Once more unto the mailbag:
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve randomly found new artists that I like but wasn’t ready to make a music purchase. If I had a fan account it would make it a heck of a lot easier for me to go back and revisit those artists and buy their material. Nothing too intrusive, I would hate for you guys to go all Myspace on us. You could also allow fans to see the albums that other fans have purchased, and this would help spread the word about good music virally.”
Good news: we’ve been working on exactly that (and then some). Today we’re giving fans the ability to showcase their Bandcamp music collections, follow their favorite artists, explore the music of like-minded fans, add items to a wishlist, and more. In developing these features, we’ve been guided by one overriding objective: grow revenue for artists while keeping the core Bandcamp experience as simple and clean as possible. Here’s how it all works:
“I’ve always enjoyed raiding Bandcamp for new music and the fact that it now displays it all on the collection page like little trophies is ace. Makes me dead proud of actually paying for music.”
– Josh U.
Every fan gets a dedicated collection page where they can show off the music that they’ve purchased via Bandcamp (here’s a particularly excellent example 😉 ). Fans can pick their favorite tracks, write a few words about why they like each record, customize the look and layout of their collection, and share the whole thing with other fans, who can then play through and purchase the music themselves. In short, collection pages turn every fan into a promoter of the artists they love. They’re beautiful, work great on mobile, and in the short time they’ve been in limited beta have already driven thousands of new sales to artists.
Fans can follow other fans, meaning they’ll be notified whenever those fans collect new music. (These notifications currently happen via a digest email, and we’ll add a feed option soon.) Fans can discover interesting people to follow in a few different ways. First, when viewing their own collection page, a fan will see a list of suggested fans. Second, when viewing any item on any collection page, a fan can see a list of who else bought that item and what they had to say about it, and then go exploring those fans’ collections (warning: this is seriously addictive). Third, when a fan buys something that they discovered via another fan’s collection, we send the original fan a congratulatory email, so they can a) strut around the rest of the day feeling chuffed and b) explore the full collection of the fan whose life they’ve just changed for the better. Finally, fans can discover one another via artists’ album and track pages. But that deserves a section of its own…
“Just realized that this Bandcamp fan thing in effect incentivises people to pay for music as social display/status. A good thing.”
Back on Bandcamp artist pages, there are a few subtle but important changes. The first of these is the “supported by” section, which displays thumbnails of the fans who bought that record. These are, first and foremost, fun to explore (“I wonder who else bought this, and what other music they’ve collected”), but they also act as an important additional incentive for a fan to make a purchase, since a) it means their face appears on the sites of their favorite artists, and b) it promotes their own collection, since clicking any fan’s thumbnail navigates to their collection page. By default we show a single row of the latest purchasers, but you can expand that to see all the supporters, and read what they had to say about the record (the artist also has the option to remove any of these they wish).
Also below the cover art there’s a new wishlist link (only visible to logged-in fans). Clicking it adds the item to the wishlist section of a fan’s collection page, so they can come back and purchase it later.
Fans can also now follow their favorite artists, meaning they’ll get a notification from Bandcamp whenever that artist releases new music (following also adds the fan to the artist’s mailing list). The fan can either click the follow button on an artist page (like the wishlist link, only visible to logged-in fans), or simply make a purchase, which makes them follow the artist automatically.
So how does one get a Bandcamp fan account?
It’s easy: buy something and we invite you. If you’ve already made purchases through Bandcamp, visit http://bandcamp.com/fans and follow the instructions there.
I already have a Bandcamp artist account, can I sign up for a fan account too?
Yes. If you’d like your artist and fan account to be one and the same (so there’s no logging out of one and in to the other nonsense), make sure you’re logged in to your artist account, and then either a) go buy some music, or b) if you’ve already purchased music, proceed directly to sign up.
Anything I need to do as an artist?
No, but if you tell your fans (the ones who have supported you through Bandcamp, that is) to sign up for their free account, then you’ll have more people with more collection pages promoting your music.
I’m sensing that there’s some deeper motivation at work here. Is there?
Just over a year ago, the internet was abuzz with the concept of “frictionless sharing”: watch a video, read an article, or play some music, and the activity is automatically shared with your friends. I hated the idea (rightly and eloquently panned by Farhad Manjoo as killing taste), and we set out to create its opposite. Bandcamp for fans is a social music discovery system based on the high-friction concept of ownership. If someone simply listens to a song, I frankly don’t care at all. And if someone listens to a song and then burns .01 calories tapping a Like button… well that’s slightly more interesting, but I still don’t care much. However, if someone is passionate enough about a record to spend money on it – to actually support the artist who made it, and perhaps even write a bit about why they love it – that makes me much more likely listen to that record, and perhaps add it to my collection as well.
This high-friction approach to sharing works. During our beta, fans who created accounts increased their spending by 40% on average, and the small test group now drives as many sales to artists as all Twitter traffic to all Bandcamp sites combined. If this is surprising, it won’t be once you’ve experienced how much fun it is to browse through people’s collections. It’s a bit like you’re at a party, hear a track you like, ask the host about it, and then they say “oh, if you like that you have to listen to this and this,” and they’re right there telling you why, and every track and album becomes a portal into another person’s party/collection. It’s a blast.
You’re still here? It’s over. Go home. Go. Jeesh, OK. Then we’re going to make you read a tiny sample of what our beta testers have been saying:
“trying out the @bandcamp fan account. this is gonna seriously dent my wallet” –@atlumschema
“I love the look of the fan page and imagine it’s going to amp up my purchase rate 100x.” –Michael E.
“the new-release-by and new-music-purchased-by emails are coming close to rivaling the Experimedia mailing list for their DANGEROUSNESS TO MY WALLET.” –Mike R.
“Ok, you really found a way to make me spend more money on your site, way more money, which I’m totally ok with because I love good music and I love your model. I’ve been browsing other collections and finding great stuff.” –David M.
“I’m totally in love, it’s absolutely awesome. I’m now finding tonnes of new bands a second; terrible for my bank balance but otherwise great!” –Josh U.
“brilliant idea! reckon sales are gonna grow fast & your artists will be the benefactors.” –Jonathan B.
“Thank you for making a great resource even better. The new fan page is fully appreciated and brilliantly executed. My morning is already disappearing in other people’s collections. Keep doing what you’re doing!” –Barry Q.
“Just wanted to say that I love the new account feature! Like Bandcamp in general, the whole thing is unpretentious and really about the music.” –Joe S.
“The new fan account feature is amazing. So much of my time is devoted to finding new music and artists, and this setup completely streamlines this and I’m able to quickly find new material to fall in love with. Bandcamp was already my favourite way to buy music and support artists, and it’s just become better. Nice one.” –Michael M.
“i have been telling everyone about the brilliant new fan accounts, i think they want me to shut up now. but i am seriously impressed with the idea. the thought crossed my mind to re-purchase music i had bought elsewhere JUST so it would be on my profile. crazy right?? and it also made me think that i would want to make ALL my future music purchases through bandcamp when possible…just to make my profile more complete. so there ya go, props for brilliance. and for creating such an awesome place for musicians to get their music heard AND NOW for the fans to be a part of it.” –Laura B.
“Bandcamp is the best thing that has happened to music since the iPod. I love that you are adding a social element, and I look forward to seeing comments from others and checking out collections of others with similar tastes.” –Paul G.
“I feel that you are offering a direct relationship to the artists without trying to clone/integrate the social network nonsense. It’s all about music and that’s what you understand best. I am so excited to be treated as a fan, not a consumer.” –Arnaud M.
“You guys are doing exactly what I think is important for the music industry. Whenever I discover an artist, I check Bandcamp first. Whenever I talk to artists, I ask why they don’t have a Bandcamp. I’d keep gushing but I have work. Thank you. THANK you!” –Scott R.
“Love the new fan sites. It’s exactly what I’ve been saying was needed! Thanks for doing it – it’s going to benefit both fans and musicians so much!” –Aidan S.
“Really excited about what you’ve got going on here. A place for people who actually care about music to share their passion with both other like-minded individuals and the artists they love. I’m really excited for what is to come! Keep it up! Your vision is coming together!”
“Great job on the new fan pages, they truly are revolutionary.” –Ryan G.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible this new beta is. I’ve been a fan (pun intended) of Bandcamp for years, and this just makes it all that much better.” –Ken K.
“This is awesome! I was so hoping you would do something like this and I am ecstatic that you did!” –Will H.
“Thanks for building a service that makes my life better. This new feature is a very welcome addition to Bandcamp, and I think it’ll make for a much richer experience. Wishlist is worth the price of admission alone.” –Dirk B.
“I just wanted to congratulate you on the new fan profile feature on Bandcamp. As usual, you guys just get it.” –Andy R.
“Oh wow, I’m in absolute love with @Bandcamp’s new ‘Fan account’ thing. Thanks for the beta invite, lovelies. http://bandcamp.com/colorization” –@robokick
“I’m thankful for @bandcamp fan pages. These are so awesome.” –@emilyhogan
“Well, @bandcamp took notice. Fan pages, and they’re sweet. Even recognized all my purchases in one shot. Support the artists people!” –@pasarin
“Just made a @bandcamp fan account. I like where this is going. One of my fav sites. All about the music/musicians! http://bandcamp.com/ryanmaksymic” –@ryanmaksymic
“Really digging the new Bandcamp Fan feature. Happy to see the site grow in this direction. http://bandcamp.com/seanmcg” –@seanmcg
“Holy shit, bandcamp fan accounts. Bandcamp is unstoppable.” –@DigitalPatrat
“Damn. This new Bandcamp fan account functionality has everything I’ve been wanting.” –@compactrobot
“Absolutely loving the new @Bandcamp “fan pages”. A history of music you’ve bought through Bandcamp, shared for friends: http://bit.ly/Y3XmK5” –@bradleysalmanac
“Stoked @bandcamp finally launched fan profiles! Best source for music from independent artists. Check out my library: http://bandcamp.com/evanbenner” –@EvanBenner
“super excited about new @bandcamp fan accounts 🙂 been wanting these for a long time. http://bandcamp.com/apopagasm” –@_kevinallen
“@DarkHorse_Audio SO loving the new Bandcamp fan pages! What a wicked way to find new music. Followed you there :)” –@InsidiousGhost