Being an independent artist today is much easier than it ever was. There are literally hundreds of tools available for musicians to connect and engage with their fans online. And of course, you can always get NEW fans. One of the more popular and useful online platforms for recording artists is Bandcamp. San Francisco based Bandcamp.com, which is free to join, is an online music store and platform used for artist promotion. It caters mostly to independent recording artists. Artists on the site have access to a customizable profile, better known to bandcamp users as a “microsite.” Here they can upload albums where all their tracks can be played for free. Bandcamp takes a 15% cut of sales made through their website. Interestingly, Bandcamp’s percentage rate drops to 10% after selling more than $5000 worth of music. Thursday, January 10th 2013 Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond announced that bandcamp is joining the ranks of a social media site by adding new and innovative features to their services, which will be evident by updates to user profiles.
According to billboard.biz, “Bandcamp users can now follow artists, follow other Bandcamp users and explore the music collections of other people.” Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond took to a blog post and explained his reasoning for the new developments. Diamond explained that these new features are a reaction to the unpopular idea of the common frictionless sharing that is seen at most of the popular streaming services (frictionless sharing is a term made popular by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg use to describe the transparent sharing of resources using social media services). Bandcamp staff and users are not fond of the frictionless concept. So, being as innovative as this company is, they sought a way to create an opposite formula to sharing resources. Diamond calls the new features, and most notably the upgraded user pages a “social music discovery system based on the high-friction concept of ownership.” Check out Ethan Diamond’s blog here.
Bandcamp continues to adhere to more of an “old school” approach to social media. Their belief is built on the view that users sharing their music purchases is more important that just sharing a general interest in music. I seem to agree with this. Because if you are a fan, you should be out there buying music and actually supporting the artists you like rather than just talking about them via facebook. I always find it funny when I see certain friends of mine who just stumbled on classic artists like Led Zeppelin and they don’t actually buy any of their music. They just talk about them on posts. Ya, talking about them is better than nothing, but put your money where your mouth is. Become an actual fan in the traditional sense and buy the music. After all, that is the easiest and most direct way to support an artist. Purchasing an artist’s music signals a higher level of interest in the music that goes well beyond the realm of a general stream of facebook likes. If you were an artist making music, would you rather have someone like your facebook page? Or would you want someone to purchase your music? Your music is your art…hence why artists are called “artists.” Anyone can listen to music online now. But not just anyone will actually open their wallet for you. Having fans do that really says you are doing something right.
Other sites that adhere to the direct-to-fan business model/service are starting to implement a similar approach among their features. But no other service has integrated social media features in the way bandcamp has started to. Other do-it-yourself sites that cater to the DIY artist like “Topspin” and “Nimbit” place a high priority on selling both music and merch online. Yes, you can earn income from streaming. It will surely add up, although as seen with the Ellen Shipley vs. Pandora battle (refer to my last post of the top 10 people who affected the music biz in 2012), collecting money online can not only be inconsistent but also difficult. Artists can generate more income faster through music and merch sales. Bandcamp and it’s CEO Ethan Diamond are betting that this “high-friction” approach they are implementing will be extremely effective. In it’s recent beta test, Bandcamp noticed fans increased their spending by about 40%.
Bandcamp’s popularity continues to soar. Artists and music fans alike celebrate Bandcamp’s low-key approach to business. The company has been able to help their artists earn over $30 million dollars from sales (digital, CD, vinyl, merch and even the now rare cassette tape). In December of 2012 alone, Ethan Diamond reported to Billboard.biz that artists on their site were able to generate $2.1 million in revenue. The most exciting part of this is the fact that it’s double the number that was reported for December in the previous year. Bandcamp.com sells about 10,000 albums per day. Not only is this company successfully able to help all artists earn a living in the music industry, they are extremely innovative. In addition to all of the features being added, Bandcamp now added a “wish list feature” (the link for this looks like an outline of a little heart). WOW, talk about being innovative and doing everything you can to service and assist your clients toward success.
Seeing changes like this to social media reinforces the fact that we at Fame Wizard are really on the right path, and are also trailblazers for the future of the music industry. It reinforces the concept that the music business is not dead. It is in fact alive and well. Just different. It is much, much better to be an artist in the music industry today! So many more opportunities and ways to reach your fan base easier, and make money. Every time you clamor for the “good old days” of the music business, just remember that without the advancements in technology and social media, you would be corresponding and selling merch with fans via a fan club and “snail mail.”