For those who are unaware, Bandcamp is an online home for your music, offering unlimited storage space, a customisable web address, fast streaming of your tracks and albums in full, and the following features:
- The listener's selection of format to download your tracks in: MP3 320, FLAC, MP3 VBR (V0), AAC, Ogg Vorbis or ALAC format
- "Name your price" downloads - meaning that as an artist you can either prescribe the amount of money you want to charge for a track or album, or you can make it available for free, or you can let the listener name the price they want to pay for the album (which can even be $0).
- Real-time statistics
- Very nicely mobile-optimised so it looks great when viewed from a smartphone
- Ability to sell your tracks directly within Facebook
- Loads more Bandcamp features can be read about here
Shameless plug alert - my Bandcamp website is http://pdmusic.bandcamp.com/. So why am I on Bandcamp?
I had an interesting email exchange with my cousin just this evening. Last weekend we saw a band a mutual friend plays in launching his EP (4 track CD in this case). Interestingly, in the online promotion post-the gig, someone had commented to our friend that he wished their album was on Bandcamp as he didn't use iTunes. Fair enough, some people may wish to not be tied to a "system" like iTunes.
While there are many discussions of the benefits or otherwise of iTunes, Bandcamp in particular appeals to me. The reason? Well... I used to charge for my music (even after I moved to Bandcamp), albeit only about $5 an album.
However in time I started to feel that people who would actually pay for music (rather than pirate it) are happy to pay what it's worth, not a negligible amount. A mere $5 for an album made by an individual with no solid financial backing, fanbase, or back-catalogue, recorded over many many days, weeks, or months is not too much to ask. In fact, I believe it's too little.
Never-the-less, if you let someone choose what they would like to pay for it (including $0 if they don't think it's worth anything more), then at least you're not putting up a barrier to them adding your songs to their playlist/s just because you were going to charge them for the music. The process of getting your music "out there", even if for free to some, may pay off in the longer run.
With so much mainstream pirating of music, if you're an amateur musician no one's ever heard of there are literally millions of others "just like you", not creatively, but the same in that they are unknown talents without a loyal following. If you're going to say "swipe your credit card before you can hear more", discoverers of your music are likely to click off your page never to return, moving on to download the next unknown's album or pirate a mainstream artist's work.
Sad, but I believe true. It's a funny state for the music industry. So my answer to the question "Is Bandcamp a good way to sell music?" is... well... I'm not sure. It's hard to know whether people will pay less than what your music is worth simply because they can, and may have otherwise paid a higher asking price.
However to the question "Is Bandcamp a good way to distribute music?" then I'd say whole-heartedly YES! By removing the payment "wall" you may increase exposure to your music (albeit via non-paying downloaders) - while at the same time offering paying customers a means to access your music and pay for it what they deem it is worth. Win-win!
Paul Doolan provides online keyboard session recordings for bands and solo artists.
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