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Bandcamp screenshot.png
Fans will "discover new music & directly support the artists who make it" Site
Type Online Music Store
Launch Date September 2008
Status Active
Product Line product
Platform cross-platform

Bandcamp is an online music store launched in 2007 by founder and CEO Ethan Diamond along with Shawn Grunberger, Joe Holt, and Neal Tucker. The Bandcamp platform allows independent artists to sell or freely distribute their work directly to their fans. Bandcamp's business model is unique because it offers a freemium like revenue model. Using and posting music to the site is free, but if an artists work sells, Bandcamp receives are share of that sale. The site offers a convenient means for artists to sell their music quickly and free of record label intervention. The site is mainly catered to independent artists, but acts as a microsite where all artists can create and share music. When an artist creates an account they receive a micro-site on a subdomain of where they can upload their music and personalize their page. As of 2012 there are 646,978 albums uploaded to the site[1]. Notable Bandcamp moments include when cellist-composer Zoe Keating made #7 on the Billboard classical chart solely from Bandcamp sales[2] and when popular game soundtracks from Bastion, Terraria, and others were uploaded.


Founder of Bandcamp Ethan Diamond said that Bandcamp was "born out of a personal frustration that [he] experienced as a fan."[3] Diamond recounts that in 2007 he struggled to buy an album of one of his beloved bands due to the band's faulty independent website. This resulted in the digital album being sent to him in a .zip file through an open download link. The file contained no artwork and no song titles; Diamond noted that "every single technical thing that could have gone wrong, did."[3] Diamond's vision of Bandcamp was to solve this problem for artists everywhere. The site provides all the tools necessary for artists to distribute their own music, but the content is controlled only by the artists. This includes pricing, quantity, type of product, identity, etc.[3]

Through it's existence, Bandcamp has gained more and more exposure through it's use by popular artists. In 2010, Amanda Palmer sold 15,000 dollars worth of music within three minutes without the help of a label or a promoter, using only Twitter to spread the word of her new release [4]. That week Bandcamp saw incredibly large wave of new users hosting their music on the site.

Bandcamp has proven to be widely successful in the midst of the filesharing age. In December of 2011, Bandcamp revealed that Bandcamp artists earned over $1 million in sales. Total earnings from Bandcamp artists totaled to $12.6 million by the end of 2011. When artists choose the "pick what you pay" model, fans have chosen to pay more than the asking price 40% of the time.


Multi-format Downloads

Bandcamp allows artist to upload their music in lossless formats, providing the option of multiple lossy formats (e.g. MP3, AAC) to the downloader. The effect of providing a myriad of formats for download is that people with varying preferences will have the opportunity to make a purchase.

Flexible Pricing

One of the defining features of the Bandcamp service is the "name-your-price" downloads, which allows listeners to download the music at a price set by the artist or uploader. Artists can choose a fixed price or allow listeners to choose their own price. Additionally downloads can be priced for free, however artists are limited to a certain amount of free downloads a month[5]. Bandcamp takes 15% of the sales made by artists, which decreases to 10% once the artist has made more than $5000.

Bandcamp provides a detailed graph and list of streaming and downloading statistics.

Creative Commons

Bandcamp allows each artist to choose whichever licensing options suit their preferences best, and these include Creative Commons licenses. In 2009 they increased the number of licensing options to the amount available today.

Real-time Statistics

Bandcamps allows artists to view detailed statistics about the streaming and downloading of their music. Not only can artists view the amounts of plays per time period, they can also view where their music is being linked from and which search engine terms bring them the most traffic. Bandcamp provides a detailed graph of all of the user's play counts from the date the music was posted to the current time. [6]

Ethical Aspects

"Available Bandcamp licenses"
Available licensing options presented by Bandcamp when uploading music

Artist Independence and Creative Commons

Bandcamp assists artists in getting exposure that they would have otherwise had to obtain by creating their own pages or hosting somewhere else. Creating a streamlined service by which someone can buy and sell media, as well as listen to it, assists in making those things more accessible. While Bandcamp is not the only company that offers these types of services, Bandcamp and its peers are contributing to a music consumption culture free of filtering.

Bandcamp takes a unique stand that allows for ethical power to fall into the hands of the artist themselves. When an artists uploads their content to the site, they have the ability to select what level of licensing they so choose. Some artists prefer that their music reaches a wide net and will opt in for putting their content up under different tiers of Creative Commons licenses. By doing so, they are allowing other content creators, like YouTubers, to use their music in an effort to reach a wider audience with their work. The people using the artists music will face no legal or ethical implications from doing so. Artists who wish not to freely share their content like this also will have the option to opt in for 'All Rights Reserved' licensing. This will protect their music and intellectual property.

Bandcamp claims to be on the side of the independent artist. Other platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, or Tidal all require a third party distributor to get your music uploaded to those digital platforms. Once the artist has their music on iTunes, for example, and sells a song both iTunes and the third party distributer are taking a cut. TuneCore is an example of a third party distributor for independent artists and they collect a yearly fee from the artists to distribute their content to the digital music stores. Bandcamp does not require a third party distributor to be involved. The artist uploads directly to the platform to be able to offer their music to listeners from anywhere. This is an example of positive ethics practiced by Bandcamp to help independent artists.

Bandcamp and Piracy

In the Bandcamp WordPress blog, Bandcamp revealed some interesting statistics and results between piracy and purchases from their site. Search queries from Google including "lelia broussard torrent", "murder by death, skeletons in the closet, mediafire", and "maimouna youssef the blooming hulkshare" resulted in purchases of $10, $17, and $15, respectively.[7] Bandcamp believes that they can compete with filesharing services because Bandcamp provides a transparent and easy way to support their artist of choice directly and it provides a better experience for the customer.

This being said, pirating music from Bandcamp does still happen. According to Reddit users, it is possible for someone to write their own code to download music directly from the site for free or through cache to accomplish this task. [8] While the quality may not be pristine, some users feel "where there's a will, there's a way".

Notable artists and labels

Bandcamp became popular when artists such as Amanda Palmer, Low Places and Bedhead gave up their record labels in order to start selling albums on Bandcamp. These artists mainly used Twitter for promotion.

Bandcamp saw an even larger spike in popularity when popular video game soundtracks were uploaded to the site. Game creators of games such as: Plants Vs. Zombies, Aquaria, To the Moon, Fez and Minecraft soundtracks were posted on Bandcamp.

See Also


  1. Bandcamp, 2008. Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.
  2. @Bandcamp "Zoe Keating's latest debuts at #7 on Billboard classical chart, 100% from Bandcamp-powered sales. No iTunes, no label." Twitter. 1 July, 2010, 2:08PM.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Absolute Punk. Interview with Ethan Diamond.
  4. Billboard. Amanda Palmer Chart History, 2019, Accessed 23 Apr. 2019.
  5. Bandcamp. Bandcamp Help Center, 2019, Accessed 23 Apr. 2019.
  6. Bandcamp. Bandcamp for Artisits, 2019, Accessed 23 Apr. 2019.
  7. Bandcamp Daily. "Cheaper than Free". Bandcamp 23 Apr. 2019.
  8. u/HookPhD. "Bandcamp Stream Downloader?" Reddit.