize that it can actually make a big difference in the success of their game. For example, I suggest that you try the Peggle game from PopCap website, you’ll see that the sound effects bring a total new dimension to the game!

  18. Posted March 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Well, the Homestuck music is amazingly awesome, so it makes sense that it’d sell so so well. ;)

    The newest album (Alterniabound) has been number one for a number of days, hasn’t it? Pretty amazing.

  19. Posted March 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Heh, I meant it would. My brain isn’t working too well right now.

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