There are just over 1 million hours of audio on Bandcamp now (roughly 121 years’ worth), and 34 seconds of audio are uploaded every second. All of that audio is connected to an intricate web of information about artists and fans, making Bandcamp a treasure trove for data nerds. We took a dive into the database to unearth some numbers and lists that we find interesting, and hope you do too.
Global Release Day
In February 2015 the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry declared a Global Release Day, deciding that all music in the world would now be released at 00:01 on Fridays, starting in July 2015. In the past, each country had its own release day tradition: albums were released on Tuesdays in the U.S. and Canada, Mondays in the U.K., Fridays in Australia.
We compared the number of albums released on Fridays in August–October 2014 with the same period this year to see if Bandcamp artists follow the rules. The most reliable way we can divide the data geographically is by currency, so in this case “U.S. albums” means albums with a U.S. dollar price tag.
There has indeed been a marked shift in release day patterns. The most popular day for U.K. album releases has moved from Mondays to Fridays. In the U.K, 26% of albums are now released on a Friday (up from 16% in 2014). The same effect can be seen in other E.U. countries, but to a lesser extent. In the U.S., 22% of albums are now released on a Friday (up from 15% in 2014, when 24% were released on a Tuesday). Friday was always Australia’s release day, so nothing much has changed there.
The shift in spending is even more dramatic: 35% of money spent on both U.K. and U.S. albums is now spent on those released on a Friday (up from 12% in the U.K. and 15% in the U.S. last year). This might be explained by the fact that bands and labels with higher sales numbers and more expensive albums are more likely to be tied into the parts of the music business that take Global Release Day seriously.
We also looked at how sales vary by time of day. In general, each country sells the most music around 8 p.m. in their own time zone and the least between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. But Europeans buy a lot of music by American bands, so sales in U.S. dollars actually peak around noon PST (8 p.m. in the U.K.) and stay high through the afternoon before dropping off later in the evening.
We can’t guarantee that releasing your album at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday will make you more money, or that a Sunday release won’t. We’re neither professional statisticians nor music industry marketing gurus.
The most popular band names on the site are:
- Atlas (69 bands)
- Apollo (48)
- Bloom (34)
- Nomad (33)
- Moon (31)
- Zero (31)
- Ghost (30)
- Haze (30)
- Paradox (30)
- X (30)
Since tweeting about the most popular band names, it seems that the number of bands called “Atlas” on the site has increased at an even higher rate than the historical Atlas Signup Rate (A.S.R.) would have predicted. We can only imagine that the popularity of the name “Atlas” has inspired other artists to adopt it, either as an ironic statement about internet culture or out of a sincere post-ironic respect for the existing Atlases, whose shared moniker reveals the essential sameness of all humans. It’s hard to tell.
Longest album name
With digital releases, artists aren’t subject to the arbitrary limits imposed by physical formats, shelf space, or common sense. They can express themselves freely. And nothing says freedom like an extraordinarily long album title. The longest title of an album that sold at least one copy in 2015 is:
je ramasse la jupe, je ramasse les perles étincelantes ////////////////////// en noir, cette chose qui a bougé une fois autour de chair, et j’appelle Dieu un menteur, je dis n’importe quoi qui a bougé comme cela ou savait mon nom ne pourrait jamais mourir dans la vérité commune de mourir
In case you’re wondering, it’s a French translation of the start of a Bukowski poem, for Jane: with all the love I had, which was not enough:. Honorable mentions in the longest title category must go to this meta-title, this stream of consciousness, and this literary masterpiece.
Bandcampers’ favorite albums
The Bandcamp staff have wildly varying music tastes, so it’s fun to find the connections by looking at the albums that appear in multiple Bandcampers’ collections.
The most staff-collected albums, while excellent, must be excluded from the list in the interest of fairness. Many of us have subscriptions to Candy Says and Germany Germany (both of whom have members who work at Bandcamp) and of course the Bandcamp City Guide (Oakland) is a popular purchase. Excluding those, the top nine most-collected albums by Bandcamp staff are:
- Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes by Thom Yorke
- Into The Trees by Zoe Keating
- F NOTE by TOO MANY ZOOS
- Roll the Bones by Shakey Graves
- Transitions by EL TEN ELEVEN
- Now, More Than Ever (Remastered Edition) by Jim Guthrie
- Fugue State by Vulfpeck
- Dysnomia by Dawn of Midi
- My First Car by Vulfpeck
FACT: The highest amount paid for a single album or merch item is US$1,000, and in 2015 there have been 31 thousand-dollar sales. Four of them were for albums raising money for charity, one was for a band raising money to fix their broken-down tour bus, and one was for a small, plastic rhinoceros with a $1,000 price tag and a note saying “Please do not attempt to purchase.”
FACT: The prize for biggest fan collection goes to Michael, who has (quite incredibly) amassed 3,870 items at the time of this writing.
FACT: Since the European Union changed their rules about Value Added Tax on digital purchases at the start of 2015, we’ve collected V.A.T. from music fans in each of the 28 E.U. countries, and had our fleet of long-distance cormorants deliver 28 variously sized novelty checks to the governments of Europe. The largest checks went to the U.K., Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy. Slovenian, Maltese, and Cypriot music fans were the least active on the site, so their governments got normal-sized checks.
FACT: 1,889 albums were released on April 20 this year. That’s a lot more than average and we can’t be sure why. It’s possible that they were all aiming for Record Store Day (April 18) and missed, or that musicians worldwide were celebrating the birthday of renowned 16th-century theologist Johannes Agricola. Or maybe 4/20 is just a good day to release an album.
We all know that classifying music by genre is outdated, futile, stifling, and impossible. It can also be useful and fun, and makes Discover a much more interesting tool for exploring music. Artists on Bandcamp decide for themselves which high-level genre they want to inhabit, so as you’re enjoying these next top-five lists, bear in mind that they could mean almost anything.
Here are the best-selling genres when you look at the total amount paid in 2015 for releases in a particular genre (e.g., more money was paid for electronic music than for any other genre):
Here are the top five when you sort by the number of bands in a genre that sold something in 2015 (e.g., there are more actively selling rock bands than any other genre of artist):
And here are the top five sorted by the average amount paid to each band in a genre (e.g., podcast artists* made more money, on average, in 2015 than any other genre):
*Yes, that’s a real thing.
The rise (and fall?) of THE HIPSTER TRI∆NGLE
RUFFI∆NKICK was the first band on the site to use the now-classic “all caps with a ∆ for the A” band name style. The craze took a while to get going, but when U.K. indie band alt-J won the Mercury Prize in 2012 and taught everyone how to type it, the hipster triangle started to appear everywhere. 142 B∆NDS signed up in 2013, the most triangular year to date.
Each year musicians have found ever more inventive and exciting ways to write letters using triangles, with the most daring using triangles as abstract shapes with no alphabetical meaning—pure triangle bands. In July 2012 we saw the first band called ∆; in 2014 we noticed ∆••∆••∆ and ∆∆∆. Earlier this year the first quadritriangular band arrived: ∆∆∆∆.
How does a fad like the hipster triangle band name end? Does it just fizzle out? Only last month we were treated to ∇∆∇∆∇∆∇∆∇∆∇∆∇∆, which suggested that band names might eventually degenerate into pretty patterns. But then we remembered the golden rule: no musical fad is truly over until a band called Atlas gets involved.
Oh, look: [∆TL∆S].