Right, time to make good on the promise to introduce our dear readers to some of the latest ground breaking web services out there to help you all discover new art and even better, be discovered yourself. In today’s installment we are going to take a look at Bandcamp a slick new way for musicians to get distributed and found on the web while retaining control of how much or how little you want to charge/give away. Oh yeah, it’s free.
There is probably little in the way I can do to improve BandCamp’s own video introduction explaining the basics, so here it is. Have a look and I’ll see you on the other side.
And so to summarise:
Bandcamp is flexible. Once you’ve uploaded your album you can decide what you want to charge for and what to give away free. The free option can be tied to the user supplying you with an email address, allowing you to add it to your mailing list so you can let them know when you’re touring, news on new releases etc.
Downloads can be offered in a range of formats including mp3, Ogg, Apple Lossless, FLAC amongst others. You can choose to offer lower quality formats for free while charging a small fee for high quality tracks, it’s up to you. What’s more Bandcamp will take care of the encoding for you, you only need to supply the raw files. In addition Bandcamp will make sure the files are all tagged with the correct metadata so when imported into a media player or onto a music device it will look all flash with album art and such.
Bandcamp offers a variety of tools for artists to analyse which tracks are being listened to, where people are coming from to check your band out and even where your band is being talked about on the web. They allow easy embedding into websites so you can continue to use your existing site/blog/myspace and you can point your personal domain to your Bandcamp profile.
All this comes in a very slick and easy to use package.
Personally, my favourite feature is the one that allows you to generate download codes. These codes allow those that possess them to download specific tracks or albums for free. You could give them away with tickets and t-shirts, offer them to those on your mailing list or place them in balloons and release them onto the gentle breeze allowing them drift into the lives of potential new fans. A brilliant way to offer dedicated fans added value when they come and support you and great example of being able to be flexible when you own your own releases.
In all, Bandcamp is a flexible, professional and extremely user friendly way to distribute music at virtually no cost.
On the downside, you do have to have a PayPal account to purchase any music. Although this makes it easier for the artist to receive money without the considerable hassle of a full blown e-commerce system, it may restrict impulse buys from people who for whatever reason don’t have PayPal and will need to sign up. Once you have an account though it really is easy to get the music you want.
Also, the ability to search for artists through the site is restricted. They are either listed in alphabetical order or descending order, recently released at the top. I think that offering some sort of tagging system would be useful to at least get a gauge on the type of music to expect. There are few ‘big name’ artists registered but this is hardly surprising, this site is part of the new paradigm the big labels are yet to embrace. Del Tha Funky Homosapien of Gorillaz is down though (and giving stuff away).
Be that as it may, I think Bandcamp is a revolutionary new way to release and distribute music. I’ve used variations on the phrase ‘you can’ all over this article for good reason. Bandcamp allows musicians to be in total control of their releases and if used in conjunction with other web tools such as a blog/twitter/facebook/myspace and of course Loud Thought, it greatly increases the chances of winning new fans and having your music heard. After all, that’s why you do what you do, right?