Rarely are there good opportunities to say “I told you so.” Like, times when it doesn’t make other people want to punch you in the face?
This is one of those times.
For the last three years we’ve been pointing out that Bandcamp’s artist-centered business model represents the closest thing we have right to a fair shot for musicians, labels and basically anyone other than Apple, Google, Amazon and Spotify. And contrary to SoundCloud, Spotify and every streaming service out there that we know of, Bandcamp is actually profitable.
As the music industry continues to cannibalizes sales for streams and hangs its future on A-Ha and Bananarama vinyl re-issues, Bandcamp has some reason to crow as the service reported that “every aspect” of their business was up in 2016:
Digital album sales grew 20%, tracks 23%, and merch 34%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl, which was up 48%, and further boosted by CDs (up 14%) and cassettes (up 58%). Every single one of these numbers represents an acceleration over last year’s growth. Hundreds of thousands of artists joined Bandcamp in 2016, more than 2,000 independent labels came on board (like Dischord, Merge, and Dualtone), and the rate of fan signups tripled. Fans have now paid artists nearly $200 million using Bandcamp, and they buy a record every three seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It’s a fairly impressive briefing when a music industry shop can report that even CD sales were up by double digits.
Bandcamp contrasts this with the industry as a whole, which saw an anemic 3% growth in the US in 2016, a 20% decline in the sales of digital albums and a 14% decline in “physical albums” (which we suspect includes CD sales). The reason: streaming hasn’t made anyone more money. It’s just reallocated money once again, from the pocket of the people making the music to the software and device makers that play it.