In this day and age, distribution of your music has become accessible to every musician, whether they are signed or not. You can get your music up on the net and make it available for free or for sale. Various sites can produce several hundreds of your CD’s relatively cheaply for you to sell them at your gigs. The challenge has become choosing which of these plethora of online services to use. To help with that decision, here is my review of one such site: Bandcamp.
Bandcamp is very clear about what it does. It hosts music for free or for sale in a very clean site. Bandcamp has far less number of features than a site like Reverbnation; but the few features it has, it has them clean and smooth.
If you decide to host your music in Bandcamp, you are asked to upload a high quality wav file (rather than an mp3) and they can convert it to many different formats including typical mp3′s at various bitrates or other higher quality formats. This way, you upload one file (which is high quality) and then your fans can get whatever version they want. If there are audiophiles among your fans they will enjoy getting hi-fi versions. Bandcamp also makes sure the file that your fan downloads have proper mp3 tags and album/track art so that when they play your song in their favorite device/player, they have all the catalog information correctly.
Uploading your songs and creating albums are pretty easy. Once you upload your music, fans can stream your songs from the Bandcamp site or from elsewhere (blogs, facebook etc.) through player widgets you can post. You can decide whether to make downloads available for free or for sale. One interesting feature in Bandcamp is that it allows your fans to pay more than the minimum price you put. In other words you can set your song to be a “name-your-price” song with a minimum of 99 cents and if your fans want to support you more they can pay two dollars or more.
On the main Bandcamp page, there are some interesting statistics. On Bandcamp, albums outsell tracks 5 to 1 and on name-your-price albums fans typically pay %50 more than the minimum price. These are very encouraging stats. Selling an album as opposed to a track is by definition increased volume for the artist.
Also on the first page there is a five-minute video that does a good job of summarizing how Bandcamp works as well as a well written FAQ section. I strongly recommend checking them out.
Bandcamp also allows you to collect a fan’s email address in exchange for a free download.
For the artist Bandcamp also provides detailed statistics about how many people listen to / buy / download your tracks or where in the web are people talking about your music (linking to your Bandcamp page).
Now let’s look at the price tag for the service. Creating an account and uploading music to Bandcamp is free. They make money from individual sale transactions. and their cut is only 15%. They make the payments to your Paypal account.
What could be improved in Bandcamp? Right now, your Bandcamp page will only have your music and album art. It would be nice if you could put a blog, a bio, some photos and most importantly your upcoming gigs. Not being able to blog and announce my upcoming gigs on Bandcamp has forced me to do those things at other places and is a bit inconvenient. If you want one page to do all of this then Bandcamp is probably not what you want.
On the other hand if you are OK (or even prefer) to distribute your online presence on to multiple sites then as far as music hosting goes, I think Bandcamp is really good. It has a good set of features, is easy to use, clean and very affordable.
See you all in another post soon.