Bandcamp, Downloads, Streaming, and the Inescapably Bright Future

In light of a recent report that Apple will soon abandon music downloads (later denied, but undoubtedly containing a certain amount of inevitability), we thought we’d take a moment to update you on the state of Bandcamp’s business and our plans for the future.

Bandcamp grew by 35% last year. Fans pay artists $4.3 million dollars every month using the site, and they buy about 25,000 records a day, which works out to about one every 4 seconds (you can see a real-time feed of those purchases on our desktop home page). Nearly 6 million fans have bought music through Bandcamp (half of whom are younger than 30), and hundreds of thousands of artists have sold music on Bandcamp. Digital album sales on Bandcamp grew 14% in 2015 while dropping 3% industry-wide, track sales grew 11% while dropping 13% industry-wide, vinyl was up 40%, cassettes 49%… even CD sales grew 10% (down 11% industry-wide). Most importantly of all, Bandcamp has been profitable (in the now-quaint revenues-exceed-expenses sense) since 2012.

Subscription-based music streaming,* on the other hand, has yet to prove itself to be a viable model, even after hundreds of millions of investment dollars raised and spent. For our part, we are committed to offering an alternative that we know works. As long as there are fans who care about the welfare of their favorite artists and want to help them keep making music, we will continue to provide that direct connection. And as long as there are fans who want to own, not rent, their music, that is a service we will continue to provide, and that is a model whose benefits we will continue to champion. We have been here since 2008 and we mean to be here in 2028. Thank you!

*Bandcamp is not a download store, and we very much embrace the convenience of streaming. When you buy music on Bandcamp, whether that’s in digital or physical form (30% of sales on Bandcamp are for vinyl and other merchandise), you not only get the pleasure of knowing you’re supporting the artist in a direct and transparent way, you also get instant, unlimited streaming of that music via our free apps for Android and iOS, as well as an optional, high-quality download. Your purchase is about direct support, ownership and access, whether that access takes the form of a stream, download, or both. So please consider joining us in never using “streaming” as shorthand for “subscription-based music.” The former is an inevitable technological shift, the latter is an unproven business model.

295 thoughts on “Bandcamp, Downloads, Streaming, and the Inescapably Bright Future

  1. Keep up the good work! Bandcamp fills a need for both the consumer of music that would otherwise be hard to find and also for the artist by making the music available to fans who seek it out. And most importantly, it makes it easy to financially support non-commercial musicians so they may continue to make wonderful music.

  2. I love that I can buy vinyl, and get a LOSSLESS download with it, that’s the best thing ever! You’re my favourite music site.

  3. I really love the ability to purchase FLAC files. This is an opportunity that has been missed by other music sites in their short-sighted rush to provide inferior mp3s.

    I love BC, and it will always be a major source of purchased music for me. I really love knowing that I am supporting artists directly.

    Keep on keeping on.

  4. I love this and agree completely. I am totally rooting for Bandcamp to win over Spotify and its competitors in the long run. However, from a user’s perspective right now Spotify seems to be killing it with their discovery (like the personalized “Spotify Weekly”), social features (always know what your friends with the best music taste are listening to), sharing (instantly share/save any playlist you find), the interface to build playlists, the music listening interface overall… I realize some of these things can’t be replicated 1-to-1 with Bandcamp’s model, but they are pretty darn compelling and BC needs to offer more to compete on a massive scale.

    Or maybe not… if the Bandcamp team is happy growing at 35% per year, then just keep up the good work guys!! I just hope they can gain enough leverage over time to shift the entire industry.

  5. Thank you so much for your stance. I use streaming but I don’t get the “kids” that live off it. I lived off the radio and waiting for a song to come on and it sucked. And I get you can make playlist and go cherry-picking on streaming but I am lazy and don’t want to do it. Plus I still have PTSD from early versions of itunes wiping out my whole library and having to reload it ALL so I like having a hard copy. But the main thing for me is sometimes a person is on a plane, in a valley or in a dead-zone or the downstairs bathroom of a family member and streaming just isn’t an option.

  6. Over the last few years I have purchased a few random albums off of bandcamp without really knowing what the site was about. I just bought albums here if some artist that I follow elsewhere posted a link to their album here.

    In the last few weeks I’ve been reorganizing my music collection, and spent a lot more time figuring out just exactly what was going on with this site that I had downloaded a half-dozen albums from. And the more I check things out here, the happier I am with the way bandcamp works. It was particularly nice that the first few albums I bought, I had downloaded as mp3’s. Here I came back years later (and when I had a *lot* more disk space on my computer), and I could download the same albums as FLAC or AppleLossless. Very nice.

    So I’m certainly happy to hear that business is doing well for bandcamp, and that the artists who use bandcamp continue to get paid directly for each album sold.

  7. It’s actually super easy to get pirated musics, but, I still buy them if I am able to afford, just to support the artists.

    But for why I choose Bandcamp, well, because it’s almost the only region-free music store awailable online, and region-locked music stores are usually blocking China? Plus, Bandcamp provides FLAC and I sometimes can get some extra content from the artist, which really make me feel like actually purchasing an album, rather than subscribing for the right to listen to the music.

  8. Congratulations! And of course a big thank you to all who provide all the wonderful music and who supports all the artists!

    I’m a person who only buys digital music. I hate streaming because the music is not everywhere available because of lacks in the mobile internet for example and of course you need a lot of data volume which can be expensive and it realy sucks the power out of your battery if you are not at home. This is bullshit. I buy only digital music and download in multiple times on all my devices (and at work). But I would never give the music to someone else.

  9. Oh there is one additional thing I want to say about the Android App: Sorry girls and guys but it’s only OK, it’s not really good. At least on my phone it’s working very buggy – it crashes often. And I’m really missing a basket. And I’m also missing the offers some bands provide (xx % for the whole discography). It seems for me very incomplete.

  10. I can only add to the praises, BC is great. Maybe the user interface and the artist page could be better( better possibilities to change layout/design) but as a business model it’s great.

  11. Why do I love Bandcamp? 3 reasons: (1) I still like a physical CD – (2) But you also get instant digital downloads – (3) the main reason – as much money as possible goes direct to the bands. I’ve found so many bands over the last 5 years who had to call it a day too soon. I feel like I’m on a bit of a mission to keep these bands going! Only downside? You guys are costing me a small fortune (only joking!) but it’s a fortune I’ll quite happily spend ten times over. Off now to order another album.

  12. love the bc … goes to show that we thrive when culture is valued and those that create the slices of marble cake, semiotically speaking, will be taken care of when those that do no more than eat those slices are sick from eating too much

  13. I’ve long been a fan of Bandcamp and had music here for many years. But I’m also very much a fan of subscription streaming. My (very reasonably priced, new-model) aggregator (kind of rhymes with Frisco Kid [cough]) allows me as a content creating musician to service both the general market (streaming, major online stores) and BandCamp allows a custom, far more ‘personalized’ approach to more directly servicing the needs of fans. Through BC, I can sell specialized content, ‘HD’ audio,’ and provide quick purchase and other access to my latest tracks, in a much more flexible, personalized way that flatters fans.

  14. Hold out, never sold out.
    Keep up the good work!
    -James
    Ninkasi Studios
    Top Secret Productions

  15. This is exactly what I predicted to happen, & now its blantantly obvious. Bandcamp allows you to download Flac files which is thee closest to studio quality file you can get. Not only are artists able to sell physical copies with digital, but merch as well. Bandcamp is thee perfect music model & site & will be taking over the game since they’ve done it correctly. Cheers to Bandcamp onward to success.

  16. Well done guys. You deserve every success you get. Don’t change. I look forward to a long a happy relationship.

  17. I love this blog post. I love Bandcamp. I’ve been a proud user for a few years now and will remain one even until 2028. I’m so pleased to see you guys digging into your roots with these beliefs, because I whole-heartedly agree with everything you preach. The subscription-based future isn’t my ideal. I love being able to support artists directly while gaining unrestricted access to the body of work I am purchasing. No need to connect to any internet to avoid further fees for using data or any of that mumbo jumbo. To see that you guys share in these sentiments is incredibly fulfilling because with that vision we will boldly venture into the unknown as a community of people who both respect the art and understand that the artists themselves deserve the reward for their tireless efforts.

  18. Finally, an influential company that has the intestinal fortitude and ethics to stand up to streaming services. Subscription streaming devalues artistic expression, it’s like turning a record store into a ‘yard sale for music’ store.

    Support your favorite bands by buying their music and attributing actual value to their hard work. Otherwise, a lot of those go-to bands in your library may throw in the towel and work 9 to 5’s.

  19. I am happy to read such positive comments about Bandcamp. I signed up a few years ago and really wasn’t that ready to sell music. I had to get out of the old way of thinking about music distribution. I hope to be able to take full advantage of the site and it’s potential for helping me to succeed in this business. thanks for helping so many realize their dreams.

  20. Absolutely love you guys. Keep doin what you are doin. From someone who has several bands on here, from all do us we can’t thank you enough. And of course as consumers too!

  21. Thank _you_!

    For what it’s worth, I have interest in neither subscription-based music services nor streaming. I am very happy storing my music on several devices and being able to listen to it without requiring or polluting the network unnecessarily.

  22. I am another one of your over 50 Bandcamp users. I love it and won’t stop being a customer and supporter. All I ask is that you notify all of your account holders of any plans you may have in the future of going public. My husband and I would be happy to buy stock in a company like this and I would encourage our adult children to do the same. We are not high on the stock market, but we do like to support businesses we believe in and that contribute to the world – supporting artist is definitely a good way to do this.

  23. Thanks to you indie music and artists get to have a career in music and fans get access to a world of music they might never have stumbled upon! It’s a wonderful win/win/win for everyone! Thank you for caring about music and humans! Great job Bandcamp!

  24. As long as I’m always able to download a copy in case something happens to my copy in my music library (and thus my music players), then I’m happy. Keep up the great work, Bandcamp. 🙂

  25. Bandcamp is a new world of music. All pre conceptions about genres or how the music should sound are set a side. No fame or glamour, just music and the real people that make it. I wish I had more free time to discover more and more new artists. Thanks! Congrats! Best wishes for the Bandcamp community <3

  26. So many bands I never would have know about, gotten to enjoy music from, or help support. Bandcamp is the greatest thing to happen to music since instruments.

    Google Play music and bandcamp work perfectly together. I’m data-conscious so when I see a band has released something on bandcamp, I check Google music and a rather surprising near 80% of the time it’s there. I pin it to my device while on wifi and listen to it at work. Maybe I think it’s just okay and I pass. But more often than not I come back here, even though I already have the album, and pay for it through Bandcamp.

    Then, nearly as often, I go either through bandcamp or wherever else the artist is selling merchandise and buy CDs, t-shirts, hoodies, even vinyls (because some cover art just begs to be displayed as big and as bodly as possible). I never would have bothered with any of this with the model the record companies and major labels were trying to push for so long. They have failed. And to put it plain and simple, Bandcamp is the future and the future is here!

  27. whatever you do bandcamp, please (( don’t )) sell.
    this place is perfect how it is.
    good tunes, no clutter, no intrusion.

  28. Bandcamp seems to be a modern version of the old MP3.com from the late 90s early 2000s. It is a fantastic outlet for the independent artist. I truly hope they don’t mess with a good thing as the years go by.

    I’ve already witnessed one degradation… where they have shortened the window of time that sales/plays effect the statistics. The new version is probably great for genres that are more popular and bigger selling, but it has an adverse effect for the less popular genres that have fewer sales. It really should scale based on the sales potential of a genre.

  29. You guys are great and that was a great article, congrats and I wish success on your business.

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