Everything is Terrific: The Bandcamp 2016 Year in Review

Bandcamp 2016 Year In Review

Bandcamp 2016 Year In Review

And now some genuinely great news in an otherwise unremarkable week: every aspect of Bandcamp’s business was up in 2016. Digital album sales grew 20%, tracks 23%, and merch 34%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl, which was up 48%, and further boosted by CDs (up 14%) and cassettes (up 58%). Every single one of these numbers represents an acceleration over last year’s growth. Hundreds of thousands of artists joined Bandcamp in 2016, more than 2,000 independent labels came on board (like Dischord, Merge, and Dualtone), and the rate of fan signups tripled. Fans have now paid artists nearly $200 million using Bandcamp, and they buy a record every three seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The record business overall did not fare as well. According to Nielsen, it grew 3% in the U.S. in 2016, while sales of digital albums fell 20%, tracks were down 25%, and physical albums dropped 14%. These declines are not at all surprising given the industry-wide push toward subscription music rental offerings, and indeed as the year came to a close, those services reached a combined 100 million paying subscribers. This milestone is being celebrated by some, but it is not good news for the vast majority of artists, and poses some serious problems for fans, labels, and music as an art form.

As more people subscribe to music rental services, the already paltry rates paid to artists are going down (and no, artists don’t necessarily make it up in volume). But it’s not only artists who are struggling. The companies built solely around subscription music rental continue to struggle as well. Some say the model is simply broken. The success of Netflix is often used as a counterargument, but the music business is not the movie business.

Longer term, if subscription music rental can’t work as a standalone business, then it will only exist as a service offered by corporate behemoths to draw customers into the parts of their businesses where they do make money, like selling phones, service plans, or merchandise. And when the distribution of an entire art form is controlled by just two or three nation-state-sized companies, artists and labels will have even less leverage than they do now to set fair rates, the music promoted to fans will be controlled by a small handful of gatekeepers, and more and more artists will be hit with the one-two punch of lower rates and less exposure. The net effect for music as a whole is worrisome.

Bandcamp provides an alternative to all of this because we feel strongly that an alternative needs to exist. The fact that we continue to grow, and that that growth is accelerating, tells us that many of you agree. We’ll therefore continue to build on a model that compensates artists fairly and puts them in control of their data, gives fans all the convenience of streaming plus the benefits of ownership and still allows them to directly support the artists they love, and works as a standalone business that’s 100% focused on music (we just had our 17th straight profitable quarter, while also increasing our staff by 43% last year). Impending thermonuclear apocalypse notwithstanding, we are incredibly enthusiastic about 2017. At least two of the half dozen things we’ll launch this year will astound you, and one may even cause you to make an unexpected vacation detour. We can’t wait. Thank you for being a part of it!

-Ethan Diamond

P.S. Don’t miss Bandcamp Daily’s Best of 2016.

174 thoughts on “Everything is Terrific: The Bandcamp 2016 Year in Review

  1. Happy New Year. Looking forward to new sounds and new bands. Bring it on and thank you for sharing this year. A very loyal fan, Philip 😏

  2. An open platform not a closed one will last! Buy a track and get all formats plus streaming and honest paying of artists is the way to go! Honest and open, keep it up and improving.

  3. Love Bandcamp! What an awesome way to discover so much new music. The major labels only represent a tiny percent of the talent that has yet to be discovered. Being able to listen to full tracks, gives the listener a full taste of the artist’s style and in the end compels them to make a purchase. I have discovered so much new music and am now a repeat buyer. Way to go Bandcamp!

  4. I discovered Bandcamp not more than a year ago whilst craving access to a wider variety of alternative music that mainstream services were not providing without strings attached. What a breath of fresh air Bandcamp is !!!!. So much excellent music and talent out there that never gets the audience it deserves. Combined with the flexibility you provide for the customer it makes for such a good site and platform. Thank you Bandcamp !!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Love your work team .. while the telcos can fight over what subscriptions services to bundle for free .. I can spend real money on services like Bandcamp that provide what I really want.

    Really looking forward to seeing some Chromecast action. Have a great 2017 team .. look forward to using the service more this year.

  6. Love you Bandcamp and that’s well deserved ! But I also hope you’ll make good use of your 10% comm. of the $200 million and develop some more features specially regarding the sales and shipments of merch 😉

  7. Glad somebody had a good year 🙂 Thanks for bringing music to people all over the world, it’s one of the few positive things!

  8. “Bandcamp provides an alternative to all of this because we feel strongly that an alternative needs to exist.”
    And you provided a convincing argument that we should all feel strongly as well. I’m extremely grateful for your service. Thank you.

  9. Thank you guys for your work! Which help our faith and enthusiasm to keep on turning in these strange times.

    Keep rockin’!

  10. Bandcamp is the best music store ever. I just refuse to buy anywhere else but on Bandcamp now. Here’s hoping for a bright future for you guys, you deserve it! Keep it up! 🙂

  11. Yes.. Bandcamp is such a good resource for fans like me. Honestly Ive found/supported more music than i can even digest . Keep up the great work.
    Def would repeat some of the other sentiments, more analytics, maybe some improved player w/ waveform, maybe option to randomize your entire fan collection would be cool,
    love ya’ – saltfeend

  12. There’s really only 2 ways that I will buy my music these days, either direct from the band/artist (gigs, pledges, crowdfunding, etc.) or from Bandcamp. Already switched a couple of mates last year onto your site.

  13. Congrats! You are by far the best place to buy music (and merch) from and support artists/labels…love you! Wish you all the best in years to come! 😀

  14. A friend of my Mom said “Surely your son has (stolen) MP3s?” and my Mom got to say “No, actually, he doesn’t.” My Mom got to look really good then. 🙂

  15. I don’t even look anywhere else for new music these days. Bandcamp is the best thing since Marshall amps.

  16. Nice work Bandcamp! Any chance you could develop a high-deff mass-market turntable and sell it at cost to drive vinyl sales? I really hope the boom in vinyl will be sustained. I think some consumers are unsure of how to go back to analog to play their records, or they play the tunes via streaming whilst the physical copy languishes in their collection, which exists more like ‘backup’ and rarely gets played. The new technics turntables are a great start to reinvigorate the format but there is a real gap for some affordable alternatives. Thanks again for all your hard work! 🙂

  17. No DRM, fair for artists, FLAC format, can listen to a whole album before buying it… Bandcamp is the perfect music website! Keep up the good work guys! 🙂

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