Since the dawn of web 2.0 and widespread music streaming, the music industry has become less of a streamlined industry and it’s gotten the money grabbing fascists at the top all hot and bothered.2015 in particular was a monumental year for people attempting to take money hand over fist, pillars of fucking artistic integrity like Kanye and Jay Z launched a music streaming service which has since floundered and died and Soundcloud were argued down by the PRS over their impending subscription service so that artists might actually get a fair deal.
Since it’s foundation nearly 10 years ago, Bandcamp has arguably been one of the biggest tools of the musical underground . Tom Kirby is a photographer and a regular user of bandcamp from Cardiff; ‘most of my music comes from the underground, in as much as I don’t pursue mainstream formats of music access. Bandcamp has been a vital tool for me, in terms of being able to access and ultimately purchase physical copies of music, particularly vinyl and cassette’ As far as small artists and labels go, Bandcamp is arguably one of the best things to come out of the music scene in the past 5 years, it’s a portfolio of one’s musical accomplishments, you can sell merch and physical copies of your albums, aswell as stream and offer your music for a negotiable fee.
Aneurin Drew Jones is the founder of Stoke on Trent bass label Infernal Sounds (IFS001 just dropped and it’s fucking great, even GetDarker think so), a label that’s just started out and is all over the Bandcamp hype; ‘It’s been very useful for us, It’s beneficial as you can host whatever products you want on there and at the freedom you want. Instead of having to wait for a distributor to get round to it, being so big and having so many clients, you can put whatever you want on, when you want’, Infernal sounds is a label (among many others) utilising Bandcamp for more than just streaming and downloads, in an age in which vinyl is a viable format (and in fact by some accounts, kept the music industry going in 2015) and (sadly) merch is one of the most viable sources of incomes for musicians, it’s a breath of fresh air for smaller artists and labels who actually want to turn a profit from their hard work
Aneurin says ‘It’s also the fact that with distributors you’ll see a fraction back per item of vinyl sold. With Bandcamp, you can charge a rounded £8 and as we’re using the distributor to send them out, we’re able to make a bit of money where we might not have been able if we weren’t using Bandcamp, making it easier to push towards that break even’ whilst it might be seen as somewhat controversial offering up a vinyl for £8, especially as a label starting out, it’s not money grabbing on Infernal Sounds part ‘due to the fact that our break even was fairly high. We obviously would love to charge less and a more reasonable £6/7 but the fact we strive to pay the artist for the music they’ve provided and the fact we wouldn’t mind making the label self sustainable in the future, this is the price we have to go by’
The one big drawback of Bandcamp is the freedom for small bands and labels have to exploit the services charitable ethics and start charging good money for albums no-one’s going to pay for. Much like racists and Coldplay, these people ruin everything. As a small artist, it shouldn’t be about the money, sure if you’re selling vinyl or something that’s actually going to cost you some money to produce charge something for it, maybe turn a little profit off of your work, but If you’re a fucking nowheresville kvltist black metal band (philosophical issues with being trve kvlt and charging good money for your music aside) don’t charge £7 for the digital version of your album cos no-one’ll buy it.
Nino Black, an aspiring rapper based in Southampton has this to say on the name your price system; ‘I’m in a position where I’m still trying to spread awareness of myself, but I like the name your price system, it gives fans the chance to pay to support an artist if they want. I think Bandcamp is a fairer deal because they allow you to set your own margins, granted there’s still the tax to pay but it lets you profit off your own work’ his crew MART¥RS debut release 0238 scumbags is available entirely for free just below.
Fuck the corporate music industry, all they want is your money, if you’re an up and coming musician don’t fuck around paying for gigs or trying to arse kiss the big people, if you’ve got real passion and drive it won’t matter, the last few years have been amazing for self made, small artists making it big and succesful, often from utilizing an increasing array of digital tools at their disposal. If you’re an up and coming artist or label money shouldn’t come into the equation for you and if you let it, you’ll become one of those despicable, money grabbing bastards before you’ve even made it big. Be true to your roots and don’t exploit services like Bandcamp for your personal gain, use them to be the best you can.