Author Archives: Ben

Bandcamp developer and half of Oxford chic-pop band Candy Says.

Bands Called Atlas (and Other Year-End Stats)


There are just over 1 million hours of audio on Bandcamp now (roughly 121 years’ worth), and 34 seconds of audio are uploaded every second. All of that audio is connected to an intricate web of information about artists and fans, making Bandcamp a treasure trove for data nerds. We took a dive into the database to unearth some numbers and lists that we find interesting, and hope you do too.

Global Release Day

In February 2015 the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry declared a Global Release Day, deciding that all music in the world would now be released at 00:01 on Fridays, starting in July 2015. In the past, each country had its own release day tradition: albums were released on Tuesdays in the U.S. and Canada, Mondays in the U.K., Fridays in Australia.

We compared the number of albums released on Fridays in August–October 2014 with the same period this year to see if Bandcamp artists follow the rules. The most reliable way we can divide the data geographically is by currency, so in this case “U.S. albums” means albums with a U.S. dollar price tag.


There has indeed been a marked shift in release day patterns. The most popular day for U.K. album releases has moved from Mondays to Fridays. In the U.K, 26% of albums are now released on a Friday (up from 16% in 2014). The same effect can be seen in other E.U. countries, but to a lesser extent. In the U.S., 22% of albums are now released on a Friday (up from 15% in 2014, when 24% were released on a Tuesday). Friday was always Australia’s release day, so nothing much has changed there.

The shift in spending is even more dramatic: 35% of money spent on both U.K. and U.S. albums is now spent on those released on a Friday (up from 12% in the U.K. and 15% in the U.S. last year). This might be explained by the fact that bands and labels with higher sales numbers and more expensive albums are more likely to be tied into the parts of the music business that take Global Release Day seriously.

We also looked at how sales vary by time of day. In general, each country sells the most music around 8 p.m. in their own time zone and the least between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. But Europeans buy a lot of music by American bands, so sales in U.S. dollars actually peak around noon PST (8 p.m. in the U.K.) and stay high through the afternoon before dropping off later in the evening.

We can’t guarantee that releasing your album at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday will make you more money, or that a Sunday release won’t. We’re neither professional statisticians nor music industry marketing gurus.

Band names

The most popular band names on the site are:

  1. Atlas (69 bands)
  2. Apollo (48)
  3. Bloom (34)
  4. Nomad (33)
  5. Moon (31)
  6. Zero (31)
  7. Ghost (30)
  8. Haze (30)
  9. Paradox (30)
  10. X (30)

Since tweeting about the most popular band names, it seems that the number of bands called “Atlas” on the site has increased at an even higher rate than the historical Atlas Signup Rate (A.S.R.) would have predicted. We can only imagine that the popularity of the name “Atlas” has inspired other artists to adopt it, either as an ironic statement about internet culture or out of a sincere post-ironic respect for the existing Atlases, whose shared moniker reveals the essential sameness of all humans. It’s hard to tell.

Longest album name

With digital releases, artists aren’t subject to the arbitrary limits imposed by physical formats, shelf space, or common sense. They can express themselves freely. And nothing says freedom like an extraordinarily long album title. The longest title of an album that sold at least one copy in 2015 is:

je ramasse la jupe, je ramasse les perles étincelantes ////////////////////// en noir, cette chose qui a bougé une fois autour de chair, et j’appelle Dieu un menteur, je dis n’importe quoi qui a bougé comme cela ou savait mon nom ne pourrait jamais mourir dans la vérité commune de mourir

In case you’re wondering, it’s a French translation of the start of a Bukowski poem, for Jane: with all the love I had, which was not enough:. Honorable mentions in the longest title category must go to this meta-title, this stream of consciousness, and this literary masterpiece.

Bandcampers’ favorite albums

The Bandcamp staff have wildly varying music tastes, so it’s fun to find the connections by looking at the albums that appear in multiple Bandcampers’ collections.

The most staff-collected albums, while excellent, must be excluded from the list in the interest of fairness. Many of us have subscriptions to Candy Says and Germany Germany (both of whom have members who work at Bandcamp) and of course the Bandcamp City Guide (Oakland) is a popular purchase. Excluding those, the top nine most-collected albums by Bandcamp staff are:

  1. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes by Thom Yorke
  2. Into The Trees by Zoe Keating
  4. Roll the Bones by Shakey Graves
  5. Transitions by EL TEN ELEVEN
  6. Now, More Than Ever (Remastered Edition) by Jim Guthrie
  7. Fugue State by Vulfpeck
  8. Dysnomia by Dawn of Midi
  9. My First Car by Vulfpeck

Quick-fire facts

FACT: The highest amount paid for a single album or merch item is US$1,000, and in 2015 there have been 31 thousand-dollar sales. Four of them were for albums raising money for charity, one was for a band raising money to fix their broken-down tour bus, and one was for a small, plastic rhinoceros with a $1,000 price tag and a note saying “Please do not attempt to purchase.”

FACT: The prize for biggest fan collection goes to Michael, who has (quite incredibly) amassed 3,870 items at the time of this writing.

FACT: Since the European Union changed their rules about Value Added Tax on digital purchases at the start of 2015, we’ve collected V.A.T. from music fans in each of the 28 E.U. countries, and had our fleet of long-distance cormorants deliver 28 variously sized novelty checks to the governments of Europe. The largest checks went to the U.K., Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy. Slovenian, Maltese, and Cypriot music fans were the least active on the site, so their governments got normal-sized checks.

FACT: 1,889 albums were released on April 20 this year. That’s a lot more than average and we can’t be sure why. It’s possible that they were all aiming for Record Store Day (April 18) and missed, or that musicians worldwide were celebrating the birthday of renowned 16th-century theologist Johannes Agricola. Or maybe 4/20 is just a good day to release an album.

Genre wars

We all know that classifying music by genre is outdated, futile, stifling, and impossible. It can also be useful and fun, and makes Discover a much more interesting tool for exploring music. Artists on Bandcamp decide for themselves which high-level genre they want to inhabit, so as you’re enjoying these next top-five lists, bear in mind that they could mean almost anything.

Here are the best-selling genres when you look at the total amount paid in 2015 for releases in a particular genre (e.g., more money was paid for electronic music than for any other genre):

  1. Electronic
  2. Rock
  3. Alternative
  4. Metal
  5. Hip-Hop

Here are the top five when you sort by the number of bands in a genre that sold something in 2015 (e.g., there are more actively selling rock bands than any other genre of artist):

  1. Rock
  2. Electronic
  3. Alternative
  4. Hip-Hop
  5. Metal

And here are the top five sorted by the average amount paid to each band in a genre (e.g., podcast artists* made more money, on average, in 2015 than any other genre):

  1. Podcasts
  2. Jazz
  3. Funk
  4. Soundtrack
  5. Electronic

*Yes, that’s a real thing.

The rise (and fall?) of THE HIPSTER TRI∆NGLE

RUFFI∆NKICK was the first band on the site to use the now-classic “all caps with a ∆ for the A” band name style. The craze took a while to get going, but when U.K. indie band alt-J won the Mercury Prize in 2012 and taught everyone how to type it, the hipster triangle started to appear everywhere. 142 B∆NDS signed up in 2013, the most triangular year to date.

Each year musicians have found ever more inventive and exciting ways to write letters using triangles, with the most daring using triangles as abstract shapes with no alphabetical meaning—pure triangle bands. In July 2012 we saw the first band called ; in 2014 we noticed ∆••∆••∆ and ∆∆∆. Earlier this year the first quadritriangular band arrived: ∆∆∆∆.

How does a fad like the hipster triangle band name end? Does it just fizzle out? Only last month we were treated to ∇∆∇∆∇∆∇∆∇∆∇∆∇∆, which suggested that band names might eventually degenerate into pretty patterns. But then we remembered the golden rule: no musical fad is truly over until a band called Atlas gets involved.

Oh, look: [∆TL∆S].

Right Away, Great Captain!

Andy Hull, lead singer of Atlanta band Manchester Orchestra, has just finished the third in a trilogy of solo albums under the name Right Away, Great Captain!

On May 17th, pre-orders opened on the $60 4-LP triple-album set, and a $120 deluxe edition. It sold out in four days. We caught up with Andy to learn more…

First off, congratulations. You signed up for Bandcamp the day before your record went on sale, so we were pretty surprised when your pre-sale just blew up.

Yeah, that was crazy. The Bandcamp front page had the real time sales updates and we could see what was moving. That was my home page for a couple of days.

How did you come to release a 4-vinyl set?

The Church Of The Good Thief vinyl trilogy set by Right Away, Great Captain!For me it was a pretty intense decision to print up all three of those albums, especially on a four-LP set with colored vinyl. We’ve done extensive packaging before with the other bands that I’m in but there’s always been a label who’s helped to do it all. This time it was truly just me on my own, with a little bit of help from Jeremiah [Edmond, former Manchester Orchestra drummer]. It’s an investment in yourself, and it’s daunting to put down enough money to print that many.

When the day came to finally put it on sale, I was hoping that in the first hour we’d have 10 to 15 sales overall, of anything. By the time I got back home I think we’d sold 60 of the deluxe package and 70 of the regular, and within two hours the deluxe was gone! I hit a point where I’d made a profit and it was a total relief. It had been an eight-month waiting period to see if it was going to work.

I’d never printed a Right Away, Great Captain! vinyl and I’d only printed 500 CD copies of each of the two first albums. I figured there were fans because people were talking to me about it but I didn’t really know if they were serious, if they were going to be able to drop $60. It’s a pretty expensive package.

You’ve really concentrated on the physical product here, and created something quite extraordinary. Did you make your ideal package or did you try to figure out what your fans might want?

Andy Hull making lyrics bookletsBoth, but when what you like and what the fans like are aligned, that’s usually when you’ve got something that’s going to work. I find more and more that I like the really unique stuff.

When I was planning the whole thing it would have been easy to decide to print it up on standard vinyl and not do the tri-fold packaging (which is really expensive!). But I wanted to make it worth the $120, which is a totally ridiculous price. So the deluxe edition is made by my mom and me in my basement with a Dremel tool, drilling holes in these books. I wrote all the lyrics out by hand and we’re hand-stitching them with yarn. There are 120 of them, and everything’s numbered and signed. It’s totally crazy the amount of work that’s gone into it.

For me it was such a labour of love to finish this trilogy of albums (it’s been six years in the making), and this was the coolest way to release it. Make a limited run of 1000, make sure everything’s top of the line. The fact that it sold out proved that people like something tangible, especially if it’s done well, and that they are willing to pay for it. It’s up to us as musicians to create something that’s cooler than they could imagine.

How did you go about promoting the release?

I partnered up with one website called Property of Zack, who’s a nice kid who lives in Philadelphia. It’s a site that gets some traffic, and that might get reposted by one or two other sites. I just needed someone who puts out good stuff online to partner up with. So we did an interview about three months before the release, talking about this last chapter of the trilogy. Then about a month and a half after that we released the first song from the record and let that sit for a couple of weeks. Then we announced the record, the track listing and the release date. The next week the pre-order date went up.

So it was probably about six weeks of just dropping stuff on the Favorite Gentlemen site, Manchester Orchestra’s site and on Property of Zack. But very little press at all. People just knew that it was coming and they wanted it, I guess.

How valuable do you think the pre-order process is?

Massive! Massive. It was so easy. I’m going to sound like a commercial for Bandcamp, but it literally was the easiest thing to do, and the numbers were right there in real time.

I’d paid for the vinyl and was waiting for it to be shipped, and the pre-order was way helpful for me because it really gave me an idea of how fast I needed to move on everything. I was fully prepared to be moving about ten records a day for a while, but it didn’t work out like that.

In the end you sold 820 vinyl records in four days.

That’s right. Along with another twenty that we bundled with pre-sale tickets that’s 840 in four days, which is pretty cool for such a big package.

Thanks Andy!

You’re welcome. I appreciate everything you guys did to make it possible!

Andy Hull of Right Away, Great Captain!

The Church Of The Good Thief is out today on Favorite Gentlemen Recordings. The vinyl is all sold out, but you can still buy the digital album.