Author Archives: Ethan Diamond

Big Improvements to Selling Merch on Bandcamp

Merch on Bandcamp

Merch on Bandcamp had a good 2016. Vinyl sales grew 48%, cassettes were up 58%, even CD sales grew 14%. To date, fans have bought over four million physical items through the site, totaling $58 million USD, and merch sales continue to accelerate every year. But for as many great reasons to sell merch through Bandcamp as there already are, we know there’s still lots of room for improvement. Artists and labels need a lot more control and a lot more flexibility, and so today we’re launching several new features to address those needs.

First up, from the merch editor you can now add any number of countries as shipping destinations, set individual shipping rates for each one, and save those out as defaults that you can also apply across multiple products:

add countries and save as default.gif

If you’re sending goods out from more than one location, you can also now set up multiple shipping origins from your Profile page, and choose to charge taxes in more than one place:

set up multiple shipping origins

Once multiple origins are set, you can set individual rates and inventory for those origins, and we’ll automatically route orders to the appropriate origin based on the buyer’s location:

merch editor with multiple origins

(If you’re working with one or more fulfillment partners, you can assign them to different shipping origins over on your merch orders page.)

Finally, for the more technically inclined, we’ve also released a Merch Orders API that lets you query for new orders, mark existing ones as shipped, and search through older orders, filtering by label, band, or date. You can also get details about the merchandise you have for sale on Bandcamp, and update SKU and inventory information.

We hope you find all this useful! Please let us know in the comments what you’d like to see next, and don’t miss Bandcamp Daily’s monthly Merch Table column, where we highlight some of the coolest and craziest merch we come across. Thank you!

Update on Friday’s ACLU Fundraising Frenzy

Bandcamp

Thanks to everyone who stood with immigrants and refugees by joining today’s fundraiser for the ACLU. We’ve been inspired and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the artists, fans and labels in the Bandcamp community, who rapidly and enthusiastically backed this important cause.

With several hours remaining, we estimate that fans will have bought just over $1,000,000 worth of music today, which is 550% more than a normal Friday (already our biggest sales day of the week). All of our share of that (~12%) goes directly to the ACLU. The other 88% (less transaction fees) goes directly to the labels and artists, more than 400 of whom have pledged to donate their share of sales today as well. They joined a lot faster than we could keep up, but big thanks to Anti-, ATO, Barsuk, City Slang, Epitaph, Father/Daughter, Fat Wreck, Kill Rock Stars, Merge Records, Mexican Summer, Miracle of Sound, Rhymesayers, RVNG, Sub Pop, Four Tet, Neil Gaiman, Lushlife, P.O.S., Speedy Ortiz, and all of the hundreds more. You are all amazing.

Bandcamp Livefeed

The live sales feed on Bandcamp’s home page, at around noon today.

Of course we didn’t do this just to raise money: we also hoped to raise awareness. On that front we want to thank everyone who helped spread the word, including our friends at NPR, Spin, Pitchfork, Metal Sucks, Paste, NME, AVClub, Thump, Billboard, Huffington Post, The Stranger, Vogue, the ACLU itself, and yesssss! Daveed Diggs.

We also heard from a few people who were upset, and in sometimes colorful terms told us to stick to selling music. We really like what a guy named Richard Rutherford had to say about this over on our Facebook post, and think it’s a great note to close on:

“The bands you like and the books you read and companies whose products you enjoy are all run by people who hold opinions on how the world should work and how other people should be treated. Some of them are going to make those views more specific than others, but everyone’s got their line-in-the-sand where they’re not going to be able to keep it to themselves any longer. In a world where everything is influenced by political decisions, ‘staying non-political’ actually means defaulting to the status-quo and endorsing what’s happening in the system – expecting people who sell you things to do that, no matter how harmful the system might be to them and things they care about, is unreasonable. This applies to you too, of course – you have every freedom to stop supporting Bandcamp and to explain why you don’t agree with them, but by doing so you are being just as ‘political’ as them – we all are, that’s the point. Pretending that you’re advocating some higher plane of art when you’re really just maintaining the status quo is dishonest and unhelpful. It’s not as if Bandcamp ever even pretended to be apolitical. Their entire business model is a reflection of their social and ethical convictions, which they happily explain every year when they publish their accounts.”

Amen to that and thank you again!

Everything is Terrific: The Bandcamp 2016 Year in Review

Bandcamp 2016 Year In Review

And now some genuinely great news in an otherwise unremarkable week: every aspect of Bandcamp’s business was up in 2016. Digital album sales grew 20%, tracks 23%, and merch 34%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl, which was up 48%, and further boosted by CDs (up 14%) and cassettes (up 58%). Every single one of these numbers represents an acceleration over last year’s growth. Hundreds of thousands of artists joined Bandcamp in 2016, more than 2,000 independent labels came on board (like Dischord, Merge, and Dualtone), and the rate of fan signups tripled. Fans have now paid artists nearly $200 million using Bandcamp, and they buy a record every three seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The record business overall did not fare as well. According to Nielsen, it grew 3% in the U.S. in 2016, while sales of digital albums fell 20%, tracks were down 25%, and physical albums dropped 14%. These declines are not at all surprising given the industry-wide push toward subscription music rental offerings, and indeed as the year came to a close, those services reached a combined 100 million paying subscribers. This milestone is being celebrated by some, but it is not good news for the vast majority of artists, and poses some serious problems for fans, labels, and music as an art form.

As more people subscribe to music rental services, the already paltry rates paid to artists are going down (and no, artists don’t necessarily make it up in volume). But it’s not only artists who are struggling. The companies built solely around subscription music rental continue to struggle as well. Some say the model is simply broken. The success of Netflix is often used as a counterargument, but the music business is not the movie business.

Longer term, if subscription music rental can’t work as a standalone business, then it will only exist as a service offered by corporate behemoths to draw customers into the parts of their businesses where they do make money, like selling phones, service plans, or merchandise. And when the distribution of an entire art form is controlled by just two or three nation-state-sized companies, artists and labels will have even less leverage than they do now to set fair rates, the music promoted to fans will be controlled by a small handful of gatekeepers, and more and more artists will be hit with the one-two punch of lower rates and less exposure. The net effect for music as a whole is worrisome.

Bandcamp provides an alternative to all of this because we feel strongly that an alternative needs to exist. The fact that we continue to grow, and that that growth is accelerating, tells us that many of you agree. We’ll therefore continue to build on a model that compensates artists fairly and puts them in control of their data, gives fans all the convenience of streaming plus the benefits of ownership and still allows them to directly support the artists they love, and works as a standalone business that’s 100% focused on music (we just had our 17th straight profitable quarter, while also increasing our staff by 43% last year). Impending thermonuclear apocalypse notwithstanding, we are incredibly enthusiastic about 2017. At least two of the half dozen things we’ll launch this year will astound you, and one may even cause you to make an unexpected vacation detour. We can’t wait. Thank you for being a part of it!

P.S. Don’t miss Bandcamp Daily’s Best of 2016.

Credit Card Support!

Over the years, eight or nine (thousand) people have written to us asking for more ways to pay artists on Bandcamp. We’re pleased to announce that starting today, you have the option to use a credit card (or bank/debit card) to purchase digital albums and tracks, and also save your card with your fan account for faster checkout later. On top of that, you can purchase digital albums and tracks from multiple artists in a single step, rather than checking out for each artist individually. Discover some new music and try it out!

Things you may be wondering:

What cards are accepted?
Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

What currencies are supported?
Credit card checkout is available for digital-only purchases in US, Canadian, and Australian dollars, British pounds, Japanese yen, and euros (depending on your credit card provider, you may not be able to complete your purchase in all of these currencies). 

What about merch?
For now, PayPal will remain the only payment option for physical merch.

I’m an artist or label. Is the revenue share changing?
No. The revenue share is the same and you’ll continue to receive payments to your PayPal account. No action is necessary on your part.

Bandcamp, Downloads, Streaming, and the Inescapably Bright Future

In light of a recent report that Apple will soon abandon music downloads (later denied, but undoubtedly containing a certain amount of inevitability), we thought we’d take a moment to update you on the state of Bandcamp’s business and our plans for the future.

Bandcamp grew by 35% last year. Fans pay artists $4.3 million dollars every month using the site, and they buy about 25,000 records a day, which works out to about one every 4 seconds (you can see a real-time feed of those purchases on our desktop home page). Nearly 6 million fans have bought music through Bandcamp (half of whom are younger than 30), and hundreds of thousands of artists have sold music on Bandcamp. Digital album sales on Bandcamp grew 14% in 2015 while dropping 3% industry-wide, track sales grew 11% while dropping 13% industry-wide, vinyl was up 40%, cassettes 49%… even CD sales grew 10% (down 11% industry-wide). Most importantly of all, Bandcamp has been profitable (in the now-quaint revenues-exceed-expenses sense) since 2012.

Subscription-based music streaming,* on the other hand, has yet to prove itself to be a viable model, even after hundreds of millions of investment dollars raised and spent. For our part, we are committed to offering an alternative that we know works. As long as there are fans who care about the welfare of their favorite artists and want to help them keep making music, we will continue to provide that direct connection. And as long as there are fans who want to own, not rent, their music, that is a service we will continue to provide, and that is a model whose benefits we will continue to champion. We have been here since 2008 and we mean to be here in 2028. Thank you!

*Bandcamp is not a download store, and we very much embrace the convenience of streaming. When you buy music on Bandcamp, whether that’s in digital or physical form (30% of sales on Bandcamp are for vinyl and other merchandise), you not only get the pleasure of knowing you’re supporting the artist in a direct and transparent way, you also get instant, unlimited streaming of that music via our free apps for Android and iOS, as well as an optional, high-quality download. Your purchase is about direct support, ownership and access, whether that access takes the form of a stream, download, or both. So please consider joining us in never using “streaming” as shorthand for “subscription-based music.” The former is an inevitable technological shift, the latter is an unproven business model.