As much as I like Spotify for the convenience of basically having my record collection pre-loaded electronically without the storage issues, my favourite repository is Bandcamp, which is much more of an online record shop with in-built streaming. Try before you buy sort of stuff.
Some interesting reading came up when Samuel Orton, an artist I confess I’d never listened to previously, broke down his earnings from the various streaming sites on Metal Injection. Bent Stamnes gives an even more interesting picture, coming from a niche market. It would be interesting to find out if others have a similar experience to theirs.
He’s not the only one but of the ‘normal’ artists, i.e. those without the commercial pull to negotiate their own terms, and a number of articles substantiate the royalty rates and this infographic from Information is Beautiful is probably more meaningful in that it underlines just how much of each sale is required to put food on the plate.
So, Bandcamp is my favourite toy when it comes to streaming. If they had a similar player to Spotify, that’s what I would prefer to use. They don’t, for now; we live in hope.
There’s some etiquette which needs to be addressed. Orton mentions that “619 people downloaded them for free, and 160 decided to pay” via Bandcamp. It’s one of the platform’s weaknesses: what is the right amount to pay? My logic is I pay the same as if I were buying the CD.
As a microcosm, 75% taking the music and running is a staggering percentage. Not that many people run from their local Indian or Chinese restaurant. OK, so Bandcamp won’t run after you with a meat cleaver but the morality is, to me at least, the same.
To put it into context. Instead of having four months of US basic income per Information is Beautiful, Orton ended up cracking just about one instead. Is that right? Surely not.
The only is the postage costs. It’s worth remembering that this is a global site and getting hold of a copy of the CD or vinyl can easily be triple the cost of the shiny new thing itself. A sobering thought when your $20 lp comes in at the less of a bargain total of $42 including shipping to the UK.
Nonetheless, I’d rather support an artist via a medium which channels more to their pockets than other disreputable outlets.
So, to the new series ‘Bandcamp A2Z’ which is today brought to you by the letter: B
(links to Bandcamp microsites in band names below)
Quite possibly the finest band to emerge from Canada. Yes, Rush that includes you.
Lyrical dexterity settles comfortably on a sofa of quirky melodies. With their own Bandcamp tags of (deep breath) folk, apocalyptic indie folk, doom gospel, folk rock, Hawaiian neo-swing, hurdy-gurdy, indie folk, post-apocalyptic folk, and, rembetika, don’t try pigeon-holing ‘Revival Beach’ their recently-released album.
If you come away learning something new from a release, as well as enjoying it. I hadn’t heard of ‘Daloy Polizei’ which proved to a pleasant surprise albeit about an unpleasant subject from my brief reading.
This is my favourite track from the soon-to-be-purchased album:
And because I am partial to their back catalogue, here are two others to enjoy:
One of the beauties of Bandcamp is the longevity of the material hosted on the site. I’m guessing artists have the prerogative of removing releases as they see fit. There was, I seem to recall a version of The Who’s 1976 concert in Swansea on the site previously but I can’t find it for the life of me.
Buddy Holliday is a band I came across during an idle moment or ten of playing ‘click the tag’ – yes, it’s an original name for a game – which I’ll no doubt expand on later. I love the 80s indie feel of the guitars with the echoes of Armoury Show-era John McGeoch. The Armoury Show; now there’s post in the waiting room, I think.
And they are so typically Bandcamp as well. An Australian label with a limited edition release on a Slovakian label.
Yup, it was my “bloody hell, are they still going” moment. “I wonder what they sound like now?” Northern soul; indie soul; all wrapped in an electronic package. Bloody marvellous.
And I’ve just noticed that the 10″ version is back in stock so this proving to be a promising trawl through the letter ‘B’…
Anyway, a new album is on its way – Funambulist We Love You – and sadly at the moment, I can’t stream that so it will remain a surprise. This is how I (sort of) remembered Band of Holy Joy from the 80s. Imagine giving The Pogues synthesizers…
As well as artist pages, there are label pages. This is apparently from 1979 but released in August 2017 on Athens of the North, based in Edinburgh, curiously enough.
The number of soul labels is staggering and their devotion to the 7″ format is reassuring enough to hope that the vinyl revival isn’t just the record labels cashing in on nostalgia. As if they would do that.
I mentioned longevity earlier. This release from 2010 from a Bristol band who it seems are no longer collectively active.
Their page contains a few free downloads and this is another thriving branch on Bandcamp: DJs and remixers, with a plethora of interesting interpretations of others songs, the famous and the previously undiscovered are treated with equal intent.