Why Bandcamp is best

As Spotify has been making the news of late, I thought I’d have a look at streaming revenue and my music revenue in general.

Music is not the way I make a living. At present my music pretty much covers costs, which is great. However, that’s with lots of favours being pulled in and mates helping out. I’d rather be able to pay those lovely people who help out, and maybe be able to afford to put more time in than I can at the moment.

Most of the money I have made from music has been via Bandcamp. Bandcamp allows streaming, as well as the sale of downloads and physical merch. The streaming is free – it’s the shop window that gets people in and encourages them to buy – but the paid stuff is right there next to it.

I also have some of my music on Spotify which is just about streaming and nothing else.

How do Bandcamp and Spotify compare?

Spotify pays 0.004 dollars per play.

If I divide the amount of streaming plays I’ve had on bandcamp by the amount of money I’ve made from it, what is the equivalent per stream rate?

0.166 dollars per play.

0.004 dollars compared to 0.166 dollars.

Bandcamp is better financially, by a long, long way.

Bandcamp doesn’t actually pay per stream. The figures are a comparison. What it shows is that the bandcamp model of allowing streams for free right next to the downloads and physical merch is a better bet for an artist like me than Spotify’s micro-payments per stream.

Is this what every musician should do?

I don’t know! I’m not an expert. The musicians I’ve read about doing well out of Spotify are either those with mass appeal or those writing what seems essentially to be library music designed to get on to soundtrack playlists.

If that’s your thing and you think you’re likely to get the sort of figures that make it worthwhile go for it.

But Spotify isn’t for music fans is it? Spotify is the radio. It’s the soundtrack, the background. Spotify is the sound equivalent of wallpaper. You can’t poor over the album art, see the pictures, read the credits, by the merch, make a donation, show your support for your favourite artist.

If you have a Spotify subscription, no matter what you listen to some of your money is going to Ed Sheeran.

My music doesn’t really work that way. You have to pay attention if you want to get the most out of it. And I’d much rather cater to a smaller band of nutters who are properly into it than try and build an audience of hundreds of thousands. I don’t think that’s realistic for me, but Bandcamp has made it so that I don’t need to worry.

Sticking with bandcamp then? 

Yes. In fact I’ll be experimenting with their subscription model soon to see if there are some nutters out there who want to support in that way.

It makes me ponder the wider issues though. I’ve heard some say that people don’t value music as much as they used to. I think the people who say that have mistaken having to pay a certain price for wanting to pay it. As soon as music could be acquired cheaper and more conveniently lots of listeners took advantage of that.

In previous eras people had no choice. They had to buy. They couldn’t choose what value to give your music. As soon as they had the choice they switched.

Musicians haven’t done a good enough job of communicating the costs involved and making listeners feel like patrons. I firmly believe it is our job to do that. People who listen to our music are our allies, the recording industry – as exemplified by Spotify – is at best indifferent to music, and at worst actively hostile.

So for the time being I’ll be sticking to Bandcamp. There isn’t an audience of hundreds of thousands for my music, but there probably are a couple of thousand people out there who might like it, and it looks like Bandcamp is still the best way to share it with the world.

3 thoughts on “Why Bandcamp is best

  1. I’ve long been a fan of Bandcamp. I always liked the fact that you can stream on it then immediately buy if you like what you hear. Then there are their subscriptions, of which I have two. Like crowd-funders, but all year round and more personal. What clichéd it for me was when switched on and savvy musical goodguy, Matt Stevens extolled it’s virtue. A win/win for everyone.

  2. Pingback: Become an Immoral Supporter! – Bandcamp subscriptions now open | Tom Slatter

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