Swansea, UK

I'm a bit of a lurker on these forums - used to be a lot more involved in the "chip community" but then 8bc got weird and I found that music is music is music is music. So these days I still read a lot of what happens here, but don't really write often.

Anyway, here's an email I wrote to Bandcamp, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you guys as well. Opinions and random abuse welcome.

Hey, guys,

First of all, thanks for a great site. I've been using bandcamp now for around 3 years and have done a few releases using your service for download. I'm part of a relatively unsuccessful but generally happy with life electronic act in South Wales (the old one, not the fancy-pants Australian one). We're called Kinetic Monkey.

Anyway, the first reason for my email was just to say thank you. Thank you for providing a website that does what I need when I need it, and nothing more (unlike myspazz). Thank you for creating a space that I can quickly and easily make beautiful (unlike soundcloud). Thanks for taking fees only when I sell stuff and doing it in a way I can understand and that makes sense to me (unlike iTunes). And most of all thanks for doing all of this without filling my page with adverts. You guys can't be breaking even yet - so my full respect to YOUR respect for undiluted artist's space.

Secondly, and this is why I'm at my laptop tonight, I wanted to tell you about a new development (for me anyway) in giving my music away. It might be really useful to other artists, but I know around two dozen artists, and you know a lot more, so I'm leaving the knowledge in your hands. The skinny is that is that I've started GIVING AWAY PHYSICAL CDs. And it's working.

For a while Bex and I have done some free downloads, and some pay for downloads. We play in cafés and venues that hold 50-100 people. Some people listen. Some don't. I'll maybe talk to half a dozen strangers after each show. Two or three of them might buy a CD. A few probably find us online and stream our music. A few less will then download it. Fewer still will pay, but they don't have to and that's okay. This is probably the same story that 90% of independent artists could tell you.

Now I've been giving my music away online for 3 years. But when I print off a CD, that's different. That CD has COST ME money. Now I'm a bit of a raving ecologist, so the CDs that I sell come in recycled card wallets that I print locally, so it doesn't cost me much, but in bulk these CDs do end up costing cash. So I charge people for them. Not much, because often the same EP is available for free online, but just a few quid to cover costs and pay for a beer or two.

Yesterday I played to a really mixed crowd at a really cool all-day event in Swansea. There was an artsy mix of maybe 80 teenage kids, students, professional artists, social workers and bored retirees. You know the kind of crowd. But I really connected with these guys and they really connected to our music. I had a bag full of CDs and I thought to myself that some of these people wouldn't have cash on them for a CD, but I'd love to share my art with them anyway. And I thought that some of them might miss my art in a space that was full of art, but a connection with them might prove to be fruitful in the future. So from the stage we said that we had CDs with us, and that people could give us whatever they thought they were worth, and if people wanted a CD for free, they'd be welcome to take one.

Uno. A lot of people wanted a CD.
Dos. Quite a few of them were happily handing over a tenner for an EP. Now we usually sell our ALBUM for a fiver. So to have people insist on paying £10 for 5 tracks - Whoa.
Tres. There were people that had brought enough cash with them for a drink and for the bus home. Usually I'd never connect with these people. Yesterday I chatted to them and gave them a piece of art that they value.
Cuatro. The quality of conversation that I had after that gig was incredible. People were not only more interested in the music, but they were also more at ease and more appreciative that we'd come to share with them.

Bottom line, we sold more CDs for more money, and where people couldn't pay we gave them something that they now value, but that cost us pennies to make.

Giving my music away online revolutionised the people that I connect with online. Giving my music away in the physical world has now revolutionised the way that I connect with people at my gigs. Maybe people are already doing this all over the world. Maybe I'm a latecomer to the party. But more bands need to do this - it'd be great if you guys could blog about this or communicate this in some way - because if I write about it, 12 people will listen. You can reach more artists.

Thanks, and mucho monkeylove.


Bristol, UK

Nice read, makes a lot of sense smile


wow what a thought i'll have to do this when i play live in the future big_smile

NC in the US of America

Yeah. That's how we do fund-raiser car washes. "Free Car Wash: Donations Accepted"

Chicago IL

so what is bandcamp supposed to do with this information

buffalo, NY

Bandcamp is totally doing better than breaking even. You know how they've paid artists $30 million dollars as of now?  They take 15% of that in most cases.  That's what, 4.5 million?

Melbourne, Australia
danimal cannon wrote:

Bandcamp is totally doing better than breaking even. You know how they've paid artists $30 million dollars as of now?  They take 15% of that in most cases.  That's what, 4.5 million?

Yeah, but there's going to be a fair few costs involved there.
Paying staff salaries, server costs, hosting costs, I assume some kind of building rent, maintenance, tax, etc. I doubt they'd be rolling in money (but they could be if they plastered people's pages with google ads).

Swansea, UK

Sketchman3 - I've never washed a car during a gig before. I don't think that would work for my stage persona.

Saskrotch - I was hoping they'd disseminate the idea of giving physical copies away amongst their userbase.


This is how I approached CD sales as well (when I had them). I offered them to people for free or if they wanted to pay or anything. Basically, if they want the music, they can have it. I more than broke even (covered the cost of printing my own CDs) and was able to pay for few weeks of living.


Nice idea, and cool story. If only I had CDs, and if only I played live.


stickers, cd's, handjobs - give out whatever you ve got. people will like you for it

orange county, CA
Feryl wrote:

Nice idea, and cool story. If only I had CDs


it's cool and everything but i am wondering the same thing as saskrotch..


they might take a cut of sales, but i cant imagine the streaming being exactly cheap with the way they had to get it going over time. bandcamp was lucky to build the way that they did, it started off small, but as it grew, they were able to add bandwidth without it ever experiencing outages or anything like that. tip of the cap to them for that. i would think that took a bit of administrative savvy to do it without having people get tired of the service or deal with a bad experience and write it off. bandcamp just sorta makes sense as a necessity after sites like and/or soundcloud. their customer service of course is also very good for as widespread as it is.


the one problem with bandcamp is that the streaming is so slow, you can't listen to a track unless you let it buffer for a few minutes first. not just on my home internet either.

Swansea, UK

@Jellica - really?! It's always been fine for me. Even at work where I share a slow connection with 20 other people.

@Feryl - Both of those things are in your hands - Burn some CDs. Play some gigs. It's fun. Honest.

@defPREMIUM - Same answer as I gave Saskrotch - I can post on a couple of forums and on my twitter feed, and maybe a few people will read this - Bandcamp could blog about it and thousands of people could discover the joy of giving away something that's cost them moolah.