Author Archives: Ethan Diamond

Create Vinyl with Bandcamp

Create Vinyl with Bandcamp

Sales of vinyl records on Bandcamp have grown 600% in the last five years, and every month another 3,500 unique vinyl albums are added to the site. The format’s resurgence—once dismissed as a niche byproduct of hipster affectation—is now firmly established, and seen for what it truly represents: a mainstream desire to connect more deeply with music, free from digital distractions; an important expression of fandom that was mostly lost in the transition from physical media ownership to unlimited music rental; and a growing appreciation for what is often amazing, collectible art.

And yet most new music is not available on vinyl. A mere 9% of the albums with sales on Bandcamp in 2018 offered a vinyl version, and thousands of those are sold out and appear unlikely to be pressed again. The reason for this situation—and the growing pile of untapped artist revenue it represents—is that producing vinyl remains challenging. It’s a costly and risky undertaking, and dealing with fulfillment and returns can be incredibly time consuming. Layer on top of that the mystery and complexity encountered by many trying to press vinyl for the first time, and it’s no wonder so few people do it.

Today, we’re offering a first glimpse of an initiative from Bandcamp that aims to address these challenges. Our new vinyl pressing service streamlines the financing, production, and fulfillment of vinyl records. With no up-front investment, an artist or label can create a vinyl campaign and start taking orders almost immediately. Once they reach their minimum goal, we press their records and ship them to their fans.

The new service eliminates risk, since fans’ orders finance the pressing, rather than the artist or label. It eliminates hassle, since we press the records, print the packaging, and ship to fans (and fulfill digital too). It offers complete control, with the design and pricing up to the artist, and Bandcamp taking no ownership of the record. And it produces a quality result: our manufacturing partner has over 60 years experience pressing vinyl, so the records look, and sound, great.

The Bandcamp vinyl service will open to all artists and labels later this year, but today we’re launching four pilot campaigns that provide an idea of what’s possible:

 

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah Vinyl Campaign

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, the Grammy-nominated jazz trumpeter and composer, is offering a vinyl edition of his most recent album, Ancestral Recall, on a double LP in a gatefold jacket. 10 signed test pressings are also available.

 

Jim Guthrie Vinyl Campaign

Jim Guthrie is well known to Bandcamp audiences for his acclaimed game soundtracks for Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery and Indie Game: The Movie. In late 2018, Guthrie released the soundtrack for Below, an epic and moody masterpiece. For the first time, fans will be able get Below on vinyl, in a beautiful triple-gatefold, color double LP with die-cut foil-stamped inner sleeves. An hour of bonus material from the soundtrack is also offered, as well as a limited-edition 11″ x 17″ velvet poster.

 

Juliette Jade Vinyl Campaign

Shredders worldwide know French guitarist Juliette Jade, who has built a cult following for her cover videos on YouTube and original albums on Bandcamp. Juliette’s music has never been available on vinyl before, but her new campaign for Constellation will remedy that, complete with signed copies, and hand-numbered, limited-edition custom guitar picks.

 

Mesarthim Vinyl Campaign

The mysterious Australian black metal artist Mesarthim has just released a new album, Ghost Condensate, as a color vinyl gatefold LP. A limited edition fold out poster and 10 test pressings are also available.

 

Territory licensing comes to Bandcamp

Territory Licensing Support

We’re excited to introduce a new feature for label and Pro accounts: the ability to license albums to labels in specific territories.

Here’s how territory licensing on Bandcamp works. Imagine you’re a label releasing an album, and you’ve partnered with another label to distribute it to fans in Iceland. In the album editor, you’ll see a new “add a territory license” link. Click that, look up your partner (they will need to have an existing Bandcamp account), add them, and then select the territory you’d like to license to them.

Demo of Territory License Support

We’ll notify your partner via email that you’ve set up a territorial license for the album. Once they accept the license they can choose to add their own merch and artwork to be displayed to fans in their territory.

When fans in Iceland purchase the album on Bandcamp, we’ll collect the money and send the appropriate share of revenues to your partner. Voila.

Our territory licensing tool allows you to add multiple partners, and to assign a partner multiple territories. Because all of this is done behind-the-scenes, fans around the globe will still be able to buy and enjoy albums you’ve licensed just as they have in the past. We simply make sure the money goes to the right people in the right places.

Happy licensing!

The Bandcamp 2017 Year in Review

2017-year-in-review-2-anim

2017 was another stellar year for Bandcamp, with double digit growth in every aspect of the business. Digital album sales were up 16%, tracks 33%, and merch 36%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl (up 54%), CDs (up 18%), and cassettes (up 41%). Revenue from the 3,500 independent labels on Bandcamp grew 73%, and more than 600,000 artists have now sold something through the site. Our publication, Bandcamp Daily, grew its audience by 84%, and all-time payments to artists through Bandcamp reached $270 million. We launched a new app for artists and labels, added gift cards, improved fan collections, held successful fundraisers for the ACLU and TLC, and we’ll soon mark six straight years as a profitable company that only makes money when artists make a lot more money.

Meanwhile, standalone music streaming companies continued to lose money in 2017, and industry-wide record sales continued to decline: in the U.S., digital album sales dropped 20%, tracks were down 23%, and physical sales fell 20%. The seemingly inevitable upshot of these two trends is that the majority of music consumption will eventually take place within the subscription rental services of two or three enormous corporations, who can afford to lose money on music because it attracts customers to the parts of their businesses that are profitable.

As we said last year, allowing the distribution of an entire art form to be controlled by so few has troubling implications, and those continued to play out in 2017. The streaming giants exert tremendous influence over what music gets heard, and must primarily serve their most important supplier, the major labels. The result is that independent labels, and especially independent artists, are far less likely to be discovered on those platforms. 99% of all streaming is of the top 10% most-streamed tracks, and given the majors’ control over the music that is promoted on streaming services (documented in the must-read piece “The Secret Lives of Playlists”), listening hours are likely to become even more concentrated at the top.

Per stream rates also continued their decline in 2017, dropping another 9%, which is the opposite of the this-will-all-work-out-when-we’re-big-enough dream once sold by music rental companies. This trend feels unstoppable given the effect of decreased competition on artists’ ability to set fair rates, but a ray of hope seemed to emerge two weeks ago when the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board ruled to increase songwriter streaming rates by 48% over the next five years. However, that’s an impediment to profitability that can easily be resolved by eliminating musicians altogether.*

In the midst of all this, NPR Music’s Andrew Flanagan wrote:

“Bandcamp serves as an honest-to-goodness, proof-in-the-pudding bulwark against the creep of artistic monoculture fueled by the consolidation of digital life into the hands of a few companies. Maybe the future isn’t a dumpster fire after all.”

This made us laugh of course, but it also accurately captured what drives us to keep building and growing Bandcamp after all these years (we’ll celebrate our 10th anniversary this September, more on that to come). We want a music platform to exist where the playing field is level, where artists are compensated fairly and transparently, and where fans can both stream and own their music collections. The fact that this simple concept continues to resonate with so many talented artists and hard core fans inspires us every single day, and in 2018 we’ll be working hard to bring it to an even bigger audience. Thank you for another great year!

-Ethan Diamond

*Or hey, maybe there’s nothing to worry about after all.

Introducing the Bandcamp App for Artists and Labels

The Bandcamp App for Artists and Labels is here! It gives you a real-time mobile view into your stats, helps you manage and fulfill your merch, and lets you directly message your fans, even targeting those messages by fan location and level of support. Check out the screencast above for more details, and grab it for Android or iOS!

Please send media inquires to press@bandcamp.com.

Chad Dickerson Joins Bandcamp’s Advisory Board

We are very happy to share that Chad Dickerson has joined Bandcamp as an advisor! Chad’s many years of experience running Etsy (one of the largest and most successful global marketplaces) will be hugely valuable to us as we continue to make Bandcamp the best platform for artists and fans around the world. Furthermore, his passion for music and appreciation of our artist-friendly model make him uniquely suited to help us grow Bandcamp in a thoughtful and sustainable way. Beyond that, Chad is a great human being and someone we look forward to spending more time with as a team. We could not be happier to have him on board!

Check out Chad’s announcement (and his kind words!) here.

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!

-Ethan Diamond

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