DIY Update: In Depth With bandcamp
A while back we looked at some Facebook plugins to allow users to hear your music on your Facebook page. One of those was the newly launched bandcamp plugin. This week, I wanted to take a closer look at the bandcamp service.
While Tunecore and CDBaby are great ways to get your music into the major online stores, bandcamp should be the first option bands sign up with for a number of reasons. First and foremost, bandcamp is a customizable online store for your band, which allows bands to directly sell digital downloads and physical products. There are no setup fees and no recurring charges for the service itself. You can set up a page for your band, customize the design, add your releases, upload them, link up your Paypal account, and you’re ready to sell your music online. (Note: Paypal is not available everywhere around the world, so that may be a barrier to some bands.)
That’s the gist of it, but some other compelling features include a music player and embeddable streaming widgets for blogs and social networks, in addition to recently released Facebook app, which allows you to completely integrate your store into your band’s Facebook page.
Before we get into all the details, take a look at bandcamp’s video for a quick introduction and to see just how easy it is to get set up, because I’m not going into that much detail on the setup front:
With no setup or subscription fees, bandcamp makes their money via a 15% revenue share on sales. This percentage drops to 10% when bands sell over $5,000 (and maintain those levels for the following 12 months). Physical sales are currently discounted at a 10% share, but are expected to move in line with the 15% for online sales.
With a great store and streaming music player, one might wish for a blog to make their band’s bandcamp page a one-stop shop for everything about the band. But perhaps the owners simply don’t want to go down that road of warehousing data for millions of bands. Storing music for thousands is probably daunting enough and given bandcamp’s model, it’s more important that they do this well. bandcamp has been making up for this with social integration, now displaying tour dates that are aggregated from Songkick. Hopefully twitter feeds are soon to follow.
While one could bemoan bandcamp for not being the next MySpace or Facebook for music, the fact is that bandcamp is all about selling music, and its store is exceptionally well implemented and easy to use for both the band and customers. Here are some other compelling features of the site:
- Upload once and bandcamp will automatically encode your songs to a variety of formats including MP3 (320 or VBR), Ogg Vorbis, Apple Lossless, FLAC and AAC available for download.
- High quality formats such as FLAC are great options for audiophiles, but bandcamp also supports higher quality uploads such as 24-bit and 32-bit, with sample rates up to 192kHz, resulting in FLACs that have better than CD quality.
- Automatic meta-data population (editable, of course).
- Include bonus download items in your download package - not restricted like many other stores.
- You set your own prices, including “name your price downloads” (with or without a minimum price). You can also make releases available for free download, but free downloads are limited (limits raise by actual sales) so as to not be a drain on bandcamp’s resources.
- Download codes for a free track or album, generated at will (with the same limitations on numbers as the free downloads noted above).
- Discount codes, generated at will by the band.
- Sell physical and digital formats side-by-side, with physical orders still getting an immediate download while the customer waits for the physical album to arrive.
- Support for pre-orders, including immediate download of select songs and notification when the full product is available.
- Fulfillment partner integration: your fulfillment partner can see all your merch orders at a glance, mark orders as shipped, search for orders, filter orders by date and shipped status, or generate reports.
Add to those features the ability to collect email addresses for free and paid downloads, search engine visibility, soundscan reporting, detailed statistics and reporting, and a list of other features that you may or may not be concerned about, and you have a service that is working for the band, not just selling your music.
There are a few limitations I am compelled to point out, however:
- You cannot sell physical products completely separately from downloads. But you can make bundles that involve both very easily.
- As noted above, a Paypal account is required to receive payment for purchases.
- You must own the copyrights to the music being sold or even made available on your bandcamp page. If you’ve given up your copyright to sign to a label, this may be a deal breaker. If you’ve got a cover song on an album, technically this would not be allowed either according to their terms of service (but should be with the proper licensing).
When bandcamp first arrived as a completely free service, I was impressed. But the service has evolved and added so many compelling features that it has become a powerful tool for bands to promote, sell, and connect with fans.
With a feature set like that and no barrier to entry, every artist with music to demo or sell should have a bandcamp store. The low cost (half of the cut of what many other digital stores take) and features make it a great place to offer fans special packages, bundles or editions (rarities or exclusives) not found anywhere else, selling them directly to fans and cutting out the middle man (more or less).
Getting your music online for sale is just the first step, however. Getting found and making sales is a whole different story. bandcamp has tools to help with that too, but ultimately, the rest is up to the band.
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