"Patreon + bandcamp + touring offer pretty much the only viable path to solvency as an independent musician and if even one of those gets seriously f**ked the whole thing crumbles.”
Social media has erupted overnight with the news that artist platform Bandcamp has been acquired by US-based video game company Epic Games, creators of Fortnite.
The shock move has rung alarm bells for hundreds of thousands of independent artists who use the platform to sell their music as a key plank in their business model.
Despite the concern, in a statement on the Bandcamp website, the company assures users that the platform will be not be changing and will, in fact, be improving as a result of the move:
"Bandcamp will keep operating as a standalone marketplace and music community, and I will continue to lead our team. The products and services you depend on aren’t going anywhere, we’ll continue to build Bandcamp around our artists-first revenue model (where artists net an average of 82% of every sale), you’ll still have the same control over how you offer your music, Bandcamp Fridays will continue as planned, and the Daily will keep highlighting the diverse, amazing music on the site. However, behind the scenes we’re working with Epic to expand internationally and push development forward across Bandcamp, from basics like our album pages, mobile apps, merch tools, payment system, and search and discovery features, to newer initiatives like our vinyl pressing and live streaming services."
Epic Games last year acquired Artstation, a website where visual and digital artists can display and sell their creations and Bandcamp is seen as an expansion into music for the company.
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"We share a vision of building the most open, artist-friendly ecosystem in the world, and together we’ll be able to create even more opportunities for artists to be compensated fairly for their work," the statement goes on to say.
Artists are less confident in the move and what it means for them.
New York musician Mel Stone summed up the mood of many artists by saying, "Patreon + bandcamp + touring offer pretty much the only viable path to solvency as an independent musician and if even one of those gets seriously f**ked the whole thing crumbles.”
The Bandcamp Facebook page is also awash with concern as artists vent over the move, as well as the overall commoditisation of music. There are also concerns over Chinese company Tencent's large shareholding in Epic Games and the size and ethos of the multinational conglomerate Bandcamp is now a part of.
While there are not too many supporters of the move, there are some artists reminding fans that Bandcamp is still here and remains an important part of the artist ecosystem.