Support music artists during the Covid-19 pandemic via ‘Bandcamp’

Posted On 18 Mar 2020 at 2:21 pm

Being a musician can be a hard life! The public perception of music makers can be somewhat skewed by those earning megabucks at the top of the pop/rock pyramid. People reckon it’s an easy life for musicians, swanning around here and there and not holding down a ‘real job’. However, from our experiences, this is far from the truth!

Yes indeed, your Bono’s, Chris Martin’s, Ed Sheeran’s and Adele’s of this world have worked very hard to get to where they are now and are reaping the associated monetary rewards, but a vast majority of music makers are on the breadline! Back in the day, such as 1979 (which saw the most records purchased), recording artists would be able to make some decent dosh from their released output, if their managers and the like didn’t gobble it up first. Then they would add to their ‘winnings’ by going on tour and in most cases earn further cash from merch sales and concert ticket prices.

But the way the general public consume music these days has negated the profits in actual music releases and many use download sites that pay a pittance to the artists, thus forcing the artists to go out on tour and make their money that way. At present the Coronavirus has put a (temporary?) stop to the tours, which will leave many thousands of music makers in a grave financial situation, as they obviously can’t, at present, get out on the road. So how on earth are they going to be able to remain in the business and still be able to live?

One company, who is a big player in the market, is doing their bit to help. The company in question being Bandcamp. I have been using Bandcamp for several years and I much prefer to use it instead of iTunes, Spotify and the like, as I am aware that the people making the music receive a vast amount of my money instead of hardly anything.

Bandcamp was formed in 2008 in the United States and the way it works is that artists and record labels upload music onto Bandcamp and those same artists and labels control how they sell it. They set their own prices for their products, whether it be a download of their music, or physical vinyl, CD or cassette version or even clothing such as t-shirts. There’s even the opportunity of offering their fans the option to pay more for the items, and thus creating more revenue. Fans can also purchase music or gift cards and send it as a gift to family and friends. Quite often, artists post the lyrics of their tunes under the purchases, so those that are interested in learning all the words, can have a singalong.

Uploading music to Bandcamp is free, and the company (Bandcamp) takes a 15% cut of sales made from their website (in addition to payment processing fees), which drops to 10% after an artist’s sales surpass five thousand US dollars.

However, Bandcamp’s CEO & co-founder Ethan Diamond has issued a statement regarding how his company is supporting music artists during the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement is based on the American stance and refers to “Friday, March 20 (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time)”. This is seven hours behind us (see below):

Therefore this could be referring to purchases in the UK from 7am Friday 20th March until 7am Saturday 20th March, so I would make your Bandcamp purchases from 7:01am on Friday 20th March up until 11:59pm on the same day, just to be sure. The statement thus reads:

“The Covid-19 pandemic is in full force, and artists have been hit especially hard as tours and shows are being canceled for the foreseeable future. With such a major revenue stream drying up almost entirely, finding ways to continue supporting artists in the coming months is now an urgent priority for anyone who cares about music and the artists who create it. The good news is that we’re already seeing many fans going above and beyond to support artists across Bandcamp”.

“To raise even more awareness around the pandemic’s impact on musicians everywhere, we’re waiving our revenue share on sales this Friday, March 20 (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time), and rallying the Bandcamp community to put much needed money directly into artists’ pockets”.

“For many artists, a single day of boosted sales can mean the difference between being able to pay rent or not. Still, we consider this just a starting point. Musicians will continue to feel the effects of lost touring income for many months to come, so we’re also sharing some ideas below on how fans can support the artists they love and how artists can give fans new, creative ways to provide support”.

“It may sound simple, but the best way to help artists is with your direct financial support, and we hope you’ll join us on Friday and through the coming months as we work to support artists in this challenging time”. Ethan Diamond, Co-Founder & CEO, Bandcamp

If you haven’t visited Bandcamp before, then a good place to start is their ‘Discover’ page, where you can select the music genre that most appeals to your taste and see where that takes you – click Bandcamp Discover to get started.

Alternatively, If I’m checking out a band or artist then they might indicate that they are on Bandcamp and thus you click their link. If you are not sure, then simply Google it. So for instance if I type into Google “Battery Operated Orchestra Bandcamp” it delivers this:

Then I simply click on the link and it takes me to the Battery Operated Orchestra Bandcamp page, here:

I then click on the first item which is their new single ‘The Dissolve’ and I can play the tunes and if I like them then I can click ‘Buy Digital Album’ and it downloads for me. Easy!

Maybe have a look prior to Friday 20th March and line up your choices ready for the day. Good luck and happy hunting!

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