I first started selling music online, independently, around 2005 and at that time there were almost none of the tools and resources available today. Facebook was barely formed and Twitter, Instagram and the likes didn’t exist yet.
Myspace was at its peak so finding an audience wasn’t hard but the only way to sell music was painfully manual and laborious. Once I had found a customer, I would then send them a PayPal invoice and once they had paid I would then email them the mp3 files of their purchase.
As you can imagine this was far from ideal and often meant me constantly refreshing my inbox waiting for payments so that I could provide a relatively swift service.
Eventually, I found E-Junkie, a website designed for selling digital files online. This automated the transaction, as soon as the customer paid they were sent a download link for the content. However, it wasn’t really suited for selling music as I still needed to host the preview files somewhere so they could hear the songs first, it was far from ideal but served me well for a year or so.
Then I discovered Bandcamp, and in one fell swoop pretty much all of the issues I had selling music online were gone. I was able to sell my music digitally, manage physical stock and connect with my audience.
In the 10 years, or so, that Bandcamp has existed, over $312million has been paid to artists via Bandcamp. Oddly though, about half the artists I speak to don’t have a Bandcamp, so it seems you may need some convincing.
Here are 9 reasons why every self-releasing artist should have one.
1. Instant, direct payment
When you sell music on iTunes, Spotify and the other online stores there is an inevitable delay in receiving the money and the stats, depending on what distributor/aggregator you used there may be a further delay in withdrawing those funds and/or a minimum threshold before they release the payment.
With Bandcamp, you receive the money within seconds of the music being purchased. I often hear the notification of receiving an email from Bandcamp followed seconds later by the Paypal notification, and these days PayPal withdrawals can reach your bank in a matter of minutes. Having this immediate source of constant revenue has obvious advantages.
2. Contact details of buyers
In addition to receiving the money almost instantly, you also get the buyers name and contact details. Something you will never ever be able to obtain from iTunes when someone buys your music there.
These emails are priceless, as they are not just random addresses for you to spam in the hope that a small fraction might click on a link, they are proven fans who obviously like music or they wouldn’t buy it. In fact, it’s worth emailing these people personally after they purchase to say a thank you, you may be surprised what a profound effect making that little bit of effort can have.
The emails can also be exported for use with email marketing platforms like MailChimp.
3. Facility to sell merchandise and manage stock
As well as being able to sell your music you can also sell merchandise on Bandcamp, this can be physical copies of the music such as vinyl and CDs or it can be t-shirts and hats etc.
You can even manage your inventory from your dashboard, set how many copies you have and it will prevent people from purchasing once the stock is depleted.
4. Customisable page
Your Bandcamp is customisable, you can change the colours and fonts, as well as add banners and images. This means that with very little tweaking you can use your Bandcamp page as the shop/merch page of your website, if you have one, instead of having to find and manage a third-party eCommerce system.
From your dashboard, you can see which of your songs have been streamed and/or purchased along with where the listeners are. It will even show you how long they listened to each track before skipping which can give you an idea of what your most, and of course least, compelling songs are. This data is display in easy to read graphs and some information, such as sales reports, can be exported.
6. Set your own price (and currency), accept overpayments (tips)
You can set your own price with a lot of online distributors but with Bandcamp, you can set your price at zero and give away the music, in return for their email address, or you can let the buyer set their own price as Bandcamp also allows overpayments. Around 50% of sales on Bandcamp are higher than the minimum set by the seller.
7. Subscription option
As well as selling your music as singles and downloads etc, you can also set up a subscription service. Where the listener pays a recurring fee for access to specific content, usually exclusives to encourage them to sign up. This can provide you with a regular income from your music as long as you have enough content to keep them paying.
8. Exposure to Bandcamp community
Over the last 10 years, Bandcamp has built up a solid community of music lovers who are more than happy to pay for music, they use the website and the app to discover and listen to music so being available on this platform gives you another community of potential fans.
9. It’s non-exclusive and can be used alongside your other distribution platforms
As you don’t assign any specific rights to Bandcamp, beyond the minimum required to run the service such as the right to host the content, you can upload your music to Bandcamp as well as using your usual online distributor. (However, Bandcamp requires you have full rights over both the composition and the sound recording of your songs, or to have written permission to use them commercially, which means cover versions are out unless you have already obtained a license.)
There are countless other great features and benefits of joining Bandcamp, and they can tell you much better themselves, but for me, the above reasons make Bandcamp a really important part of my arsenal as a self-releasing artist.