You can make fun of the name all you want, but Bandcamp has been one of the great success stories for online music.
The New York Times calls it “one of the greatest underground-culture bazaars of our time.” Bandcamp feels like one of those specialized record shops, like the ones you find a section just for BEATS, which I never thought would be replicable in the online world.
Bandcamp is like all music platforms folded into one: you can stream, download, and buy merchandise such as tapes, CDs, and sweatshirts directly from the artist. Unlike the iTunes Store 30% take, Bandcamp keeps only 15% of each sale. Ben Ratliffe summarizes the company’s growth:
Bandcamp, which started in 2008 and is run out of a number of small offices in San Francisco, Brooklyn and elsewhere, became profitable in 2012 and sells a record every five seconds. It grew 35 percent last year and has paid $169 million to artists, according to its website.
Bandcamp also invested in editorial talent to curate the best music discoveries on site, a strategy another fledgling independent music site SoundCloud should have implemented long ago. I dig new gems on the Bandcamp Weekly radio show every week. The host, Andrew Jervis, connects the dots between Electronica, Hip hop, and RnB like Gilles Peterson.
The next best thing for Bandcamp may just be the status quo, that is, to stay true independent music and keep highlighting the best artists on its platform. Bandcamp’s success proves that there’s still room to compete in a world of online music hegemons like iTunes and Spotify.
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