First some facts, then my speculations.
- Less than a year after being purchased by Epic Games (with few changes made to the user/artist experience and the successful unionization of Bandcamp employees), Bandcamp has been purchased by Songtradr.
- Songtradr is a music licensing and subscription-based distribution company—think things like DistroKid.
- Bandcamp offers extremely favorable artist sales splits, and has been the essential place for indie artists—from full-time professionals to occasional releases from musicians of all experience levels. It offers both streaming of user libraries, outright downloads in multiple lossless, high-quality audio formats, and discovery tools. On the artist end, Bandcamp allows you to place your music for sale for free, and takes cuts when you make a sale. It also offers free statistical tools and tracking.
The biggest thing, though, is that artists can list their own music for direct sale to buyers.
- When the Songtradr purchased closed, only half of Bandcamp’s current employees were offered contracts with the new company; functionally, half of Bandcamp’s current staff were laid off.
- It sucks that so many employees were laid off, and I don’t like that and don’t want to minimize that. That’s a lot of people that lost jobs in a company that’s been driven by empowering artists and listeners.
- Songtradr is an existing music-related company. Whereas Epic essentially purchased Bandcamp whole to operate as its own division, Songtradr more likely purchased Bandcamp as a merger/acquisition—meaning there were probably redundancies in positions or divisions as Bandcamp is absorbed. This is probably why so many contracts were not offered to Bandcamp employees by the new owners.
- No platform is your friend forever, or even your friend. That said, I’m in wait-and-see mode to see if there will be major changes to what I consider Bandcamp’s essential services and policies.
- I suspect that as a licensing and distribution company, Sontradr was interested in adding a marketplace like Bandcamp to both expand the catalog of music available to be licensed as well as integrate distribution to artist users on Bandcamp. For example, right now I sell music on Bandcamp but use CDBaby for distribution and Harry Fox/Songfile for mechanical licensing.
- If the artist and user experience of Bandcamp stays largely the same and any possible new integration features with Songtradr’s existing outfit are opt-in and non-exclusive (like being able to list music on Bandcamp but use any distribution service you choose) then I don’t think there will be much change; those are the things I would look out for, though.