Oh No, Not Another Music Community!

Back when we first started working on Bandcamp, we had no desire to create another online music community. Like many fans, we were turned off by the way the noise in those communities often drowned out the thing that matters most: the music. So we decided instead to focus on being the best possible home for that music, setting aside many of the social features that seemed mandatory for any consumer internet startup at the time.

Apparently a lot of you were also suffering from thanks-for-the-add fatigue, because over the past year and a half, artist signups have steadily accelerated, and today we host a large and diverse pool of music. But every Bandcamp-powered site is still an island, and not surprisingly, one of the most frequent questions we now get is “How do I find out about other [industrial mariachi | new-age horrorcore | death ragtime | etc] artists on Bandcamp?”

When there were just a few hundred artists using the system, our answer was “Why on earth do you care?” When there were a few thousand, it was, “Uh, use Google?” But by the time there were tens of thousands, it was clear we were neglecting a big opportunity: the opportunity to leverage the power of every individual artist’s site to help fans discover new music — your music.

So we sat down and pondered whether there was a way to seize that opportunity without completely screwing up the good thing we had going. Could we somehow activate this large, dormant community while keeping the integrity of every Bandcamp site intact? We think the answer is an emphatic YES, but we’ll describe how it works, and then you can decide for yourself and let us know.

Starting today, you can specify your genre and location, and tag up your tracks and albums with relevant keywords, and fans can browse all the music on Bandcamp by those attributes. You set genre and location in the Account Details section of your Profile page, right here:

Note that location is geocoded, meaning every artist on Bandcamp will have a real location. Stuff like “Mars,” “stepdad’s garage,” “back of beyond,” and “the ionosphere” is fun and all, but only puts you at a disadvantage in terms of fan discovery. So here you enter your city, state, province or country (even misspellings are AOK), and we map that to a discrete, browsable location.

Tags are set on the individual edit pages for both tracks and albums, here:

and finally those tags are displayed on your track and album pages, just below your cover art, here:

When a fan clicks one of those tags, they’re taken to its page, where we show other music by you with that tag, as well as a sortable list of music across the system with that tag:

By clicking the “browse all tags” link, fans can browse by popular tags and locations, like this:

And that’s about it. Pretty simple and obvious really, but we think it has the potential to build a community in the best possible sense of the word, where every individual contributes to its strength. It won’t, of course, be built overnight. At the time of this writing, there are exactly zero tags in the system, but with your help (and the help of the screaming yellow nag-bar that you’ll see next time you log in), it shouldn’t be long before the solitary goal of these new features is realized: make every artist on Bandcamp more successful, by making it easier for fans to find you.

P.S. Search is coming soon.

P.P.S. If you’re one of the many generous artists who have recently released Haiti relief fundraising records, please tag your album with “Haiti relief” and we’ll promote the centralized tag page for it shortly.

62 thoughts on “Oh No, Not Another Music Community!

  1. Any chance of the following tag?


    We’re in the process of setting up a Bandcamp page for an online collective, featuring artists from around the world.


  2. Thanks for this, guys! I agree. I don’t want this to turn into a MySpace flop. I love BandCamp for that reason. But I like the idea that we could link up similar artists so that people can find many artists who are creating music in a genre that they like.

  3. Just echoing what a couple of other people have said..

    I’d prefer the idea of tags being more ‘behind-the-scenes’ … so people could search by genre from the bandcamp home page but not necessarily from individual artist pages.

    It’s an aesthetic thing more than anything else.. we’d rather not have a list of genres written under our album covers.. looks kind of like we’re stating the obvious and detracts from one of the most attractive things about bandcamp – ie the way it can seamlessly integrate into the artist’s own website. The inclusion of tags make it look like the user has just been redirected to a different music site.

    Would be nice if there was an option to not display tags on album pages…

    Just my honest opinion, otherwise, keep up the good work! 🙂

  4. I just want to say what a find Bandcamp is. I’ve ditched all our other music downloads and CD e-commerce pages and replaced it all with a bandcamp subdomain of http://music.arbelos.eu

    This is terrific – it’s so well thought out from both the artist’s view and from the listener.

    Well done, Bandcamp.

  5. A great new feature. I’ve gotten some new downloads from people I didn’t know since you made this feature. Thanks!

    The new ‘index’ feature is smelling great and I’m about to try it out. Keep up the great work!

  6. Hello; also a BC band here. I didn’t have time to read every single post re: tags, so forgive me if this has been discussed somewhere else, but (we’re lovin’ the site overall, so please don’t take this as a complaint, but constructive criticism/feature request…) was disappointed about one thing:

    Why limit the number of tags to 5? It seems constraining. I understand the concept; some people go nuts with it and it makes it hard to classify and also easy for deception (i.e., you’re a rock band, you want lots of plays from people with diverse tastes, so you might tag…mmm..”Country Rap” and see if you can snag a few eclectic new fans with slightly eccentric, zealously diverse musical taste. But 5, though? Where’d that number come from? I can’t describe my band’s sound with 5 words. Seriously, we have about 21 recorded tracks that we’re considering uploading (currently in the stage of learning to navigate the site, trust it, get involved, etc. etc. before we u/l all our tracks here, particularly what we consider to be our top 8-10), and right off the bat, I could describe as rock, grunge, instrumental, metal, noise, alternative…and that only gets me to 6, being totally honest with description.

    Yeah, I know there’s track tagging (totally agree with the opinions here that it’s a vitally important and awesome feature, and I’m about to find out if there’s a limit once this big .wav file finishes uploading), but…really, my band is pretty eclectic and 5 seems like an inadequate number of tags, and we don’t have inadequacy issues in our band – we’re horses! No, really, that’s our upcoming release’s artwork (a side profile of the face of a mean-looking stallion with ears pinned back flat, tattered mane, red eyes, snorting smoke and looking pissed off, and no it’s not cliche; once you see it, you’ll agree it’s bad-ass, and it’s not a cartoon horse either, just slight artistic liberties to liven up the ‘action’ with the snorting and eye-redding, etc..we nicked the template from an old ad for Winstrol-V in my 1989 Equus magazine and made appropriate modifications to make him look intense, to personalize it and mashed up/enhanced the image to avoid copyright issues)…OK, way too much information, I know. However, would you consider bumping up the band tags to at least 10?

    I know being concise is good, but we don’t want to be constrained with a limit that seems a little arbitrary (even though I’m sure you did put careful consideration into it; I’m just advocating strongly for my opinion). I’m about to find out how the album/track tags work with limits and such, but we’d like to pop up on a few relevant tag searches, because we think the Kroakers would appeal to a number of different communities. We don’t overtag, since we a) don’t want to waste time catching the attention of people who’ll be pissed off and block us out when they’re looking for a specific sound, and 2) that’s the point of ‘targeting’ (hate that word)–to catch people in your niche, who’re sharing the same vein (so to speak).

    Perhaps the track tagging will be adequate, but anything you can give us that’s not too much trouble to change for you guys, that the community can agree upon, is good. Can I get a 10?

    Thanks for putting up with my verbose post,
    Mic Morose

  7. just wanted to say i really love bandcamp, it really helps me, i cant think of any other place that is so handy, i really do love how minimal this place is, its nice not having to worry about getting coments, friends, ect.

    keep it up, i cant wait to see what the future holds for this wonderful place

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