Famous as one of the music industry’s most democratic platforms, Bandcamp has been bought by a tech giant

One of the Internet’s most democratic—and, while this isn’t saying much—well-paying streaming service is now under the umbrella of one of the biggest tech enterprises in the world. Epic Games has purchased Bandcamp for an amount of money that has yet to be disclosed.

Bandcamp has long been known as the places where those looking for next week’s, month’s, and year’s next big things go to discover new bands, fledgling solo artists, and newbie EDM artists. It’s the place where anyone can post their singles, EPs, and albums, and then feel no shame about the fact that no one other than three kids in Poland and a blog based in Lawrence, Kansas are the only ones that seem to care. After all, Bandcamp is about supporting and offering exposure to new and largely undiscovered acts, and then helping them get to the next level, as opposed to adding another $100,000 Spotify or Apple Music royalties to the bank accounts of Kanye West, Rihanna, and Ed Sheeran.

The service is also about paying the artists that use it more fairly than the monster streaming services. Bandcamp takes 10 percent of the revenue on physical items and between 10 to 15 percent on digital purchases. The site is free and artists are allowed to set their own prices for whatever they have on offer, from digital albums or singles to T-shirts, coffee cups, and official-merch flavoured condoms. Importantly, those using the site to sell their music, spoken word pieces, or video-game soundtrack-work to the world are paid daily for all sales.

Bandcamp also offers free breakdowns of who’s listening to each artist’s music and where they are listening from, invaluable if you’re an obscure Surrey grindcore band with 3,000 fans in Peru, and waffling on whether or not to add a pan flute player.

As for those using the service as fans, Bandcamp lets music consumers set up their own personal pages, complete with embedded music players, and search for tracks based on everything from genre and format type, to geographical location of the artists. Best Of lists are also searchable for those too lazy to do their own legwork.

Democratic, right? Imagine how rich Gruntruck, the Jesus Lizard, and the Zoobombs would be today if they’d been the ones to benefit from every album, hoodie, poster, and meet-and-greet package they sold over their careers.

All of this has Bandcamp fans a little jittery about Epic Games being the platform’s new overlord.

Epic Games has become a complete tech powerhouse thanks to its widely used Unreal Engine, which is used by every major platform that matters, from Xbox and PlayStation to Oculus headsets. What exactly it knows  are cares about music—especially that of the grassroots variety—is, on the other hand, anyone’s guess.

That’s led Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond to post an assurance that it will be business as usual despite new ownership. And that there will also be new initiatives, including a move towards helping out with things like vinyl pressing.

Here’s his post announcing Epic Games has purchased Bandcamp.

Bandcamp will keep operating as a standalone marketplace and music community, and I will continue to lead our team. The products and services you depend on aren’t going anywhere, we’ll continue to build Bandcamp around our artists-first revenue model (where artists net an average of 82% of every sale), you’ll still have the same control over how you offer your music, Bandcamp Fridays will continue as planned, and the Daily will keep highlighting the diverse, amazing music on the site. However, behind the scenes we’re working with Epic to expand internationally and push development forward across Bandcamp, from basics like our album pages, mobile apps, merch tools, payment system, and search and discovery features, to newer initiatives like our vinyl pressing and live streaming services.

Since our founding in 2008, we’ve been motivated by the pursuit of our mission, which is to help spread the healing power of music by building a community where artists thrive through the direct support of their fans. That simple idea has worked well, with payments to artists and labels closing in on $1 billion USD. And while over the years we’ve heard from other companies who wanted us to join them, we’ve always felt that doing so would only be exciting if they strongly believed in our mission, were aligned with our values, and not only wanted to see Bandcamp continue, but also wanted to provide the resources to bring a lot more benefit to the artists, labels, and fans who use the site. Epic ticks all those boxes. We share a vision of building the most open, artist-friendly ecosystem in the world, and together we’ll be able to create even more opportunities for artists to be compensated fairly for their work.

Diamond concluded his post by noting that Bandcamp has been there for grassroots artists and DIY labels since it was first founded 14 years ago, and that there’s no reason to think that will change.

That Epic Games has purchased Bandcamp of course is good news for you and your Balkan folk-fixated speed-metal octet, especially since you’ve been looking into getting something pressed on zebra-striped neon-orange and sherbert-green vinyl but have no idea where to turn to for help. And are well aware that the only way you’re going to pay for that is by having a run on your life-size band bobbleheads, calligraphy-style feathered pens, and Victorian-style hot-water-bottle merch.

Or, you know, flutes stamped with your band’s name and logo. Beause, rightly or wrongly, it’s impossible to think “Bandcamp” without thinking…..

Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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