Since Wednesday, January 6th, a phenomenon known as the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club has swept through Twitter’s metal community. You may have seen the overly wrought hashtag #MetalBandCampGiftClub trending the last few days and wondered “Hey, what’s the deal with #MetalBandCampGiftClub?” Well, I’m gonna tell you right after the jump!
The seed for the idea was planted by Twitter user and metal fan @_jeremiahn (Jeremiah Nelson) who, after a particularly trying day, decided not to wallow in negativity, but to instead promote positivity through giving. He went to his Bandcamp page and went through some friends’ wishlists, bought a few surprise albums for them, and went to bed not thinking anything more about it. The next morning, Jeremiah discovered that his simple action of selflessness had sparked a movement within the online metal community. Nine Circles editor Manny O’War, one of the first recipients of Jeremiah’s gifts, fleshed out the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club idea and was the first to use the trending hashtag.
Since Wednesday, January 6th, Bandcamp has reported that over 250 albums have been given away due to this movement. If you consider that the average price for each album given away is around 5 bucks, that’s $1,250 worth of music purchased in a single week by a relatively small group of people. Obviously, Bandcamp is happy with this development.
But it’s also a huge benefit to artists as well. Couch Slut’s debut album My Life as a Woman, for example, had such a huge sales spike on the first day of the trend that David Hall of Handshake_Inc. (the now defunct label that released the album) was led to ask if something had happened to someone in the band.
Pittsburgh’s own blackened hardcore outfit Slaves BC made enough sales in the first week to print up two new t-shirt designs to sell at their shows.
Seeing the direct effect of your support for a band is a rare and exhilarating thing, and it’s motivating more and more metal (or just music) fans to join in on the fun every day. Since I’ve been participating, I’ve received twice as many albums as I’ve given, and quite a few of those have been from complete strangers that I’ve since gotten to know through social media.
What I’m saying is, it’s an all around positive thing for the metal community. You feel the joy of making someone’s day brighter through giving, the bands get paid for their work, and more often than not you receive a gift in return for your generosity and possibly make a new friend in the process. It’s win-win-win.
So how does it work? If you’re not familiar with Bandcamp, it’s easy to create a fan account. Once you’ve got that set up, start looking up artists or albums that you love but don’t yet own and click the little heart below the album art to add them to your wishlist.
This ensures that anyone who wants to buy you music can do so easily and be confident that what they’re buying you is something you’ll like.
After you have your wishlist set up, it’s time to buy a gift! You can go to any user’s account that you want (here’s mine) and comb through their wishlist. Once you’ve found something you’d like to give, hover your mouse over that album and click the “send as gift” link.
This will open up the album’s page. Most of the time, a dialog box will pop up that already has all of the information you’ll need filled in. If not, simply click the send as gift button on this page to open it up.
As you can see, the fan’s email address is tied to their account, so you don’t need to enter it (which is good, because you probably don’t know it). Be sure to leave a message to at least let them know what you’re doing (I recommend using the #MetalBandCampGiftClub hashtag along with your Twitter handle, if you have one). And voila, Robert’s your mother’s brother! All you have to do now is pay for the album, and Bandcamp will send the user an email letting them know they’ve received a gift. Once they open the gift from that email, the album will be removed from their wishlist and added to their collection for all the world to see.
To learn more about the origin of Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, check out this episode of the As The Story Grows podcast, and the official Metal Bandcamp Gift Club website and Twitter account. Bandcamp themselves also posted a blog about it here.
I’ll be lurking in the comments below if you have any questions or just want some recommendations on who to follow on Bandcamp or who has the best wishlists. Happy gifting (and receiving)!