The coolest site for selling music and merchandise just got even cooler.
To be absolutely clear: this isn’t a program for artists to subscribe to Bandcamp – it’s for fans to subscribe to artists on Bandcamp, paying a monthly fee (set by the artist or label or what have you) for access to some or all of their published content.
In other words, if you’re a bigshot with a following of literally dozens of fanatical kids with discretionary incomes, you can charge, say, $10 a month for copies of all the records you’ll release. You can keep it exclusive or not. And it goes on until they cancel, until you quit the music business to get a job at the post office or until one of you has had enough of the other.
Like other products on the service, Bandcamp takes a fairly minimal cut of the proceeds when compared to retailers – 15% off the top and a transaction fee of 2.9% and $0.30 for the bankers.
Subscription services like this have been catching on in a big way – witness the rise of Patreon, a kind of permanent crowdfunding platform in which fans donate a set amount per month or per project. Patreon has experienced meteoric growth in the last year as creators (in this case, most notably from YouTube) move away from business models dependent upon shaky returns from internet advertising.
There’s also drip.fm – now drip.com – the subscription service created by the same people behind Ghostly International. Bandcamp takes a cut which is probably lower than Drip (15% max compared to a Drip variable rate that tops at 20%). More importantly, however, is that Ghostly has been highly restrictive of who they allow on drip.com, requiring any potential creators who want to use drip.com to “apply.” This is typical of beta releases, but given Ghostly’s background and that it’s been more than three years since their launch, they appear to have no plans to bypass using this secret criteria to determine who has a “high likelihood of succeeding and meeting expectations.”
Bandcamp immediately democratizes the subscription ideal while giving it a focus on music creation that Patreon doesn’t have (and which Drip, which is now open beyond musicians, is losing).
Of course, it’s still easier to make a record than to find an audience for it. When Bandcamp first announced the subscription service for artists, Bobby Owsinski at HypeBot ran down a litany of reasons why an artist running a subscription service might not get a positive response – or even take a pay cut compared to just selling records like he or she already does. This in particular rings true to those who have run similar subscription-based product services before:
Most artists concentrate on their subscribers or the non-subscriber fans, but not both. This leads to fan attrition rather than increasing the fan base.