A week ago, a rumor spread through the industry press that Apple planned to “stop selling music by 2018.” It was bullshit (not least of all because the incredibly secretive company would sooner set the company on fire before revealing their long-term plans).
There is however a kernel of inescapable logic to this. iTunes is selling fewer mp3s every day. Someday the business of selling mp3s will probably not be profitable (enough) for Apple to bother with anymore, and iTunes will wind down, or turn itself into something new. Mp3 sales are slowing as streaming picks up. There’s a sense of doom about this that must have been similar to what CD-Rom publishers felt around 1995 or so.
More at home in our scene: Soundcloud launched a streaming app for the masses that it seems the masses will never use, and Beatport scaled back a huge portion of their online activity and ended a streaming service they never should have had. And a day later they shut down their distribution arm and ended several people’s jobs with it, which I didn’t report because I was fucking sick of writing about Beatport’s slow-motion implosion. Things that have become something like “industry standards” in this chaotic age fall to pieces in the blink of an eye.
Bandcamp – which has been asserting its claim as not just the coolest music seller on the internet, but is becoming increasingly indispensable if you want to follow what’s going on in the scene – responded to the recent rumors/news/predictions/scandals with a post that seems half-humblebrag and half-trolling. Beginning with the title: Bandcamp, Downloads, Streaming, and the Inescapably Bright Future.
In light of a recent report that Apple will soon abandon music downloads (later denied, but undoubtedly containing a certain amount of inevitability), we thought we’d take a moment to update you on the state of Bandcamp’s business and our plans for the future.
The post notes that while mp3 sites are reporting (at least those who do report) across the board declines, Bandcamp grew by 35% last year. Drilling down into the numbers:
- Fans buy about 25,000 records a day, which works out to about one every 4 seconds
- Digital album sales grew 14% in 2015
- Track sales grew 11% in 2015
- Vinyl sales grew 40% in 2015
- Cassette sales grew 49% in 2015
“Most importantly of all,” the post notes with a deserved bit of snark, “Bandcamp has been profitable (in the now-quaint revenues-exceed-expenses sense) since 2012.” (In case you missed it, Spotify lost $200 million in 2015, which they dubbed as quite possibly their “best year ever.”)
“And as long as there are fans who want to own, not rent, their music, that is a service we will continue to provide,” the post concludes, “and that is a model whose benefits we will continue to champion. We have been here since 2008 and we mean to be here in 2028.”
Vive la fucking bandcamp.