At Jazz Connector on 11th February 2021, members of Ireland’s jazz and improvised music scene gathered together for a professional development session on:
Digital Distribution with Bandcamp’s Aly Gillani
Aly is the European Label Rep for Bandcamp, a thriving, global music community where fans discover new artists, intimately connect with them, and directly compensate them for their work. Aly’s role involves expanding and managing the growing network of labels and artists using Bandcamp to connect with their fans. Aly is also the founder / A&R of First Word Records. Originally a club promoter, he ran the seminal clubnights Funky Mule and New Bohemia in his adopted city of Leeds for many years.
Bandcamp should be familiar to most independent artists, especially after their recent ‘Bandcamp Fridays’ campaign, where 100% of the money fans spend on the site during the first Friday of every month goes directly to the artists. The company believes that artists—no matter the size of their audience—must be compensated fairly and transparently for their work.
You can watch Aly’s webinar here:
Read Bandcamp’s Guide for Artists for further information.
- 82% of money goes directly to artists
- On Bandcamp Friday this is 93% (there are still some fees to Stripe/Paypal etc.)
- Over half of sales by revenue are physical
- This is mostly vinyl, some CDs, cassettes and other merch.
- In some situations, Bandcamp can assist with creating Vinyl through their Bandcamp Vinyl Pressing service. With a strong record, a campaign can be created based on pledges from fans (a minimum of 250), towards pressing the record. Full details are here. This service is based on an application and a campaign with a very good chance of succeeding, so may not be possible for all artists.
- Over 50000 items are purchased on Bandcamp per day
- Bandcamp’s community and discovery tools bring 1/3 of sales - i.e. on average for every 2 people you can bring to your page to buy something, Bandcamp will bring 1 more.
- Bandcamp regularly supports charitable causes, i.e. Juneteenth fundraiser.
- Bandcamp operates on minimum pricing, and all pricing is up to you
- 40% of the time fans pay more than the minimum. Bandcamp fans have a strong sense of being part of a community and are inclined to be more generous.
Using Bandcamp Friday
- Bandcamp Fridays are continuing for at least the next few months - March 5h, April 2nd, May 7th
- You can use isitbandcampfriday.com to check.
- Lots of people put things out on Bandcamp Friday - it can be a good idea to put things out a day or two beforehand to not get lost in the flood.
- Fans who have bought things from you will receive notifications whens something new goes out
- Many people put things in their cart all week and check out on Bandcamp Friday.
- Small/free releases on Bandcamp Friday could be a strategy to gain more followers for your next big release, e.g. old material from the vaults that isn’t yet on your Bandcamp. You can have a 0 as your minimum price on a release.
Designing your page
- Bandcamp fans want to know they’re buying directly from the artist, so reinforcing that message is very useful.
- Bandcamp artist pages are very customisable so you can make your page very distinctive
- On average it takes 7 times for a message to get across, so having the same strong message across social media, website, Bandcamp etc. can help to make it stick in fans’ minds. Check out our recent session with Jazzfuel’s Matt Fripp for more on this.
- Your followers on Bandcamp get a notification when you release something new, so you want to have as many followers as possible before a big release.
- Bandcamp for artists app
- Gives you data on your followers, sales etc.
- Lets you directly message your followers - this can be filtered by location or amount spent etc.
- While social media platforms can collapse, directing fans to a platform that gives you direct communication with them is more future-proof (this is also true of directing people to your website, mailing list, as mentioned here)
- Direct messages are emailed to your followers and appear in the community tab on your page so that people can comment.
- Followers on Bandcamp want to pay for music - focus your messaging on things they can buy.
- Starting a conversation in the community tab can be good for connection, e.g. something as simple as ‘This is what I’m buying for Bandcamp Friday, what are you getting?’
- Recommendations footer - you can include 3 recommendations, with a possibility to swap recommendations with other artists, maybe in the same scene
- Gifting tracks/downloads to a mailing list, social media etc. will spread your music through their connections and recommendations
- Bandcamp Pro accounts can upload videos with each track. Artists on a label will automatically get a free Pro account. Otherwise most things are available on the standard free account, but Pro may be worth it if you are releasing a lot of music.
- Fan account/app
- You can also connect with followers on your own fan account
- Bandcamp will email recommendations based on what other similar fans have bought, so if you have a lot of followers on your fan account, you can buy your own release and it will appear in their recommendations!
Releasing your Music on Bandcamp/using the features
- Ensure that one track of your release is available for streaming so that it can be featured
- A longer-time between pre-order and release gives more time for it to appear
- A physical product of some kind can do very well, especially if they are fun or personal, with strong imagery uploaded.
E.g. merch example from Max Blansjaar
- Discovery on Bandcamp is not algorithmic, it’s based on people buying things, or on staff writing about things
- Ensure your music is correctly tagged so that it can appear to people by genre. If you are part of a scene is covering a particular sub-genre, try and make sure you’re using the same name for it.
- Fans can follow Genre hubs to be notified of ‘new and notable’ releases, receive Bandcamp recommendations.
- Bandcamp Daily editorial (has 5 editors and approx 100 freelance writers)
- Articles need to have music alongside, something needs to be streaming or it can’t be featured (this can still be private when pitching about the release)
- A full feature with interview etc. needs to be pitched at least 9 weeks before release.
- Full features need an interesting story, e.g. linked to an interesting emerging scene, interesting person that you collaborated with, theme with a personal story, interesting angle.
- A smaller feature, e.g. album of the day, ‘new and notable’ needs to be pitched at least 3-5 weeks in advance of release.
- Tips for pitching
- Include a link to the music
- Editor contact details are available here, or in bylines of articles.
- Include 1 quick introductory paragraph, 1 paragraph max on release
- A hook is useful, ‘I saw you featured this, I worked with that person’ ‘My music is similar to this feature you did’.
- Bandcamp editors receive around 2000 pitches a week which have to be whittled down to 4 stories a day.
- You can also tag Bandcamp on Instagram and they sometimes repost good imagery.
- Bandcamp now acts as platform for ticketed livestreams\
- You need to apply for use of this feature, and there may be some delay so allow plenty of time before scheduling a stream.
- Minimum price is $1, most tickets are either $5 or $10
- Small-scale personalised concerts can do quite well, with features like talking to people in chat boxes, taking requests. An intimate session like a casual jam session can be worth more to fans
- You can create a virtual merch table which appears during the concert, and in some cases spend on merch is as much as 50% of ticket sales.
- Normally Bandcamp fees on tickets are 10%, but these are waived until the end of March.
Please note Jazz Connector’s guest speakers are expressing their own personal opinions, and not speaking on behalf of their organisations or employers.