Free Downloads & Power-Ups

Update September 15th, 2010: Please read this.

When we first started working on Bandcamp, we wondered whether it might be possible to always provide an unlimited number of “free” downloads* to artists for, well, free. Our hope was that free downloading might be highest amongst the artists who were also selling the most – for example, a band giving away a track or two in promotion of a paid album. That way, the revenue share on the artist’s sales would naturally cover the costs associated with the streaming, support and storage of their freebies.

What we’ve learned, however, is that most of the music being given away through the site is from a relative minority of bands who have decided not to sell anything at all. It’s obviously unfair to burden every Bandcamp artist with the costs of a few outliers giving away hundreds of thousands of free downloads, so we’re making some changes to button that up.

Starting today, new accounts come with 200 free downloads, and all existing accounts are granted 500. Your free download credits also refresh every month (meaning that if you have less than 200 downloads remaining, we’ll just bump you up to 200 again). Each time a fan downloads a track or album for free, it counts as 1 against your balance (an album, regardless of how many tracks it contains, still only counts as 1 download, and streaming is still unlimited). You can buy more downloads for a small fee from your Tools page. The pricing is the same as for download codes:

300 downloads for $9 USD (3¢ each)
1000 downloads for $20 USD (2¢ each)
5000 downloads for $75 USD (1.5¢ each)

But here’s the cool part: for every $500 USD you have in sales, we’ll give you another 1,000 free downloads (kind of like a power-up, but based on sales rather than say, eating a Super Mushroom**). The idea is that if you’re selling through Bandcamp, you’ll probably never run out of free promo downloads, and if you’re using the site to distribute your music for free, there’s still a cheap and easy way to keep doing that. (Actually, the cheapest way would be to head over to ZRapidShare, but if you’re reading this, you probably care about your fans too much for that.)

You can check your free download balance over on your Tools page, but you don’t need to check it obsessively. If you get low, we’ll notify you via email, as well as display a reminder up at the top of your account. And if your balance drops to zero, free tracks and albums won’t go away, they’ll just automatically switch to paid (at whatever price you last set, or the default if you never set the price). We won’t start decrementing your free download balance for another week (on September 16th), so anyone planning a big free promo has time to make sure their download needs are covered. Again, the above applies to free downloads only – there remain no download limits whatsoever on tracks or albums that you’re selling.

*By “free” downloads we just mean downloads of tracks or albums that you’ve set to free, free but email-required, or let-fan-name-price with no minimum and the fan enters zero. Download code redemptions don’t count, and neither does streaming.

**We’re extending this power-up idea to other parts of the site as well, with sales raising your upload limit and granting you more download codes, for starters. We’ve got plenty more power-ups in store too, all of them useful, fun, and in the spirit of helping to kick-start your success.

110 Comments

  1. Posted September 10, 2010 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Seems to bit of a shame but fair enough I suppose. And the power up system is a good idea

  2. Posted September 10, 2010 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Woa, the upload limit increasing snuck in there at the end. Thank you for that!

  3. Posted September 10, 2010 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Absolutely no problems with this at all. Bandcamp is an excellent service well worthy of being paid for.

  4. Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    While I understand the financial logic and thee need for this, my first and emotional response as a label and user of Bancamp is – boo!

    When the other changes were made (15% etc.) I was all for it. But I was also happy to see that we can still use the BC platform for free if we didn’t want to sell anything. It was brilliant for the fans and artists.

    Not anymore, I see. Well, that’s a BIG dissapointment for me.

    In the last year or so, while recommending BC like crazy to all my friends and artists, I often told them what I like most about you is that you “just did everything RIGHT”.
    But in my book, you’re starting to make some wrong steps.

    I’m not saying “think about the poor artists!”. I’m saying: from a revolutionary service, one that had the power to change to rules of the game (and did!), you are becoming more like an old fashioned record label. You’re still a long way from becoming big bad EMI or something, but the road is still a wrong road, if you ask me. Which sucks.

  5. Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Got any alternate ideas as to how we ought to cover the costs when a free album is downloaded 75,000 times? I suppose we could show every fan an exciting offer for 10 year term life insurance. That would be a start. We could also raise the revenue share rate on artists selling their music. That might get us a little closer. And we could stop answering the fans who write in with support issues. That would probably take us to the finish line, but all this sounds less attractive to us than just charging money for something that costs us money.

  6. Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I guess that sounds fair.. I’m one of those people who offers my music up in the pay what you want model and always loved that Bandcamp allowed me to do that (of offer it completely free). The prices to purchase additional downloads is reasonable enough though.

  7. Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    @Ethan Thanks for answering me!

    I don’t think I have all the answers – I would gladly tell you my ideas if they were better. I’m just stating my immediate feelings and thoughts after reading this post.

    I think that charging money for giving away free downloads makes it harder for struggling musicians to feel they have the same options as an established one (which is the biggest thing Bandcamp did for musicians, IMHO). The field was finally leveled, and everyone got a fair and equal chance. Now they don’t.

    As I said in my first reply – I perfectly understand the financial thought behind this. And yes, the prices for more free downloads are reasonably low, and I guess for most musicians it won’t change things THAT MUCH. But when looking at the bigger picture for musicians, the thought remains.

  8. Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    This is an interesting move. While decently thought-out and well-founded, this presents a few problems for artists like myself.

    My main problem is that I am a cover artist, and when negotiating licensing and/or permission, some artists straight-up require me to make the song a free download. This means I would not be able to use bandcamp for my download (without paying for codes) unless the “fallback” was expanded upon with options to disable downloading. Because, in those cases, I don’t have permission to sell the track, it’s free or bust.

    Of course, this begs the question, when a track automatically switches to pay — or if BC implemented my “download disabled” idea, that — will purchasing (or earning) more downloads make free tracks automatically switch *back* to free again, or are we going to have to go to each track we had set up that way and re-select that option? It would be irritating to have to reconfigure each time.

    Mostly, I think this is going to cause artists to be more stringent on what they offer for free. Which, while it may not necessarily be bad, is probably going to get us to pinch some pennies on what we give away with download codes. Is there any chance you guys can consider smaller denominations on download code assigning? I would very much like to generate a number less than 100 for giveaways. Even multiples of ten would make things a lot easier.

    And, lastly, you might want to let people know that you’re retroactively applying some of the powerups, but one sale will have to be made for the system to recognise that a landmark was hit (unless that’s a bug). That’s very nice of you guys. As a small artist, I really appreciate it.

  9. Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Hey there Inverse,
    We did consider providing an option to auto-switch to download disabled or paid, and your need for it makes complete sense, but we felt it complicated the UI quite a bit for what we suspected was an edge case. That said, we’re watching the feedback as always, and if enough people are in the boat of offering covers they can only distribute for free (but are otherwise fully licensed), we’ll definitely take another look.

  10. Posted September 10, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Now that I’ve had a chance to look at my stats and compare them to both the initial offerings and my powerups, I’m much more ready to accept the download allowances.

    And guyha, I am one of those struggling artists.

  11. christopher
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    you guys are awesome! a lot of great news today! with all the ways you guys let us do custom embeds, track our stats, and offer all kinds of really powerful tools for our use (download codes, discount codes, etc.) paying a couple $$ here and there is such a small, small price to pay! totally worth it!

    i’m also really excited about the improved facebook sharing, and also really excited about the new upload file size!! that’s going to be a really cool one!

    the biggest thing on my wishlist now is a shopping cart system of some sort. that would be beyond amazing.

    thanks again for the everything you do! it’s very appreciated and worth every cent!!

  12. Joe Martinez
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I complete agree with #8. Give us a shopping cart and axe the PayPal dependency.

  13. Joe Martinez
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Ethan,

    Please don’t ever joke about banner ads again. My heart sank a little

  14. Posted September 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    You know, I really liked bandcamp. Then this happened. For a site that was so good to the artists, to bring down this real big hammer is a big hit. Most people who come to bandcamp did it with the idea of giving their music away free. It was a time changing thing, to get away from the label, and to have an artist-fan connection. This just punches that ideal in the face.

    I don’t see getting more downloads as “1.5 cents” per download, I see it as $75 that I don’t have at all. Now the people who download the music, AND the artists are getting hit.

    I realize your bandwidth needs are harsh, but really, you knew that your backer was going to run out eventually, and you didn’t plan ahead. You could have looked at the stats long ago, and seen what was going on while you were not in any financial need.

    Selling $500 worth of music isn’t easy. At all. I personally do a “pay-what-you-want” donation deal, with 0 as the minimum. You act as if the majority are going to spend money, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, the majority of people are people who download for free, and only a small percentage donate.

  15. Posted September 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    > Most people who come to bandcamp did it with the idea of giving their music away free.

    That may be true of you, but take a look at the front page of the site — in the past 30 days alone, independent artists have made hundreds of thousands of dollars through Bandcamp.

    > It was a time changing thing, to get away from the label, and to have an artist-fan connection. This just punches that ideal in the face.

    I’m not sure how charging a fan for an artist’s hard work weakens the artist-fan connection. Regardless, if you choose not to charge, there’s still an easy way for you to do that through Bandcamp. If you prefer not to cover those costs, if you think that distributing your downloads next to ads for hot-singles-in-the-area-looking-for-love-tonight is better for the artist-fan connection, then you have several excellent options.

    > you didn’t plan ahead. You could have looked at the stats long ago, and seen what was going on while you were not in any financial need.

    Not true. As the site gained popularity, usage patterns changed. More artists started using Bandcamp to do large-scale free campaigns, and we acted (as quickly as we were able) to make sure the associated costs were covered. Furthermore, we’ve done so in a way that doesn’t unfairly pass those costs on to the people selling through the site, or giving away a more modest number of downloads.

    Again, if you’ve got a better plan, we’re all ears!

  16. Posted September 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I hope more companies take your lead. Actually, I hope more artists take your lead. If they have costs, charge actual money for their products.

  17. Atrus
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    We’re in the same camp as #8. Our roster changes a lot and we all come from different countries, so we decided from the start to just offer everything online for free to avoid the hassle of having to deal with money and how to redistribute it.
    So far we haven’t had much downloads but, should we ever get noticed, that would mean we would have to pay money in order to avoid receiving money – such a nice paradox!

    I understand that we’re kind of a fringe case, but when we signed up we felt that BC would be a perfect home for noncommercial artists as well as commercial (let’s admit it, “it’s free” was a major selling point with everyone) and now it feels that you guys just don’t really love us any more unless we start charging people.

  18. Posted September 10, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I was initially upset to see this, but then read through the article and am glad you’ve taken this approach. It’s fair, it’s relatively cheap*, and it’s easy (I’m not surprised, Bandcamp is so easy to use!)

    My biggest concern is whether I’ll be able to reach the $500 mark in order to get my 1,000 downloads power-up.

    *Loyalty can’t be bought, but 1.5¢ per download is a reasonable way to build a fanbase via mailing list.

  19. Posted September 11, 2010 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    As someone who gives all my music away for free I find this disappointing. Id much rather someone listen to / download my music for free than have it sit unlistened to for a price. But that’s just me.
    Discovering bandcamp was an exciting time for me, as it made myspace look like the distant and very poor relation. Luckily for me, it’ll take an age before my freebies run out as I get very few downloads! It is a shame though.
    Perhaps I’m very naive, but with the saturation of the music industry, I struggle to see how any relative unknown bands can make any decent money through selling to cover studio costs. Maybe I’m just naive.
    I suppose from the business side of things, this makes sense for bandcamp which is obviously a business and needs to survive profitably, but from the position of someone such as myself, this is a blow.

    FM

  20. Posted September 11, 2010 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Hey Inverse Phrase– read about Compulsory Licensing. They can’t require you to make something free, unless you’re asking them to waive the 9.3 cents-per-track you generally need to pay for a cover. If you pay upfront for, say, 500 track downloads you can just keep an eye on your sales and pay again if sales start to approach that number.

    Not a lawyer, so read the stuff yourself. It takes some very specific letter-sending and monitoring, but it sounds like it might be worth it to you to figure out exactly what protections the law guards for you.

  21. Posted September 11, 2010 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Makes sense to me.

    I hope this encourages artists to value their music more and have the confidence to charge for their work.

    If people can’t pay a dollar for a track then do they really value it?

    If artists want to give their music away then just email folk the track.

    I am guessing that the next change might be a minimum pricing policy, yes?

  22. Brian
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    I wanted to step in and say that while I understand BC’s logic in doing this, it’s still a bit disappointing to think about it. Basically, I am one of two people running an independent label and after we discovered Bandcamp this summer, we decided to start an all-free archive of promotional only releases by artists on our roster. Eventually, our downloads will inevitably run out and I just don’t see us reconciling an additional cost to give something away for free. Understandably, Bandcamp sees it that way too, but from our end this will probably just lead to a parting of ways. Thanks for everything cool Bandcamp, we appreciated it.

  23. Posted September 11, 2010 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Initial reaction is “you fucking sellout bastards”
    BUT
    if you can give away 500 downloads then you have a big enough fanbase to charge for something. So I cant really argue.

    I used to love bandcamp and tried to promote it because it seemed perfect. Let a band rise to the top and then everyone makes money. But instead its gone short term. Which may be the more realistic business model. But for me its no use.

  24. Rich Dale
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    I’ve never met a ‘struggling musician’ who couldn’t afford a few beers and a bag of chips at the end of a gig.

    Some people need to get real.

  25. Posted September 11, 2010 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry, but there is no way $75 for 5000 downloads will work for me or my label. I’d MUCH rather have ads. I think this is a dangerous road to go down – you do things right with the players and service, but to shift the cost of ads onto the musicians is not a good idea. There’s no way most artists are going to be able to reach the $500 to get 1000 free downloads.

    I understand you need to cover server costs – that’s obvious. I just can’t see this as the right way to get those funds.

    P.S. If we DO end up paying money for free downloads, could we transfer some of those into download codes? If we’re paying the same amount for them, and they cost you the same amount of resources, it would be great to transfer the two, or let one eat up the other.

  26. Posted September 11, 2010 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Hi John, interesting idea about making the codes/download credits transferable, we’ll definitely consider it.

  27. Posted September 11, 2010 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    I understand the fact your trying to cover the cost of something FREE being downloaded over a thousand sumodd times.

    But why can’t you force these limitations onto those users who are actually GETTING thousands of of downloads and are MAKING more than $30 a year off of this site – instead of flushing out those of us not fortunate enough to have that kind of success?

  28. Posted September 11, 2010 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    Hey DJ EAR, that’s actually the first thing we looked at — how many “free” downloads could each account come with such that the fewest number of artists would be affected. The above plan only impacts a couple hundred artists (out of tens of thousands).

  29. Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    Hi Ethan,

    Does this count for non-download tracks which can only be streamed through the player?

    Marius

  30. Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    Hey Marius, no, streaming is still unlimited.

  31. Brooke
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    Interesting.
    Like others my initial emotional responce was ‘oh poo’ But having had a bit of a think on it, it doesnt seem so bad. The service offered is still excellent and piddles on the competition from a great hight. For a niche within a niche band like ourselves there is no way we will make $500 through sales even in a year, but then our download count is fairly low so spending $20 for 1000 is really not that bad.
    I may have missed a point in the post but what would happen if an artist was to set $0.01 as the minimum?

  32. Gary Tucker
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    I have six-going-on-seven albums, all of which I have been giving away free for years. THIS SITE IS A DREAM COME TRUE!

    The download costs are unfortunate but completely understandable. Bandcamp is not trying to rape anyone (like certain other sites I could mention but choose not to).

    If it ever becomes neccesary to “ReUp”, I have no problem whatsoever doing it at the numbers presented here.

    I do have one question – If I “disable downloads” on the INDIVIDUAL songs, is it still possible to donload an ALBUM and are all the songs included???

    This is important because I don’t want to use up my quota on people who simply want to check out a tune. They can just press the PLAY button. If they like it enough, then OK download the album, enjoy the tunes, covers art, added content/videos etc.

  33. Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    I would like to see one more feature allowed. I would like to release an album that includes videos. However, the 100MB that is currently available is not nearly enough. If an option to purchase more space (similar to the purchase of the download promo codes or the purchase of free downloads) were available, I would certainly use it. My release is for an anthology digital rerelease, and we would like to include almost a DVD worth (length, not size) of videos as extras.

    Regards,
    Neil

  34. Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    I find no problem with this, I’ll just charge a small fee for things I would have offered for free – we’ve all got to earn a living.

    I think the only people who’ll suffer from this are bootleggers and people who remake other peoples music for a living instead of touching on their creative/artistic side and making their own music… Hobbyists should just upload their covers to YouTube or something! You get paid there if you’ve enough followings anyway.

    Bandcamp, you definitely made a controversial decision… But as always as an artist, we just need to move with the times and make sure no little changes can affect our business.

  35. Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    What? You guys have operating costs? I thought this all magically happened…

  36. Posted September 11, 2010 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I see this change as perfectly reasonable.

    The way I see it, if an artist is not able to make $20 from their music in the time it takes them to distribute 500 free downloads and need another code, there are greater problems going on than Bandcamp’s policies.

    If you’ve got such a huge online draw that your fans are downloading your stuff thousands of times per month, you need to figure out how to make money from that.

    Either that, or cough up the cost of a movie and popcorn to get another 1000 free downloads.

  37. Posted September 11, 2010 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I was wondering how long Bandcamp could afford to give away so much for free. The price seems fair to me, especially when compared to the limitations of other music sites.

    I’m curious whether or not there are any plans of limiting the number of times a free artist can stream a song?

  38. Posted September 11, 2010 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    > If you prefer not to cover those costs, if you think that distributing your downloads next to ads for hot-singles-in-the-area-looking-for-love-tonight is better for the artist-fan connection, then you have several excellent options.

    Ha, that’s rubbish and you know it. There are several good sites (archive.org is one) that provide free distribution for music. Even last.fm. And then there’s a little website called Youtube that doesn’t charge.

  39. Posted September 11, 2010 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Hey displatypus, streaming is still unlimited. This change is about downloads — YouTube does not, as far as I know, provide fans with free, unlimited, high-quality audio downloads.

  40. Posted September 11, 2010 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    As I see it, this move is not about limiting musicians’ ability to give away free music. It is about encouraging them to sell their music, so that both they and Bandcamp can make some freakin’ money already.

    It’s all very groovy to give your music away for free forever, but that is a hippie ideal. The fact is, it’s never free. It costs MONEY to host content.

    Freebie musicians need to grow up. If your music is worth anything, sell it (at a reasonable, fair price). There is no reason why you shouldn’t make a living from making music. Your insistence that it should, like, all be free, man, undermines the ability of working musicians to make money, because it creates an expectation from consumers that music SHOULD be free.

    Music should be *affordable*. But implying that it costs nothing to create or host is naive. Getting pissy when hosting costs are passed to you is stupid.

  41. Gary Tucker
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I assure you I am quite grown up.
    Know how you can tell? No inflammatory remarks in a civil discussion, for one. Still, I choose to give my tunes away free. As stated before I have no problem paying for the additional downloads when it becomes neccesary, so it shouldn’t make a bit of difference to anyone here. And, since my tunes are nothing short of awesome, everybody wins. ;)

  42. Posted September 11, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Sounds fair to me as long as I still get that mini game on my stats, haha. I like the incentive opportunity for the fans. Haha

  43. Posted September 11, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I understand the needs of what you’re doing because you’re offering a good service, but I think this move is kind of forcing artists to sell their music, I know it’s expensive for you, but there are plenty of musicians out there who (like in my case) doesn’t have the financial power to buy more free downloads, and I think charging is fair for you as a service provider, the thing that bothers me is that there are many people in bandcamp that do not have good equipment and make homemade recordings, which are in most cases very very good, but most people wouldn’t pay for them because they usually expect more quality (soundwise not in music because as I said there are many good musicians with not so good equipment) for their money, so I think this measure limits the reaching of the music that was growing in your site, I’ve heard too many artists here that are Really Really independents and I’ve downloaded a lot of albums that I wouldn’t had the opportunity to download if they weren’t for free, I know there are other options for free downloads but again, a lot of people are not really going to go for that,I think the things you’ve done for music community all over the world are great, and I’m very thankful for what you’ve done for me and to spread my music, I think the service is worth it because you spend a lot of time and efforts developing the service (I’m a Telematic Student and I know how hard it is to develop a system that is as good as bandcamp) also not to mention the host and traffic fees that you must pay, I only wanted to express that is sad that this free model didn’t work too well because it gave people who do music for the love of it and not for business a way to spread their music with a direct artist – fan connection, but that might change now because most of the artist who work in that way (not giving free music as promotion to sell a product, but as their only mean to be listened) will have to charge and the wrong part of the idea, is that charging wasn’t even in their plans ever, but they’ll be forced because of your needs, not theirs. Which I think is fair because you have covered our needs with your service, but is still sad that thinks didn’t work out in the way you initially planned.

  44. Posted September 11, 2010 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Music and musicians should or shouldn’t BE anything of one sort or the other. Music is a creative art and as such will vary from group to group. We can’t go on judging it by popularity or by what I personally like and YOU don’t. That’s a recipe for bad policies all around.

    These policy changes are well thought out and seemingly fair. If you wish to support music and musicians get out there and get people to their gigs. Be a part of their audiences yourself and buy their damn t-shirts. Buy them a beer, put them up on your sofa when they come through your town, feed them. And tell people about their great music by directing them to their BANDCAMP site where they can hear their music and perhaps spend some money to have it for themselves.

    That’s what supporting new music looks like. I dare you to find a musician who will disagree with that.

    So keep this site alive by making necessary changes. And if your favorite musicians can’t afford that $20 then help them raise it for the next level of free downloads they need. xo

  45. Posted September 11, 2010 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    It’s okay, but I think you should set the maximum to 250 downloads (100 for new accounts) and reset it every three months or so. So the artists, who don’t sell so much can offer the free downloads at least on a regular base.

  46. Posted September 11, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Bandcamp.com has now decided to charge me for each person that downloads my music for free? What the?… Everyone is trying to make a buck these days.

    As a newbe and after the initial shock I too think it’s ok as there is a lot of value in the service Bandcamp.com provides. So I’ll hang in there with them and see how it all pans out.

  47. Niko
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I got a question about all of this.

    It says on the blog post that the tracks automatically switch to paid once the free download tickets have been depleted. Is the only option after that to have the tracks automatically switch to paid, even if the artist has no paypal account and cannot accept any extra income from something like music sold on bandcamp for whatever reason(income restrictions on certain gov’t benefits due to sickness/eunemployment etc.)?
    In other words, is it possible to just have the download become disabled until more download codes have been purchased if the artist cannot accept any payment(which would be the reason for the music being free in the first place) ?

  48. Posted September 11, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Hi Niko, right now we don’t offer an option to just switch off downloads if you run out. However, we do notify you if you get low, so if for some reason you’re not in a position to accept money, you can log-in and disable downloading manually.

  49. Posted September 11, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    gotta say guys – this hurts. my entire angle is that music should be free and artists should make it for no other reason. I understand logistically why you have to do this but I must say it hurts my faith in your original mission statement.

    artists who feel they NEED to be paid for their music lose sight of why they make music at all. Its not a trade, its an art. Maybe there should be a one time distinction for those of us who feel its a priority to give away art rather than be forced to sell it.

  50. Posted September 11, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Hey guys –

    I’m one of those artists sitting on the edge here with just under $1k total revenue from bandcamp, all from donations on the pay-what-you-want scale.

    As was mentioned, most of my downloads are free – only a percentage of consumers actually donate. But these numbers make a lot of sense.

    If I’m getting 1,000 downloads per $500, and I’ve received $1,000 just at 2,000 downloads, then the amount is really going to come full-circle at some point and my downloads will sustain themselves.

    If I put a little notifier to my fans out when my download count gets low, I’m sure people will start pitching in to keep the music free. And hey, as someone said, this does give me a reason to charge a small minimum where I otherwise wouldn’t, and that comes back to me in a good way. Keep the hot releases free, the older ones charge a dime for – no big deal at all. (:

  51. Alex Santos
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I also think that the free-download counter should be reset every 1-3 months.

    Bandcamp should charge the artists that are giving away 75.000 downloads for free, they are the ones draining the bandwidth.

    Anyway, I support this new idea because i don’t want Bandcamp to disappear. They do a great job!

  52. Posted September 11, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe people are upset about this.

    If you want to give away your music and not sell anything to back that up, get a hosting account and do it yourself. Bandwidth, hosting, all of that costs money. And despite this, streaming is still unlimited on Bandcamp.

    To everyone who’s disappointed and upset about this, good riddance. I’d much rather see Bandcamp address issues like this, issues that could harm them in the long term, rather than cater to artists who think everything’s free, ultimately crippling what’s otherwise a good thing.

    If you really want everything to be ‘free’ then be prepared for ads on your Bandcamp pages, followed by the collapse of what used to be a good service.

    Quit whining.

    Keep up the good work, team Bandcamp :)

  53. Posted September 11, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I’m interested that Bandcamp is not interested in supporting the Netlabel scene which thrives on free music.

  54. Posted September 11, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I have absolutely no problem with this. You guys do an amazing job of allowing the little guy an fantastic site and platform to sell music. I have nothing but praise for BC and constantly recommend it.

    For everyone crying about this, i.e. John Gilliant, do you think everything is free? Like BC just spontaneously created itself with no overhead? It sounds like you just want everything handed to you for free, and unfortunately that’s not how the world works.

    However, if I could change anything it would be the name. (And yes I am completely aware that this thread has absolutely nothing to do with this. It’s just a thought.) When I tell people the name of the site, they chuckle, cause obviously the whole Apple Pie thing comes to mind. And I often feel like they take it a little less seriously there after. Just a thought. But keep up the fantastic work! I appreciate what you do.

  55. Travis Merchant
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Personally, I still want to give my music for free because I don’t care to gain money spreading the messages I want to send. I want to continue to do that rather than pay to send out the message and to continue selling it, I would have to buy more tracks or sell the album itself.

    I am not supporting this to complete work. I will continue to use this for a while, but I am probably going to go somewhere else. Sorry Bandcamp…

  56. Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Hey Ethan,

    My first response to this is — AWESOME! Anything that benefits Bandcamp financially, but is still fair to artists is a great thing. This is a free market, and Bandcamp is the best music site out there. If charging us “rent” for your bandwidth can help you recoop your costs and avoid our Bandcamp websites from being shutdown forever… then do it! Sounds like a great idea and I apologize for these losers who don’t get it…

    PS I AM A STARVING MUSICIAN TOO… (okay maybe not starving)

    Cheers,
    Sam

  57. Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I remember when I first signed up for Bandcamp, one of the lines in the literature that helped sell it to me was something along the lines of “it only makes sense for Bandcamp to make money if the artist is making money”. This new change seems contrary to that — if I’m giving away everything for free, I now have to pay for it.

    I love the service Bandcamp provides, but I’m not sure how I feel about paying to give something away.

  58. Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    We still feel the same way Yazan. This change isn’t about profiting from artists who choose to give their music away, it’s about continuing to support that usage in a way that at least covers the costs.

  59. Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Our label is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but this is very much a disappointment for those like me who wish to share their music. Very saddened by this. Bandcamp was the best venue for my music. Its becoming increasingly clear that I need to find another hobby…

  60. Bryan W.
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    That’s not a bad idea, Henry.
    I’m in the same boat.

    With everyone & their brothers constantly churning out music, it’s actually a challenge to get people to listen in the first place, even for free!

    Regardless, I’ve been happy with BC since the beginning and I hope everything works out~

  61. Posted September 11, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Reading some of yall’s comments are depressing. Not too long ago, people bought music from stores in a physical form or through iTunes. Once iTunes stopped accepting any/every band that came to them, it became difficult for indies to get their music on there. So Bandcamp comes through to take the virtual A&R out of the picture, and now cats are complaining about free downloads?? WTF is wrong wit’chall? If you think it’s wrong to put a price-tag on your product then perhaps you didn’t pay for it either. Or perhaps you don’t value the product itself and if not, it doesn’t need to be heard.

    Some of you aren’t even reading the post right, your complaints are confusing other commentaries. Big up to Bandcamp for this change, i hope it pushes the free-loaders to the side.

  62. thom
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    All I can do is repeat what Jeff Scott Townsend said @ comment No. 43 – “I have absolutely no problem with this. You guys do an amazing job of allowing the little guy an fantastic site and platform to sell music. I have nothing but praise for BC and constantly recommend it”.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch, and if you people want everything for ‘free’, go use Jamendo or Myspace and feel the massive drop in quality! Bandcamp is a unique platform for musicians, and that is free to join and easy to use is something we should be thanking the guys who run it for.

  63. Posted September 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    @Mr. Townsend, better to have warm apple pie than a partially eaten apple, wouldn’t you say? =]

    @Mr. Merchant, can you not spread your message via the play button rather than the download link?

    @Mr. Williams, thanks for the advice on the compulsory licensing bit. Unfortunately, your exception is exactly what I was trying to do, so I’m a little boned. And in some cases, I’m not able to license a track through HFA because the artist isn’t big enough, so I just come to an agreement directly with the artist.

    And lastly, Ethan, I would be happy to work with you on a simple implementation of my idea/request, if you’re willing to hear me out.

  64. Posted September 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    “Hey Marius, no, streaming is still unlimited.”

    Thank you for the info, Ethan.

    Here’s to the continued success of your awesome service for musicians and bands.

    All the best,
    Marius

  65. amphibian
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    @guyha – you could always set up your own hosting account, which would cost you more ;)

  66. Posted September 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see that big of a deal with this change…BC has bandwidth they need to pay for somehow. Better this than hitting us with spammy ads.

    This could be a cool way to do a “limited” free download track – available until you hit the 500 mark, then no more.

    In fact, that’s a feature that might be nice to have – the option to set a certain number of downloads per track before it “turns off”. This might also help those to manage the 500 freebies they get and spread them out evenly across certain tracks.

  67. Posted September 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm.

    It’s easy to give music away for free. You can use any of the many free sites set up already for this. Or you can get a pretty good hosting plan for a few bucks a month and do it yourself. It’s easy.

    Thing is, if you just want to give it away, you don’t really need bandcamp to do it for you. The beauty of bandcamp’s UI is how simple it makes the process of listen-pay-download.

    It’s really hard to get people to follow this process without a good system like bandcamp, but when you take the “pay” bit out it’s really no issue – people will happily wait 30 seconds, or ignore ads, or click a couple more times to get your free content – that’s not the problem bandcamp solves.

    So I’m not too bothered about this. As others have noted, if so many people are downloading your stuff that you can’t afford to give it away, you need to look at your strategy a little closer.

    And also as others have noted, the next step really, really, really, should be to do away with paypal. Can this happen without more fees though?

  68. Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    First off, thanks so much for the upload limit expansion. That is so fantastic. Much appreciated.

    Secondly, these fees for the free downloads are completely fair and reasonable.

    I think everyone’s natural reaction seems to be, “something that used to be free now costs money!? What an OUTRAGE!!!”

    Think about the numbers, people. If you’re giving away 500 for free, you’re getting enough traffic to sell $20 worth of SOMETHING to afford another thousand (and easily another 5000, really). In fact, I’ll bet if you feel that there’s a reasonable risk that you’re going to quickly run through your initial, free 500 a week from now, you’re not on here bitching about $9-75. I don’t get traffic like that and I can easily cover it from bandcamp sales that I’ve made (from pay-what-you-want pricing) in the past.

    And if you’re complaining because you like to give everything away for free, you’re not going to convince me that you really can’t afford $20 (much less $75). Skip 2-3 meals at a fast food place or a few beers and you got another 1000 downloads. You don’t even have to skip them this week or this month. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time to skip them quite comfortably while your first 500 freebies (with any luck) ebb away.

    If you have real conviction about giving it away, then commit and sacrifice for it. This isn’t like a ‘bleeding for [your] art’ kind of sacrifice. We’re talking about $20 here. Just stop for a moment and think about the stupid crap you blow $20 on without even thinking. And who said giving something of yours away for free shouldn’t cost *you* anything? Kind of meaningfully enhances the experience of giving, doesn’t it?

    Now, if you’re giving it away and need 5000, you’re going to shock the hell out of me if you’re not making enough income from your music some other way (like shows, licensing, merch, etc.) to cover the fees.

    Anyway, I love when there’s an RSS update on the bandcamp blog. Always great. (Still psyched about the upload limit expansion!)

  69. Posted September 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    #61 (test tube) has a great idea there! An option for setting a free download limit per track/album, rather than a global amount for everything.

  70. Posted September 11, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    These are disappointing changes. Taking a cut of sales to keep bandcamp afloat is understandable but this move is going to push away artists like me, who want to remove as many barriers as possible between their music and their listeners.

    I’ve evangelised to all about the wonders of Bandcamp but it no longer seems so fantastic for free distribution. Sorry to see you taking these steps.

  71. Posted September 11, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    When I first saw a change effecting the free downloads I was a little disappointed. But then I read the rest of the article.

    You guys are letting us give away up to 500 downloads. I agree with several people on here that if you have an online fan base (or real life fan base) that is big enough to support 500 free downloads, then you can probably either scrape up the necessary money from doing shows or you can ask fans to donate by doing name-your-price.

    If someone doesn’t have $20, then they need to grab their guitar, go down to a coffee shop or street corner, and play for a few hours while collecting tips. It’ll be good for them.

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and there’s no such thing as cost-free web hosting.

  72. Glyn Powell
    Posted September 11, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi

    I’m not a bigseller. As far as I am concerned, what you are doing concerning free downloads is totally fair.

    Best wishes to you and respect for all your hard work and your underpinning ethic.

    Glyn :)

  73. Posted September 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Just this week I said to a friend, while referring them to join your site, “I love Bandcamp for managing my free downloads; I would honestly pay for that service.”

    So, when I say that I found this post insulting and no longer wish to be your user, understand that it isn’t about not wanting to pay for something.

    No, it is about this post being utterly condescending to musicians who have a business model other than “trying to sell bits of digital ephemera,” which is already in its death throes.

    I want you to make a profit, but I don’t want to be your “outlier” or your “burden” who has to “power up” to be a viable user. I just want to give away tracks for free so people pay to see my shows. It’s a service I would have gladly paid you for two days ago.

    Had you announced this (very logical, sound for business) change in any other way I would gladly shell out to remain your user. However, while exposing your logic and business sense, you’ve shown what you think of your lower volume users – and that attitude isn’t something I’m eager to subscribe to or pay to be a part of.

  74. Posted September 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear that Peter! I’m a little surprised you find the power-ups condescending, the idea is only to bring a little fun to something that could have just as easily been left dead-dry (same deal with Defender in your stats). The “burden” we’re talking about in the post is the literal financial load generated by a relative minority of artists — didn’t mean burden in the nuisance sense (could have probably found a better word there, but anyway, no offense intended).

    Regarding “…a business model other than ‘trying to sell bits of digital ephemera,’ which is already in its death throes,” please check out the growth curve over on our front page. Sales are surging through the site, and while the majority of those sales are still digital, fully 1/3rd are physical goods like vinyl, CDs, USB sticks, t-shirts, and so on. Handing money to Universal for a CD or download in the hope that Nelly might one day see a piece of it may be on the way out, but it’s clear that when you provide fans with an easy way to directly support the artists they love (and get something good in return), they’re more than happy to open their wallets.

    Good luck with everything!

  75. Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    so, the other shoe has dropped. TANSTAAFL! I understand, you need to support this site in some way. Bandwidth and drive space cost money. Can we just pay you then? Is that already an option, or no? I mentioned before that i refuse, under any circumstances as a matter of religious principle, to accept money for downloads of my music; I should also mention that this conviction extends to physical copies of my music. I will not take money for music, period. I am however, more than happy to take money for physical goods, and also live shows. T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, marital aids, whatever… and concerts. is there any way to implement ticket sales through bandcamp? Maybe it would be difficult to coordinate with every little venue that a bandcamp artist might play at, but I can think of ways to make it work. Printable tickets with unique ID codes, stored in a bandcamp database. The artist makes their own arrangement with the venue to accept the tickets, which they (the venue) turn over to the artist, and the artist pays the venue for each ticket.

  76. Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    > Can we just pay you then? Is that already an option, or no?

    Yep, it is. If you don’t want to sell your music, you can just buy more download credits for the prices mentioned in the post. And in case you missed it, here’s how you can sell your physical goods through Bandcamp (and optionally bundle your music alongside): http://blog.bandcamp.com/2009/11/15/physical-digital-together-at-last/

  77. Posted September 12, 2010 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    Pay Pal doesn’t work in Russia. So how should I sell my music here? I realize I’m not popular enough to be important for all BandCamp, but anyway… Now I need to pay to keep sharing my music for free (actually it’s nonsense, isn’t it). I understand your reasons, but cannot accept them.
    Anyway, good luck.
    Alexander Piterskiy.

  78. Posted September 12, 2010 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    Hi Alexander, we hope to expand our payment options in the future. Right now you can receive money in any of 56 countries, but you’re right, Russia unfortunately isn’t one of them. You definitely don’t need to pay to keep sharing your music for free though. You can continue to upload and have your fans stream an unlimited amount of music. It’s only if you get more than 500 downloads that you’ll need to chip in a little.

  79. Ameeth Thomas
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    I really think this is extremely reasonable…. Instead of looking at it as a negative thing, look at it from a promotional point of view for an artist …… If you have been giving free downloads you do have a database right ?. All you have to do is for the next release say the first 500 downloads are free. This will create some kind of buzz with your fans.

  80. Posted September 12, 2010 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Bc is still awesome. People are neglecting this biggest selling point of a free download… The email address. This is huge and definitely worth a couple cents. Artists need to realize that you have to give to receive and bc has been giving long enough…

  81. Posted September 12, 2010 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    I like the idea and I like the fact that the music will not expire (sites such as usershare, rapidshare, megaupload, etc can expire). There is an abundant amount of free music that is released daily and it is hard for the consumer to “grab” all of the music. Bandcamp is a great site because it gives the user the option to preview songs before they buy or download them.

    Keep up the good work guys,
    Patrick

  82. Posted September 12, 2010 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    While I unerstand that 75,000 free downloads is bound to cripple your finances in no time I think your limits are far too safe.

    Think of it this way. If a well known band/record label chooses to use bandcamp for a free download campaign they are bound to record download figures in the tens of thousands… even a moderately popular band/label is going to make in excess of 1000/2000 downloads eventually…

    But for an act like myself who is happy to admit that his downloads may never reach the 1000s – the limit of 200/500 free downloads is in no way practical. I am not going to pay money so that others dont have to… the idea is that we are non-profit.. with no profit there is no extra money to be spent on things like this.

    So the limit should be made to be 1000 downloads.. smaller bands will never exceed the limit and larger bands who can afford to pay for extra will exceed that limit in day or so… its fair for everyone.

    OR!!!

    Why set the limit to 200/500 indefinitely? Why not make a monthly download limit?? so that large campaigns will be forced to pay either way and smaller bands will be able to keep up their monthly free downloads without having to pay more money after all their downloads run out!

    It just doesnt seem fair.. after all this time uploading music I am thinking I will just pull out now and find some other way of distributing.. if there is one..

  83. Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    i think its a very fair idea….i actually was wondering *when* you were going to start being a paid service!

    your website is what the “old” MP3.com was but w more perks!

    i will GLADLY pay your $75 a year for your fantastic service!

    *SUGGESTION* tho!

    for “YEARLY” subscribers as i DEF WILL BE ONE – make “unlimited” DLs – now that would be a perfect deal!

  84. Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    > Why not make a monthly download limit? <
    Yep, that's what I've been ready to suggest too.

  85. Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    The free download thing doesn’t really affect me, but here’s an idea. It doesn’t take much to calculate how much you’re spending on the bandwidth and all per artist, so make that number visible on the stat pages. Presto, instant understanding.

    -J

  86. Posted September 12, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Hear me out, from the perspective of a music blogger who pays out of pocket to host her site to promote new music, … your music, you talented unsigned artists.

    For once, I have the opportunity to direct readers to an alternative place to purchase your records and tracks. I don’t have to send them to Itunes or to CDbaby or Amazon where they take a large cut) from your sales. I do that every single time I can. And every single time I post an mp3 or write about you I link to where to buy your music. You should insist on that from everyone who writes about you on the internet! (even if you’re giving it away for free)

    Unless you also run your own labels or have a sweet deal with your buddies’ labels, you’re not going to get anything better than this. I don’t run ads on my site. Without bandcamp.com I’m not going to get any better opportunity to give my readers direct access to you. I don’t promote very many artists on labels (yes, I do for some that I like, because my blog is about music I actually listen to.)

    So, for all that you believe in the dignity of your art, and all that you wish to preserve the value of music, remember there’s others out here working for you as well. Please don’t let your egos get in the way, kickstarter.com is an awesome place to raise money if you honestly can’t find it any other way. Your fans will come through. xo

  87. Steve
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe I’m hearing people complain about these prices. This is absolutely the lowest you can possibly charge for downloads. It’s an incredible deal. The cheapest place on the internet to sell your music that I know about, is limitedpressing.com, and these prices are right on par with that site. So if you’re just going to give away your music free, with no donations or anytything, this is as cheap as you can do it hands down. Great job guys!

  88. Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Ethan, I have been in love with Bandcamp since January of 2010 and have put all of my music on this site. I think everything you’re doing here is fair, and I understand the service costs money… as you’ve said many times, “Give us your ideas if you have them.”

    I think a few of the users really have put forth a fair point when they suggest a lower initial number of free downloads that quarterly reset. This way, folks who are giving away tens of thousands of tracks pay for the bandwidth as they ought, and folks who give away a few downloads a month can continue to do that on a stunning and fabulous website without having to pay to do so. It’s hard for the little guys to pay for any of it… recording, mixing, mastering, art, etc.

    Sufjan and Amanda Palmer should pay for the vast amounts of bandwidth they require to move digital merchandise, but the English teacher in Cleveland or the librarian in Aurora who’s a thumping good songwriter and is just trying to get some exposure by giving away as many well-written demos as he can, may have a very difficult time selling enough to power up.

    anyway Ethan, i think you guys rock a lot, and i’ll keep using bandcamp for sure. just wondering what you think of the reseting DL idea.

  89. Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks a lot Lee, we’re mulling over the feedback, as always. Sufjan, Amanda Palmer and the many thousands of other indie artists selling their music on Bandcamp already do pay for the resources they consume — they do that through the revenue share system. The English teacher in Cleveland and the librarian in Aurora are, statistically-speaking, unlikely to ever run into these limits (as mentioned before, it applies to a few hundred artists out of tens of thousands). But if they do, selling more to get the downloads for free isn’t their only option — they can just pay for more download credits. A pay-for-use system like this is, in our opinion, a lot more fair than say, a subscription system that banks on the little guy (who doesn’t even come close to consuming enough resources to justify his $10/month) covering the costs for the big guy burning through a ton of bandwidth, support, storage, and so on.

  90. admin
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I’m VERY DISAPPOINTED. but I want to give you an alternative. put a banner on every profile, THAT’S A LOT OF SPACE. but let the music be freely downlodable. There are artists that do it for money but there are artists I’ve never had the idea of selling my music beacause I know that nobody will buy it while they can download it. so let mp3 be free and if anyone wants a copy of my cd, come at my concert and buy it (or ask me).

  91. Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    No one should be complaining about this.

    A lot of musicians don’t realize that hosting a “free” download of one of their songs isn’t really free. Sure it’s free to download by a fan, but someone has to pay to host that download. I mean for some bands bandcamp has been their main website.. and you’ve been getting that FOR FREE!! Web hosting is not free! Without fees for hosting, I’d assume band camp would go bankrupt with all the downloads they host? Stop complaining and enjoy this EXTREMELY cheap website and hosting service.

  92. Posted September 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve commented here before, and I believe it is fair to charge people money for things that cost money. However I also think it is fair to only charge people for downloads and bandwidth that they use – like many web hosting providers.

    Right now you are offering prepaid plans; what does it cost for the unlimited plan? I’d be interested in the 0% sales, unlimited downloads option. ;)

  93. QWE
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I would rather have a small ad on my page and keep unlimited free downloads, to be completely honest. I’d rather not sell downloads or pay to give them away for free. Maybe this site just isn’t for me and the group of other musicians I know who use this site for small projects they want to give away for free indefinitely?

  94. Jesse Engel
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    If you really are worried about the outliers then it would make sense to make the free upload limits a little higher, such that the little people don’t ever bump up against them.

    If you’re worried about the guy with 75,000 free downloads, setting the free limit to 2000 still nabs him, while making it much less likely that a small time band will bounce up against it.

    Of course, if you’re looking for ways to get revenue from those little people… then you’ve found a way.

  95. Posted September 12, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jessie, the vast majority of artists won’t bump up against the limit. This isn’t a guess — it’s just a statement of fact based on looking at everybody’s download stats over the past year. So as opposed to being a way to get revenue from the little people, as you say, it’s a way to make sure that the artists driving significant downloads (but who, for whatever reason, have decided not to sell) cover their own costs.

  96. Posted September 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    “There’s no way most artists are going to be able to reach the $500 to get 1000 free downloads”

    There’s also no way “most artists” are going to be in a position of even having to worry about this. Most artists are not going to see 500 free downloads, much less 1000 or 5000. As Ethan said, that percentage is a few hundred out of tens of thousands.

    Everyone who is complaining about this change should justify their complaints by telling us how many free downloads their fans use in a given period.

    If you seriously have the fanbase that your fans are just blowing through all your free downloads but you do not have a way to make a lousy $20 off of them, you are doing it wrong. Plain and simple.

  97. Posted September 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I’d rather have a banner or ad (get money from companies, not artists)…

  98. Posted September 12, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Good move. Business is business. That’s why we go into it. You provide an awesome service, and should get compensated for it. Thanks!

  99. Kevin
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    this is a great motivation for artists to realize that their product is worth something and that it should be understood as being a valuable product to the public, thus having a price tag. go bandcamp!

  100. Posted September 13, 2010 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    I feel like BandCamp still gives an enormous amount at no cost. Just offering free streaming without ads puts them above the competition.

    The important thing to me is that it costs nothing to get started with BandCamp, and if your traffic is low (perhaps you’re not the most prolific artist!) you pay nothing.

  101. sjogro
    Posted September 13, 2010 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    Hey I just got my bandcamp page configured a few days ago and this comes as a disappointment. But, reading through the comments and the excellent responses I just realize I missed the exciting start of something that has become big already. I’m from the netherlands and had never heard of bandcamp before till I was linked to the page two times on the same day and thought: “can I get one of those?”. I was excited that it was free, but also surprised. Therefor, I understand this ‘compromise’ and I think you thought it out really well (in contrast of some of the other commenters). This is in fact the cleanest way I can imagine to keep things as free as possible. Good luck, I’m loving the ease of use. If I can get off-topic here and have 1 little suggestion; uploading an album in a single upload and configuring titles/trackorder etc. afterwards would be high on my list. Cheers & love.

  102. Posted September 13, 2010 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    Hello Ethan and Bandcamp folk,
    I love what bandcamp had done for musicians and small labels and think it totally valid to charge for larger usage of the service.

    However, the thing that sits heaviest with me, is this being an account stipend, rather than a regularly occurring replenishment i.e. 500 free downloads ever vs. say 25 free downloads a month.

    I think switching the model in this direction might make more sense and also increase longevity of the “product;” if it were replenished more frequently, members would continue to use the product, rather than let pages remain stagnant because there are no more free downloads.

    Just a thought.
    Thank you

  103. Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Ethan, Bandcamp, please take the ‘I want it all for nothing’ crowd with a grain of salt. I have been a “Struggling Musician” my whole life and I have ZERO problem with this. It’s been implemented with the same care and consideration in line with your philosophy from day one. Allowing 1000 downloads for $500 in sales is no arbitrary figure. My band has a physical product for sale but MP3’s of the same songs are ‘Pay What You Want Including Nothing’. The MP3’s ALONE generate more than $500 for every 1000 downloaded. Through the generosity of our fans alone. My advice to the whiners would be to just give your fans the chance to pay and they will, and you will likely find your downloads will remain free.

    http://civilcivic.bandcamp.com/

  104. Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    This and all of your other changes is/are perfectly reasonable. When I self hosted music my bandwidth fees were higher than band camp fees ever will be and it was a lot of work and didn’t work that well.

    Bandcamp is the reason my music actually gets downloaded. With any other “free” service the user experience is terrible and people run screaming to where they came from before they even listen.

    If I make an album that I want to give away for free forever it is a labor of love; I care enough about my fans to spend 10 bucks to make sure they can listen to it or download it without being attacked by popups or having to wait 40 seconds to download. Or having to load a myspace page (terrible).

    And if I am selling music the fees everywhere else are ridiculous for a service that again loses in the user experience department.

    Besides, you can always stream music for free and just link to a mediafire file if you want to go that route.

    I am ecstatic you went with a pay what you use service versus a 5$ a month no matter what you use model.

  105. rod.ski
    Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    a lot of the comments here really make me sad. if you want to use a professional service like bandcamp you have to pay. if you’re not a professional then maybe you don’t really need a professional service and you’re better off using something else to distribute your music to your 12 friends.

    sigh.

  106. Taranis
    Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    I have a few thoughts about this thread.
    First, to the musicians doing music.
    I don’t think that any true artist (musicians in this case) does not want to be appreciated for the hard work and time they put into making their music. Most likely, your instruments, your computer, your recording software/hardware, studio time, rehearsals and cost you time. And money.
    Tally it up. How many man hours did you spend?

    Lets assume your really good at what you do, and you consider yourself a pro…what is your hourly wage?
    Now, multiply the hours, months, years you put into your music. How much money should you have?

    Probably a lot.

    Valued Artist, through out history, musicians and artist have always been considered the creme of the crop in most societys. Pirates regarded their musicians in the highest honors, and fought to keep them alive at all cost, or, keep them alive if raiding them. Talent and skillmanship came at a high price.

    Today also, there is a reason rising stars are so acclaimed. A struggling artist, is one that moves from the shadows to hopefully step into the lime light. And the process can take some time.

    Here comes the conundrum. The time and skill that a musician developed into their craft, often does NOT translate into the world of self promotion or advertising. Either fans, or a good promotor/manager, takes care of that. Terms of negotiation, knavery and a sense of good dealings, are what eventually make a band financially stable (I’m assuming there is a market for your particular music here).

    Yet, you wouldn’t expect your promoter to go uncompensated. Or better, having to cover YOUR charges for his dealings. Or would you?

    Some people threw out big label names like EMI. Look at them. They have a structure. They know what sells, they do heavy promotions. But all that comes at a cost.
    Good services come at a cost. Don’t expect to walk to the Delano in Miami beach on the weekend and expect to pay Mcdonald prices for a Burger (assuming the make them).

    Fringe artist (and I probably fir that demographic now), upcoming artist, new artist, have to fight to establish a name. They have to fight to be relevant. They have to fight to be GOOD. And the good artist comes at a price. Good service comes at a price. Financial models change as time changes to adapt to, well, changes.

    I’m a web/multimedia designer by trade, musician/producer/artist by love. I am amazed of how certain people, when inquiring for service, are sticker shocked at development prices. And yet they expect to have the next “Facebook” at a salary to not even pay your electric bill.
    Hopefully I’ve dragged the example long out enough to show you that your time is valuable, and so is that of other people hosting your services.

    You want better tools? You want great service? You want sharks with laser beams on their frigg’n head to cut through competition? I do too. Free has its place, but so does getting paid for revealing your muse to others.

    I actually give Band Camp two thumbs up for this move. Smart, professional, and serious.
    Keep up the hard work guys, because I, and my band, truly appreciate it.

  107. Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    I just wanna write in and speak on this issue from the standpoint of somebody currently charging for music.

    This update doesn’t really affect me or my band a whole lot because we’re on a paid basis. We’re planning on doing a free release here and there, but we mostly want to get paid for what we’re doing, as selfish as that might seem.

    A lot of people seem to think getting paid for music corresponds with robbing people. You don’t have to charge people THAT much, our ten track album is four dollars, and if that’s too high for some of our fans, they can stream it for free. I personally don’t feel like we’re stepping on any fingers.

    That being said, I have friends who love this website because it allows them to release their music for free, and for a minute I was upset that they might have to rethink their “careers” if they wanna keep moving forward with bandcamp.

    But then I realized something that a lot of people take for granted about this website, and it’s that this website has single handedly helped build a few careers, or at the very least has managed to take something from being a hobby to being more than a hobby for a ton of people, myself included.

    Bandcamp is the only platform my band is currently selling on. If they ever manage to start pressing physical CDs and printing t-shirts, they’ll become the only platform we’ll ever plan on using as long as we stay together.

    Bandcamp has really helped us out on an almost best friends level, and they really haven’t asked for anything much at all in return. Without Bandcamp we’d still be doing what we’re doing, but it probably wouldn’t be half as easy. And for a long time, they’ve been allowing free only artists to do the same thing.

    But think about it, all of you free based artists who are cursing this update. Bandcamp has provided you with a tantamount service, completely free of charge, for a long time now. They could’ve coated your pages in ads and made easy money off of your willingness to give your music away, but they didn’t. And now it’s just getting to a point where they no longer have a viable way to give you every service you need for free.

    The fact that they ever did is something you should be praising them for, you shouldn’t be lashing out at them now that they’re unable to meet the demands of thousands of artists saying “Here, take my music hosted on someone else’s server completely free of charge and sterile of any advertisements.”

    You’re truly not victims here, it’s a wonderful thing that you have the guts to give your music away for free, but you shouldn’t expect a website that already houses plenty of artists who are actually making money to contain a limitless amount of free material that takes up space on their finite web server.

    Bandcamp has allowed thousands of people to live out their dream of having fans, and for a good while they let you host all your work on their servers with absolutely nothing in it for them. Sure, it sucks that they’ve reached a point where they can’t afford to do it for free anymore, but that’s just a testament to how far this service has come, and where it’s going in the future.

    Thank you everyone at Bandcamp for allowing us to give our dreams a shot,

    Baby Giraffes.

  108. Posted September 13, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Hey everyone, I wrote a guide on how to deal with the new free download restrictions, please have a look if this stuff concerns you: http://tumblr.christianmontoya.com/post/1115724390/how-to-deal-with-bandcamps-new-free-download

  109. JunkieFunkyMonkey
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    For Jimi Hendrix sake, STOP BITCHIN.
    Its not like you just realized today every damn thing costs money. Bandcamp is the best platform for indie music projects out there, period. Every comment rejecting the new policies as pure greed is childish.

    *Wanna keep your art, message, vibe, noise or whatever the hell you call your music completely free? You can still do so. Allow people only to play the songs on your BC page and provide them with nice download links to your favourite filestorage provider for every and all of your tunes. That way you would keep your conscience clean and the hippie fairy of music won’t lose its wings.

    *You are an independent label that gives away the work of its roster in order to fight the dark side of the force better known as music business? In that case you already have some alternate income (day job, drug dealing, your parents) cuz you have at least a few expenses, like the internet service bill, and now you just need a little more. Someone gotta pay for that bandwidth being used by your audience, and if its not them then must be you. Its sad but having to choose between BC runnin outta businees or you is no dilemma at all.

    *You an idealist troubadour who fell in love for the “all-free” philosophy and want things to stay exactly the same as the day the site started? All i can say pal is that i often dream about cold beer waterfalls and vagina trees but deep down i know its just not happening. So stop suggesting they include banner ads to make a profit, the extremely sober design and easy interaction is why many of us use Bandcamp as our main webpage. That move will be much more of a treason to its original purpose than charging for downloads.

    Like i said before BC is the best option and you know it, so you hurting nobody if you decide to leave. Cash rules everything around us… yeah, cold world outside.

  110. Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the feedback everybody! As suggested by several of the commenters, we’re going to refresh everyone’s free download credits every month (so, if you have less than 200 downloads remaining, we’ll just bump you up to 200 again). This still accomplishes our goal of keeping the costs of large-scale free download campaigns where they should be (on the people actually doing them), while also giving early-stage artists room to comfortably get started. Enjoy!

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  1. […] (which Torley is on) is limiting free downloads to have a more profitable business model. I doth understand, wish them ongoing prosperous survival […]

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