Bandcamp, the online music marketplace for indie artists and labels, posted double digit growth across all parts of its business last year and paid out about US$70 million to musicians, the company reports.
All-time royalty payments reached US$270 million in 2017 as sales surged for digital, merch and even CDs and cassettes. Digital album sales grew by 16%, tracks were up 33%, and merch 36%, while vinyl (54%), CDs (18%), and cassettes (41%) all saw gains.
The U.S.-based platform, founded in 2008, boasts what it describes as a transparent, artist-friendly model where it takes a 15 percent cut on digital items and 10 percent on physical goods. By the end of 2017, revenue from its 3,500 independent labels exploded by 73 percent and the company claims more than 600,000 artists have now sold something through its site.
During the reporting period, Bandcamp rolled out its app for artists and labels, added gift cards, held fundraisers for the ACLU and TLC and it’ll “soon mark six straight years as a profitable company that only makes money when artists make a lot more money,” according to its “2017 Year in Review” blog post.
The company took a swing at the dominant music streaming companies
Bandcamp says streaming competitors are creating an imbalance which has “troubling implications.”
The streaming giants, which include Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon, exert “tremendous influence over what music gets heard, and must primarily serve their most important supplier, the major labels. The result is that independent labels, and especially independent artists, are far less likely to be discovered on those platforms,” the company warns.
Backing that up, Bandcamp cited research conducted by data trackers at BuzzAngle Music which found more than 99 percent of audio streaming is of the top 10 percent most-streamed tracks.
“Meanwhile, standalone music streaming companies continued to lose money in 2017, and industry-wide record sales continued to decline: in the U.S., digital album sales dropped 20%, tracks were down 23%, and physical sales fell 20%,” the post continues. “The seemingly inevitable upshot of these two trends is that the majority of music consumption will eventually take place within the subscription rental services of two or three enormous corporations, who can afford to lose money on music because it attracts customers to the parts of their businesses that are profitable.”
The outlook isn’t all bleak
Bandcamp, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this September, doubled down on its commitment to look after its clients. “We want a music platform to exist where the playing field is level, where artists are compensated fairly and transparently, and where fans can both stream and own their music collections,” the message reads.