Friday, October 13, 2023

Bandcamp Friday... the Thirteenth

Well, this doesn't bode well. Two weeks ago, Epic Games, which had purchased the online audio distribution platform Bandcamp back in early 2022, surprised Bandcamp's employees by announcing that over 800 of them would be laid off and the platform was being sold to Songtradr, a music licensing marketplace.

Needless to say, this did not sit well with the Bandcamp staff, whose union has launched a petition for recognition by and negotiations with Songtradr's CEO. The artists and fans who've come to love Bandcamp over the years are also uncertain about their future with the platform, however. And yes, I'm among them.

Bandcamp gives its artists an average of over 80% of their music and merch sales, making Scrooges of Spotify and the other music platforms. On Bandcamp Fridays, that average goes up to over 90%. Between the platform's artist-friendly generosity and its fan community, it has long been a favorite of musicians. Epic didn't make any changes to the formula, but Songtradr has said that "[b]ased on its current financials, Bandcamp requires some adjustments to ensure a sustainable and healthy company that can serve its community of artists and fans long into the future."

So, yes, even though today isn't actually a Bandcamp Friday, it feels like it's Bandcamp Friday the 13th. It remains to be seen what those 'adjustments' will be, but independent artists can scarcely afford to lose as good a friend as Bandcamp has been to us. Here's hoping Songtradr doesn't break its new toy.

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