🔵 This "Bandcamp is over/dying/dead" narrative needs to stop.
Why the persistent negative chatter around Bandcamp isn't helping anyone
A bonus edition of a sort today; I figured since nothing went out on Tuesday, I’d make up with something today. Let’s dive in…
I’ve covered Bandcamp’s acquisition a fair bit in the last couple of weeks, with a good degree of speculation around what is going on.
Something that has become increasingly evident whilst gauging sentiment online is a pervading narrative to the effect of “Bandcamp is doomed”, or “Bandcamp’s best days are now behind it”.
Artists, former staff and general social media commentators all seem to have latched on to this sense that under Songtradr’s new ownership, the platform is somehow destined to fail and disappear.
For that reason, I thought it was about time someone presented an alternative view, based on things I’ve learned in talking to all manner of people closer to this than myself.
First up, let’s clarify some points here:
1. “Bandcamp’s editorial team has been laid off” - FALSE
My understanding is that only 2 members of the 5 person team were let go, and that there is every intention of continuing Bandcamp Daily and all the editorial that existed beforehand.
Could the editorial suffer? I’m sure it’s possible, but it has not been “gutted” (as some reports have claimed) and it is just as plausible that it will continue without people noticing, were they not aware of the layoffs.
2. “Bandcamp is running on a skeleton staff now” - FALSE
Again, my understanding here is that Bandcamp was about 50 people before Covid struck. It grew to something like 128 people after Epic purchased it. If 50% of staff were laid off, it is now back down to something like 64 people. Yes, that will have some impact on things like technical development, given where the redundancies lay, but it also does not mean that the business is crippled or otherwise running on a wildly under-resourced staffing.
3. “Bandcamp is worse off under Songtradr’s ownership” - T.B.D.
I feel there are some awkward truths around Epic’s acquisition of Bandcamp. I’ve heard a few takes on this, and all warrant consideration. One was that a big motivation to acquire the platform was Epic’s fight with Apple re: App Store fees, where Bandcamp’s own app situation lent weight to its argument. Another is that the platform provided a stream of music to Epic’s games and platforms.
Perhaps a likely development over time however is that Epic simply didn’t see how Bandcamp could fit into its world properly. Equally, Epic and Songtradr have agreed a licensing deal as part of the sale, such that Bandcamp users’ music can still be used within Epic’s titles.
If that is the case, one might argue that for Epic it made a lot of sense to sell Bandcamp when it needed to make savings. It could sell the platform, retain the licensing aspect within the deal, and therefore ensure that it is shedding overhead whilst protecting a cost-effective music strategy within its ecosystem.
To be clear, I have no opinion or position on Songtradr. They just aren’t a company that’s popped up on my radar much before now. However, instantly writing this acquisition off as a terminal one for Bandcamp is, I feel, something of an insult to the team remaining at the company.
Simply put: Bandcamp is a terrific platform and a great business. Like all platforms though, it requires its community of users to keep it going.
For that reason, proliferating a “Bandcamp is doomed” narrative does not help anybody. Quite the opposite. I firmly believe that you get the future you dream of, and if everyone keeps saying a platform isn’t worth using anymore because it is dying, it is highly likely that reality come to pass.
So, whatever your views on Songtradr, spare a thought for the team at Bandcamp who are still working just as hard as ever to deliver an amazing experience for it’s community of artists, labels and fans. Irrespective of who owns the platform now, it is something we must continue to support and believe in, otherwise things will indeed get a lot, lot worse, delivering exactly the outcome the naysayers are envisaging. That is something that should be avoided at all costs.
Have a great weekend,
🎶 listening to “Come Down” by Anderson .Paak. The “Malibu” album from which this comes is arguably Paak’s high point to date; a broad range of producers stepping up to deliver a varied, funky, engrossing, soulful, warm listen which I played to death when I got it back in 2016. “Come Down” sits at the funkier end of things on the record, and holds up on its own… but “Malibu” is certainly one of those “full album listen” records to me. Put it on, sit back and enjoy.
🤖 playing with Synplant 2 (again). I’ve mentioned this one before, but the way in which you can feed this synth a sample (e.g. a bass note) and have it recreate that sound into a full, playable synth patch using AI is truly incredible.
Job Alert! 👀
Our friends in the RCA digital team over at Sony Music UK are looking for another Digital Marketing Manager to join their ranks. The ideal candidate will have a track record of creative problem solving and previous experience of working multiple busy digital marketing campaigns within a label, across a broad range of artists. The candidate will primarily work alongside the Marketing and Audience Development Managers, artists, and artist managers, as well as, collaborating with various internal teams at Sony and our key partners.
Stories from the Music Industry:
“I have a reputation for being blunt, so I’ll be blunt. Those peer groups who have expressed a concern about artist-centric are unsurprisingly those whose business model is based on being merchants of garbage. Sorry, I can’t really think of another word for content that no one really actually wants to listen to,” he said. “So if you’re committing fraud or flooding the platforms with content that has absolutely no engagement with fans; doesn’t help churn; doesn’t merchandise great music and professional artists; then I suppose you’re not going to be in favour of artist-centric. So if it’s an opportunity for us to call them out, I suppose that’s where we are.”
👆🏻Hot take: the idea that any critic of the artist-centric model - particularly in the format Universal has agreed with Deezer - is obviously a “merchant of garbage” is myopic and reductive at best. It’s an oddly petulant response from someone of Grainge’s stature.
Universal Music revenues hit $3bn in Q3, driven by sales from superstars like Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift
The headline figure from the world’s largest music rights company’s Q3 results: UMG generated revenues of EUR €2.752 billion (USD $2.995bn) during the quarter across all of its divisions (including recorded music, publishing and more). That Q3 revenue figure was up 9.9% YoY at constant currency. UMG, which trades on the Euronext in Amsterdam, reported today (October 26) that its “Recorded Music, Music Publishing and Merchandising and Other segments all contributed to the revenue growth in the quarter”.
👆🏻Hot take: solid results again from Universal, proving that it remains a solid stock investment.
In a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino Wednesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called on the company to turn on an “all-in” pricing filter that it added this year by default. Klobuchar said it’s “still too difficult” for users to turn on the filter that’s “buried within a tab that gives no indication that it contains” the option in the first place.
👆🏻Hot take: hats off to Sen. Klobuchar for calling out Live Nation on this one. If her assertion is correct, that’s a pretty underhand manoeuvre here.
3 observations on… how Japan’s music industry caters to (and relies on) ‘superfans’ more than any other market
Just last week, Universal Music Group opened a new concept retail store in Tokyo that it says will be “dedicated to supporting music superfans”. Located in the popular Harajuku shopping and entertainment district, the store spans four “curated” floors, and UMG says it will feature dedicated fan experiences, product launches, and retail pop-up shops. It’s also the location of The Rolling Stones’ second permanent flagship shop after London.
👆🏻Hot take: a great look at how (sorry to use the term but…) superfans in Japan are being served by the likes of Universal. All very smart, IMO.
Stories from the Broader World of Tech:
“When I say payments, I actually mean someone’s entire financial life,” Musk said, according to audio of the meeting obtained by The Verge. “If it involves money. It’ll be on our platform. Money or securities or whatever. So, it’s not just like send $20 to my friend. I’m talking about, like, you won’t need a bank account.”
👆🏻Hot take: the idea of entrusting a company under Musk’s ownership with my financial life is so ludicrous it beggars belief. Trust is everything, I’d argue this might be the least trustworthy, stable leader in the entire tech space.
“Threads did us a huge favor because what Threads was able to do was get a lot of users quickly. But then they plateaued.” Bouzy says that helped prove his hypothesis: “You cannot take a bunch of users and throw them together and expect to re-create Twitter. It just does not happen that way.” Instead, organic, slower growth is necessary."
👆🏻Hot take: a fine reminder that stealing Twitter/X’s userbase was never going to be a simple win. I’d argue that it might also suggest that people want more than Just Another Twitter Clone, which is really what Threads, Bluesky et al are right now.
The underlying apparatus that destroyed cable TV and gave us Comcast (Wall Street obsession with short term growth at all costs, mindless consolidation, unfair treatment of labor, outsized compensation for bumbling high level executives) is hard at work trying to ruin streaming. In turn spawning another new round of disruptive innovation from more interesting companies as the cycle starts anew.
👆🏻Hot take: I agree with the general sentiment here that streaming services are getting worse. As the article suggests, it’s a matter of time before better alternatives once again rear their head.
Need something else to read? Here you go:
A guide on anonymizing your phone, so you can use it without it using you
👆🏻Hot take: something of a tinfoil hat type of article, but an engrossing one nonetheless.
Who sings whole songs in the Game of Thrones one? And who dropped a bombshell on the Bridgerton bunch? TV talent tell all about their WhatsApp groups
👆🏻Hot take: I have a weak spot for this kind of showbiz tittle tattle, sorry, hahaha
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