Bandcamp Reviews

Progressive Policies

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I was pleasantly surprised having looked into the Bandcamp's terms and stances on the music distribution market. Their 'fair trade music policy' proves the service to be one of the rare examples of genuinely fair and open relations between a platform, an artist/label and consumers. Their profit shares are much lower than commercial giants like iTunes and Amazon offer. Unlike many subscription-based streaming services, Bandcamp provides DRM-free and uncompressed content in the very close-to-direct way. They also seem to rejoice in opposing themselves to the former. Also, given the ridiculous Soundcloud copyright decay, Bandcamp confirms several things they will never implement:

  • a paid subscription model;
  • regional restrictions (hello Spotify and Last.fm);
  • snippets instead of full songs or copyright watermarks;
  • limits on alternative distribution sources for the artists;
  • obstacles for free unauthorised downloads via exposed parts of the code (which many classify as piracy).

To be completely fair, these should come with remarks:

  • Bandcamp still focuses on selling the content rather than free promoting;
  • you cannot make a 'fan' account unless you buy something, but you can stream and navigate without one;
  • it does have a Pro account feature, though it does not impact the core functions;
  • for unpaid albums customers are asked to pay after a fixed amount of plays is reached;
  • account holders may restrict access to certain tracks on their albums.

In the end, all of it is regulated by the artists themselves, who set prices (including "name yours") and streaming limits.
It makes Bandcamp probably the best global distribution platform for creators and an easy way for their fans to dig and buy music without overpaying slippery guys in suits who contribute nothing. Moreover, Bandcamp itself commits greatly to reconsidering the obsolete media business traditions and unjust trends, and shows off as a moderate rebel. No wonder it is so popular among independent artists and labels.

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Very clever review, love it.

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I would refer to Bodik's review for everything that is great about Bandcamp, both for artists and listeners. This is the way forward, and the way music distribution should be done. Moving away from the climate of threats, fear, distrust, bullying and downright scamming that the major labels and distributors have cultivated for decades, especially in light of their failure to adapt to a digital marketplace. Instead: mutual respect, trust and support, with a healthy and rational attitude. As I would sum it up: get people to want to buy your stuff, by offering them something in return; in contrast to the major label method of offering various excuses on why they offer less and less for the money, while spending their time and resources on going after people who don't give them any money, and wouldn't, no matter what they do. Bonkers.

Anyway, so much for the rant.

But I wanted to post this comment to make potential buyers aware of one important thing to keep in mind when shopping at Bandcamp: for physical rewards, you're dealing with the artists or labels directly. While Bandcamp handles everything on the digital front (streaming, downloads, etc.) in a unified way, they act only as a storefront for the rest. This means that you need to trust whomever you're buying from.

Personally, I have ordered physical records three times on Bandcamp so far. One of them arrived fine, the other two never did. Of course, that's also partly my fault for not following up on these orders earlier and more aggressively. But, since I was dealing with independent artists and small labels, I was very willing to be patient and give them the benefit of the doubt, for a long time. They're tiny operations, maybe they're on tour and won't get to it for a while, and so on. This mindset of patience almost directly transitioned into asking myself what would be the point of complaining now, it's been half a year, it's too late anyway.

In both cases, I still tried, and wanted to ask nicely about what might have happened to my order. I never got a reply to any of my messages sent through the Bandcamp contact form. No reply either when e-mailing artists or labels directly, in one case their e-mail didn't even work anymore. So the additional money I spent for record + shipping is lost. Luckily, since Bandcamp handles the digital part, I got the downloads and streaming access, so at least it's not a complete loss.

This isn't really Bandcamp's fault, since they're only handling payment of these orders, not the shipping. Still, considering I had a failure rate of 66% so far, I would consider buying physical goods on Bandcamp to be very risky, and I personally don't intend to try it again anytime soon.

Just be aware of this risk and, if you really want the physical copy, check if you can't order it somewhere else. Such as an independently run online record store, which house their own stock, and have a well set-up workflow for handling orders. There's a lot of excellent advantages to cutting out the middle man, but keep in mind that there are also disadvantages.

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Great tool for bands

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BandCamp seem like the best tool for self-publishing music and generally interacting with fans online.

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