Bandcamp sold by Epic Games to Songtradr… and I’m pessimistic

Epic Games, who bought Bandcamp only 18 months ago has sold it off to Songtradr. Epic, who announced a mass 16% layoff and restructure amid “spending more than it brings in”, has decided that Bandcamp isn’t for them. During the time they owned the platform, minimal change took place and whilst that was largely a good thing, it now feels like that they didn’t really understand what to do with the platform.

As a champion of creating a sustainable ecosystem for musicians, artists and creatives alike, this latest move is yet another concerning one. Songtradr deals with licensing and distribution for both artists and licensees, charging monthly fees for that service. Bandcamp, allows artists to get their music to an audience by removing that almost subscription-based model by then taking a fee of what is sold. It is incredibly crucial to allow the music industry to grow new seeds that we advocate for a grassroots entry point somewhere. I see the join-ups here for Songtradr. I can see a future where suddenly artists and labels need to pay a monthly fee to place their music on Bandcamp, and that does nothing to stimulate growth and art in a creative industry. Add in the possibility that users will end up paying a subscription to get streaming access to the music on the platform and possibly forcing artists in their licensing deals to publish to Bandcamp and you have a really interesting mix of tactics Songtradr could use. Now it is in the hands of shareholders and big corps, I can’t see artists and users being put first anymore. We’ve been bitten too many times before.

For me, this is yet another leap into the unknown. I love everything that Bandcamp previously stood for. I had committed to launching my upcoming music label Higher Plain Music on Bandcamp as a simple, easy way to get started. I am now less likely to do that until I hear what Songtradr’s plans are. I am not buoyed by their initial comments. According to a Pitchfork article, they “will continue to operate Bandcamp as a marketplace and music community with an artist-first revenue share.” So that means they’ll commit to taking no more than 49% of revenue then. More concerning was another comment from the same article. “Asked whether artist revenue shares, user experience, or the editorial platform Bandcamp Daily will be affected by the acquisition, Songtradr declined to comment. “

I’m starting to realise if I want to have a fairer economy for artists, I may have to create it myself. I think I’m angry enough to get the ball rolling.

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