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Independence for Bands 101 – Pt. 3 – BandCamp

30/12/2009

So there’s Myspace. We’ve all heard of Myspace and that it’s a must for bands. Well, while I believe MySpace will become more important in 2010, it’s certainly not the behemoth it was 5 years ago, and it’s certainly one of the more user-baffling in terms of use.

I’m on a bit of a quest at the moment to share some of the more useful internet tools for musicians, as well as to overthrow the opinion that if you have a Myspace page, you have the essential web-presence you need.

So, today, it’s the awesome Bandcamp.

I’ve already mentioned Bandcamp on the Hope and Social Blog, but here I want to cover the great reasons why bandcamp is, for me, the ultimate place to distribute your finished products online.

Simple clean interface for fans

It looks beautiful. Bandcamp is the essence of simplicity for fans. When you land on your band’s bandcamp page it shows, quickly and elegantly, your most recent release and allows you to play it, view lyrics, track/album credits, see a discography (can you have such a thing in the digital world?).

With just 1 click you can play the opening track, start to download and/or buy albums or tracks, straight from the album page. Have a look at the enigmatic, webtastic Steve Lawson’s bandcamp here, or for a flavour of how other people are doing it, check out the Bandcamp artists page.

You get the money, if you choose to get the money

While iTunes may still be the most popular way of buying music online, it’s nowhere near as favourable as bandcamp is for artists. Also, because you control the price point (free, free for low bit-rate mp3, pay for hi-res, pay what you want, fixed price etc.) you control for what and how much people pay for your art. I must say that as an artist, I’m far more likely to buy in a Bandcamp environment than I am on iTunes. I still want the music on my iPhone, I just want it at a bit-rate that sounds good to me, and I’d rather the money went to the artist than to Apple; they’ve had more than enough cash from me and my phone. ;)

It’s Sharable

Where do you want to share your music? Where do you want your music available? On MySpace, no problem, just grab the code and embed it (as we’ve done here), on a wordpress blog like this, it’ll post directly to Facebook for you, Bancamp gives you the permalink to embed into emails, will generate a post for twitter, embed it into typepad and blogger blogs and if you want to put it up elsewhere, on your website? No problem, just embed it. They’ll give you the code for that too

“But Myspace is what got the Arctic Monkeys a deal and made them famous yeah?” No!

“[When we went number one in England] we were on the news and radio about how MySpace has helped us. But that’s just the perfect example of someone who doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. We actually had no idea what it was.” Arctic Monkeys in Prefix Magazine

And here’s one of the key things that makes Bandcamp stand head and shoulders above MySpace…

It’s Social

All the sharing that I’ve mentioned above, it can be done by your fans, by bloggers, by people who run their own website. This is critical to the independent music model. Your fans are your marketing force. They are your PR’s, your press team, your pluggers. They can embed your tracks on their blog, their myspace, post to their facebook page, tweet about it for you. This is how we reach new fans.

It’s easy for newbies yet versatile enough to cater for specialist fans

With one easy upload (per track) of a lossless audio file Bandcamp serves up your tracks to your fans in high, variable and low bit rate mp3, AAC, FLAC, Ogg, Vorbis… The geeks love it! And you can decide Choose between giving away your music, setting a price, letting folks name their price – it’s up to you.

Stats galore

Play Defender on your Bandcamp Stats

Play Defender on your Bandcamp Stats

See where your plays are coming from, embedded plays, from your Bandcamp pages? Full plays or are people skipping certain songs? (Helping you decide whether to re-order your songs on a digital release, or change track ordering before a physical CD run) How do people find your bandcamp music? Links from your own website/blog, google, twitter? See your links in directly from the stats page.

You can also play the classic ’80’s game “Defender” on your stats.

The Kicker – Physical Goods Sales

I’ve been loving Bandcamp for a while now. We’ve been looking for a single solution, to our Pay What You Want across digital and physical, and we’re nearly there. A month or two ago, Bandcamp started doing physical CD sales. This enabled Hope and Social to release our special edition box-set “Be The Architect” and incorporate it into our bandcamp page where it belongs, with all our other releases. I don’t think there’s a more complete solution to digital and physical distribution available.

Oh, did I mention that setting an account up is free? It must be time to sign yourselves up.

What could it do better?

I look forward to seeing how Bandcamp develop their services over the coming months. Bandcamp support tell me that they are looking to implement Pay What You Want on physical goods (it’s always the postage that’s tricky, particularly internationally), which I wholly support the ethic of.

I’m wondering whether a CRM tool such as “People who downloaded this also downloaded this” would detract from the purchasing experience and the fact that Bandcamp can feel just like an extension of an artist’s website (our address is www.music.hopeandsocial.com for example). I’d like it to feel a bit more communityish too, like from the artists page, I’m sure there could be a neater browsing facility, or perhaps a band-biog intro to each band. Could there be video integration or embedding?

That said, I could be muddying the waters here. It’s clean, clear and elegant, why change?

One thing I truly hope is on the cards is a mobile version, or if it’s easier, a mobile app. I really don’t mind, I just want to be able to play bandcamp based music on my phone. It’s not an iTunes killer, but then I don’t think anything is in that category right now. However, the ability to stream (like the Last.fm app) would be an immediate win.

So What Do You Think?

What are your experiences of bandcamp? Tell us why you think it’s great. Tell me what you think could be improved. Tell others why they should use bandcamp.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 05/01/2010 11:41 pm

    fantastic blog hux. whole heartedly agree with you on every level.
    since starting up bandcamp I’ve had a lot of posetive repsonse. for one thing the sound quality of your uploaded music is ten times better than myspace.
    I would say bandcamp, soundcloud, facebook, twitter and myspace are all essential.. but also having your own website (www.mikegatto.co.uk) always seems to put across the right message with regards new fans, promoter etc. I’ve found it seems that having your music on itunes, napster etc impresses the masses enough to check you out…or at least ‘spread the word’ – maybe one sunny day this will change :(

    keep on blogging rich… you give independent artists like myself a new Hope that encourages me to carry on!

    Gatto x

  2. 09/01/2010 3:59 pm

    Good points Mike. I do think that your own site is a great asset, and even a personal blog to go with that. I’ll go on to talk about myspace, SoundCloud and Twitter in later posts.

    As for iTunes well, while it may not provide the same revenue to artists as your own site/bandcamp etc. it’s still just how some people consume music. Some people want a physical CD, some people want a hi-res MP3, some people want vinyl; I think the point is to give people the option to consume your music the way they want to. It’s not about how we as artists want to release (“I only do vinyl, gatefold artwork, the works), it’s about giving people what they want.

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