Bandcamp Is the Most Important Tool in Music Right Now

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Let’s take a moment to think of the greatest innovations in modern music distribution. What comes to mind for you? iTunes is too restricted (and for plebs), the Zune Marketplace was great but never stood a chance, Amazon MP3 has no social element, Pono is some high-priced {thing} for old Dad Rock fans, Jay-Z’s music thingy was around just long enough to make some LOL-worthy headlines. Basically if your answer is anything other than Bandcamp, you’re doing it wrong.

Around the time this blog came to fruition, a friend asked if I pirate music. I responded, “If a band is small enough to have a Bandcamp page, I support it without question; if a band is big enough to not worry about smaller music distribution methods, then the folks in said band will survive if I pirate the new album.” (I will admit to being a former music pirate, and this site played a pivotal role in my quitting of that nasty act). I could not afford to purchase the great quantity of music that I wanted to, so I needed a quantifiable threshold on which to designate where those funds went. My line of reasoning went something like this: If somebody pirates a new Metallica album, the band does not feel the hit. Now if we swap out the band in question with a Toilet favorite like Veilburner or Sarcoptes, the story changes completely.

One of the many benefits of being on Bandcamp is seeing which albums your friends have recently purchased. Spending time on a certain metal blog or bumming around its Facebook group, one can make more Bandcamp friends in an hour than an entire lifetime spent hanging around the metal section of your local music store! Imagine your excitement when that daily Bandcamp e-mail comes in stating which albums have been purchased in the last day, only by the friends that you’ve chosen to follow. Getting to know everyone’s tastes helps one in deciding which albums to pursue; for instance if I see that Bandcamp user and TovH author Simon Phoenix has made some recent purchases, there’s a good chance they’ll fall under the category of thrash, same with Ron Deuce and hardcore, Dubya and cavernous death metal, the list goes on.

look_friends

This is also a fantastic way of finding out which bands have hopped onto (or been forcibly heaped onto) the hype train (an action that isn’t intrinsically negative, mind you, it just means that it has recently become relatively popular). When Ulcerate listed their upcoming album Shrines of Paralysis on Bandcamp, the magnitude of users who pre-ordered was huge (many of them Toilet dwellers). In November of 2016, after a long period of silence Deathspell Omega stealthily announced an EP; and with a month still to go before its release, their Bandcamp page showed that over 80 users pre-ordered it. Which is a terrific way of building hype: not by the actions of any record label but by the invisible hand of the consumers.

dso(I took a screenshot of this months ago.)

There is a #BandcampGiftClub, in which people trend that phrase as they give a gift of their choice to another BandCamp user. The effects of said gift club are felt among this site’s authors and a huge pool of frequent commenters. I have received a few BandCamp gifts on my birthday and have given multiple gifts as ways of appreciation to different folks as well. This can also serve as a superb tool for spreading the word about a band or album that you REALLY love: I gifted a friend the newest Colosso album just because I was certain he would dig them, knowing that he enjoyed other artists of a similar sub-genre of metal. It didn’t cost the full price of a physical CD, so I did not break the bank in doing so. A band that I love received a little more support, because I felt so confident in their heavy metal skillz.

(There you go Colosso, some free ad space.)

You also have the option to force a friend to listen to a band of a particular genre for which he is not very fond, by giving it as a gift! Joe Thrashnkill may not dig flashy technical death metal, so it would be a spectacular idea for me to gift him Paroxysm by Deviant Process because then he would surely have to give it a shot. You can guilt your friends into trying certain music that you think is incredible, limited only by the amount of funds you feel like donating to those bands (making it a win-win).

(Same goes for you, Deviant Process.)

This feature-packed tool Bandcamp is supporting the little artists who have the drive to support themselves, but without the financial resources to afford a record label contract. A record label that probably wouldn’t know how to manage said band, because they don’t quite have their fingers on the pulse of what’s “cool” in heavy metal at the time. With Bandcamp’s built-in social networking tools, we find out what is trending (and I don’t mean that word in the #hashtag sense) and we know we can trust the people who are interested in those bands. The common practice of having a radio show dictate what’s “new and amazing”, can now be taken out of the picture. With Bandcamp, you can discover — and introduce — newer and smaller bands because of the amount of mutual interest shared by others in this world. For example, when I find a new Lacertilian-ready band, I tell him right away.

There are some people in this world who don’t know about Bandcamp. Not many of my friends know what it is, and even fewer use it. In fact, I’m not even sure if one of my friends has a profile on there. So what I do is buy each of those friends the occasional gift, in hopes that he or she will sign on and create a profile, in order to receive the gift. Do the same thing to your friends, yes even the ones who aren’t into heavy metal. If we can help this music distribution method reach as many users as possible, we then give the smaller musical acts of the world a larger audience. This large social network of Bandcamp users makes one giant meritocracy: only showing you the albums that are enjoyed by people that you trust.

“Booyakasha! You made something awesome happen” is the announcement that Bandcamp sends you (via e-mail) when another user purchases an album because he/she saw it on your collection. The company wants to pat you on the back so that you know you inspired another listener to buy something. What a great feeling it is to know that you have changed the life of another music fan, even just a little bit. If you don’t have a Bandcamp profile yet, make one immediately. If you already have a profile, convince a few friends to “get with the program.” Bandcamp is the most important music distribution method to come around since Napster, and its user base is growing larger every day. Help me spread the word!


Here’s my page: jimmymcnulty’s collection. Many other folks on this blog have one too, you can find many of them by clicking the link titled “Following”, or by simply asking in the comments section. 

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