With tour schedules indefinitely benched due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a musician’s ability to make bank now hinges on the virtual world. And yet streaming royalties, worn down by rights holder income division, means only top tier artists can subsist on, say, YouTube or Spotify income.
Perhaps this is why many smaller independent artists (and labels) have chosen Bandcamp as their platform of choice. Vinyl, CDs, downloads and other merchandise are sold to fans directly, sidestepping the 70% or 80% commission of record label contracts and publishing deals. Bandcamp takes 10% off the top of digital download sales and 15% from physical. The rest – 90% and 85% respectively – goes straight to the artist.
On March 20th, Bandcamp waived their fees to generate 15x more sales than a typical Friday and US$4.3m in revenue, all of which went directly into artists’ pockets. Time for a repeat. This Friday, May 1st, Bandcamp will be doing it again: zero fees on all sales generated from midnight to midnight (PDT) with all sales revenue going straight to artists.
For this music-first audiophile, buying an album as a Bandcamp download isn’t just about supporting the artist. It’s about accessing a lossless file (a FLAC) for the same money as an MP3. Once purchased, the Bandcamp download lives on a hard drive ready to be served at will. I see my collection of CD rips and downloads as a private streaming service where music remain immune to internet outages, customer profiling and contractual wrangles that cause much of the streaming service absenteeism.
In other words, downloads rule; and this coming Friday is another chance for us to fill our boots whilst supporting the artists that we love.
My tips: Alessandro Cortini and Daniel Avery’s Illusion of Time, Surgeon’s Search Deep Inside Yourself, John Tejada’s Moving 909s, Minor Science’s Second Language and Thin White Rope’s In The Spanish Cave.
Bandcamp has also announced that two more fee-free days will take place on the first Fridays of June and July.
Further information: Bandcamp fundraisers