It’s a Business Model!

In the past six months, you guys have used Bandcamp to sell over $1 million USD in music and merch directly to your fans. The pace of those sales is increasing rapidly, and last week we even saw an artist make it to the Billboard charts on the strength of her Bandcamp sales alone. It’s been awesome to witness, and we’re amped to carry right on, full steam ahead, building out new features, honing existing ones, strengthening our infrastructure, and generally making things better and better. Perhaps most importantly though, we want to do so in a way that’s sustainable long-term, and ensures that we’re here supporting musicians far into the future.

So, as long promised over in our FAQ, we’ll soon begin doing a revenue share on Bandcamp sales. Here’s how it will work:

Bandcamp’s share will be 15% of each transaction, dropping to 10% as soon as your all-time sales exceed $5,000 USD.

The revenue share won’t go into effect until early August. Until then, Bandcamp’s share remains zero. We’ve based the percentages on what works for the business and what many of you have already told us feels fair, but there’s still plenty of time for more feedback, so bring it (preferably in the comments below).

The revenue share rate for existing accounts will be based on all your sales to date. That is, we’ll look at your all-time sales and base your rate on that total. This means many of you will start at the 10% rate from day one. Note that we’ve just launched all-time stats, so you can easily see where you stand.

Your rate will be based on sales to your PayPal email address, not your Bandcamp account. In other words, if you’re a label and have five artists all using the same PayPal account, your rate will be calculated by looking at the combined sales of all five of those artists.

The basic service will remain free. Bandcamp only makes money when you make money. We considered building the business around advertising, but…well, OK, we never really considered that. We did consider building it around subscriptions, but under the subscription model, given the option of either developing a feature to increase your sales by 20%, or dinking around with service tiers to try to boost our subscriptions by 20%, we’d have to choose the latter. By building the business on a revenue share, our interests are perfectly aligned with yours: we only succeed when you succeed.

Questions, Answers

How will the revenue share work? We’re still hashing out the exact mechanism, but the money will continue to flow directly from your fans to you. Loads of you have told us how much you like that aspect of the service, so we’re planning to leave it that way. We’ll of course provide an interface for easily viewing all your transactions and the associated share split, and we’ll provide details of how the share will work by the time it goes into effect.

Do these rates include PayPal transaction fees? No, processing fees are separate. Those rates are here, including details of what you can do to minimize them.

How do your rates compare to the alternatives? We aim to give you a clear financial incentive to direct your fans to your Bandcamp-powered site first, so we’ve made our rates far lower than iTunes’, and very competitive with other music distribution sites. We won’t subject you to one of those competitive matrices that’s out of date the moment it’s published, but we certainly encourage you to do some research and compare (but pack your magnifying glass, fine print abounds in the music biz).

I am angry. What should I do? Leave a comment, we’d be happy to consider your feedback. If you are angrier than that, head over to your profile page and click the link that says “permanently delete this account.”

I am happy. What should I do? We’d love to hear from you as well, so please leave your thoughts below.

I desire an inspirational conclusion. What should I do? Read on, because we want to thank you all again for using Bandcamp. We’re honored to have been entrusted with such an important aspect of your career, and we couldn’t be more excited to keep cranking away on Bandcamp for a long time to come!

Update July 21st, 2010

Lots of great feedback in the comments, thanks everybody! A few thoughts, tweaks and clarifications in response:

Several of you suggested that new accounts should get their first $x in sales rev-share-free. We’re looking at the business impact of doing so, but also mulling over the fact that the cost of trying out the system is already $0 (no setup or listing fees, no charges for streaming or storage, every account comes with free download codes, etc.).

Some felt that the lower rev-share for high volume sellers was unfair to the little guy. We see your point, and may offer a Pro service option to high volume sellers instead. If you think you might fall into that category, please get in touch — we’d love your help defining what that option could look like.

For physical items, the revenue share will apply to the base price of the item only. It will not apply to shipping or tax.

While we’re still in the rev share’s early days, the rate on physical items will be discounted to 10%. It will eventually be the same 15% share as digital, but we want to get a few more of our e-commerce features done first. A few people wondered why there would be a revenue share on physical at all. The short answer is that Bandcamp is a music retailer. We believe that listening to music is critical to selling music, and the infrastructure to support that (web servers, bandwidth, actual customer care, etc.) is factored into our costs. Furthermore, we’ve already invested in a boatload of features to help you sell your music, features like download formats, sharing tools, stats, chart reporting, mobile goodness, download and discount codes, pricing flexibility, merch management…the list goes on. We of course plan to keep on developing the product in response to your feedback, and the cost of all that development doesn’t vary between physical and digital. If you don’t care about any of those features, if all you’re looking for is a place to host an image and a link to PayPal, there are definitely other services out there that would be a better fit. For the rest of you, keep telling us how you’d like to see the service improve, and we’ll keep improving it.

One or two people wondered whether they’d still be able to use the site to give away music for free. Yep, absolutely. Preliminary details on that are here.

There were also some questions about replacing PayPal. We intend to expand our payment options in the future, but we’re still a small (now seven person) company and that feature is getting prioritized along with every other mega-important to-do. In the meantime, our payment success rate (the percentage of people who enter the payment flow and then complete their purchase) already hovers near 70% (and hit 75% yesterday), which is excellent for any e-commerce site.

We’ll undoubtedly be fine-tuning the business model more as we go, so please take it all in the iterative spirit in which it’s presented. Thanks again!

Now Streaming on the iPad, iPhone…

…and any other place that doesn’t have Flash, but does support HTML5:

(Streaming has actually long worked on the iPad and iPhone, but clicking play launched QuickTime, which always felt clunky. iOS4 lets us do it right inline, like the good lord intended.)

Bandcamp’s embedded players (the ones you generate from the Share menu) remain Flash-based because MySpace, WordPress.com, and most other online services don’t let you embed arbitrary client-side code, which is what an HTML5-based embed would be. For those of you running your own sites with total control over the code, we’ll soon provide an HTML5 embed option in the Share menu in the form of a tidy script tag.

Nerdholes nota bene: Firefox’s HTML5 audio support uses Ogg, not mp3, so you won’t see the non-Flash streaming goodness there. We love Ogg as much as the next guy, so we may add it as a streaming option in the future.

Package Options, Multiple Packages Per Album

You can now present fans with a menu of options, such as t-shirt size or vinyl color, for any given physical package. So, rather than asking a buyer to email you their choice after their purchase, or click “leave note for seller” over on PayPal (both pretty clunky workarounds), the fan’s selection appears in your notification email from Bandcamp, on your merch orders page, and in your all-time sales csv file. We even handle the inventory control, and allow you to override the quantity remaining at any given time (great for if you’re selling at shows in addition to online). Here’s what the options UI looks like to your fans:

To set up an option menu like this, click Edit on any album page, then add a new physical package or click Edit on an existing one, and fill in the details shown here:



We’re also pumped and/or stoked to officially announce support for multiple packages per album. If your release includes a CD bundle, vinyl bundle, and deluxe kitchen sink bundle with t-shirt, you can now list all of those packages on a single album page (and present them in whatever order you like). Setting up multiple packages for an album is easy: you just click Edit on any album page, then click the “add new” link here:

To reorder packages, you drag and drop them, also from the album edit page:



Finally, a few examples of sites already listing multiple packages:

Enjoy!

Second Release from BCWax is Here!

A few months ago, we launched BCWax, an unlabel dedicated to the production of high-quality physical artifacts of some of the best independent music hosted on Bandcamp. You can read more about our motivations, but primary among them was to promote the creation of the kind of merch we ourselves would like to buy, and refine the system for selling it. So we detailed every resource used to produce our first release, and developed a slew of new features to help deliver it. Not that we’re more than .01% responsible, but here it is a relatively short time later, and the quantity, quality and variety of physical goods sold through Bandcamp is truly staggering. Sweet!

Today, we’re excited to announce our second release, Get It Together, from New Zealand funksters Sola Rosa. You can pick it up right here (enter discount code “wax” during checkout to knock 15% off). We hope you’ll have a listen because above all, it’s great music from hard-working, independent musicians like yourself. But we also hope you’ll take a look because it’s a gorgeous limited edition package (once again designed by Dan Stiles), and it’s exactly the sort of thing we’d like to purchase from every one of our favorite artists. It includes a beautiful LP (this time on translucent ice blue vinyl):

…stunning 12″x12″ silkscreen print of the cover (signed and numbered and using a metallic gold ink not present on the jacket):

…and of course an immediate download to keep you entertained while you wait for the mailperson.

If you already picked up our first release from Sophie Madeleine, thanks so much. We think this one will make a fine addition to your collection!

Click here to listen to and buy BCWax02, Sola Rosa’s Get It Together. Enter discount code “wax” during checkout for 15% off.

Buttons Buttons Buttons

Our aspiration here at Bandcamp has always been to power the site that you consider yours. As such, we limit our branding to the small logo you see in the footer, and happily enable you to banish the “bandcamp” from your URL in favor of your own custom domain. But we do still frequently hear from people looking for buttons/badges/what-have-you to help spread the Bandcamp word (thanks!), so we finally put some together (click for code/affirmation):

Name-Your-Price Physical

You can now let fans name their price for physical packages, but set the minimum to whatever you choose. Just go to your album page, click Edit, and in the package settings choose “let fan name price.” As we’ve mentioned before, name-your-price has proven very successful with digital, so we’re excited to see what happens when your audience can financially express their superfandom with physical as well.

Please note: discount codes do not (yet) work with name-your-price items. We plan to enable that in the future (the discount will just lower the minimum price), but for now, if you have a discount code out there, then change an item to name-your-price, fans will not be able to use the code.

Label Integration Using the Index, Image Maps and Custom Artist Field



Update July 23rd, 2010: Another nice example from Gerry Loves Records:



One of the cool things about the new index page and image map features is how they can be used in conjunction with one another to power a label’s music store. Icelandic record label Bedroom Community’s forthcoming site redesign does exactly that:

They’ve customized their header and added an image map to integrate with their site, and they’ve set up an index page on Bandcamp to highlight all of their artists. The artists themselves have individual accounts on Bandcamp, which has the advantage of letting them each have their own design, as well as artist-specific URLs (which is better for SEO):

Note that each artist’s page has navigation built into the header (using an image map), so fans can explore other artists on the roster, and quickly return to the index.

Adding releases to your index page that go to other artists on Bandcamp is easy. You click the Set button in any cell, and then the “change” link:

You can then enter the URL of any artist on Bandcamp, and click the popup menu to choose which release you want to feature on the index page:


Finally, a few weeks ago we added the ability to customize the artist field at both the album and track level (whereas before it was always set to the account artist). This had the effect of better supporting compilation albums, but it also paved the way for label samplers. Bedroom Community’s sampler lives within their account (as opposed to within the individual artist accounts), is linked to from their index page, and looks like this:

Note each track on the sampler has a custom artist name set, which appears in the track listing and in the metadata of the downloaded tracks.

Loads more in the way of label support still to come…

The Index Page

…could not be a less enticing title, so let’s cut right to the awesome it enables:

Those are all just standard Bandcamp-powered sites. The second two use the new image map feature to add site navigation to the custom header. But all three use the new index page feature to display a selection of releases when fans go to your site, rather than just bringing them straight to your latest release.

Setting up an index page is simple — look for the “Home page” section on your profile page and select “go to my index page”. Save your changes and your home page will now look something like this:

We pre-populate the grid with your existing catalog, but you can customize the page to highlight just a few releases, adjust their order, and so on. Click the plus/minus icons in the yellow bar to add or remove rows and columns. Click the “x” icon in the lower right of any release to remove it. And click the Set button in any cell to pick the release you want there:

To actually make the index page what people see when they go to yourband.bandcamp.com (or yourcustomdomain.com), click the “…to see this index page instead, click here” link in the yellow header, or go to your Profile page and look for the new section labeled “Home Page”:

Once again we’d love to see what you guys come up with, so please point us toward your efforts in the comments!

P.S. The “change” link next to your band name in the Set Index Cell dialog lets you put any release on Bandcamp on your index page, rather than restricting it to just your own releases. In the next post, we’ll look at how a label can use this to power their roster’s music pages.

Integrating Bandcamp into Your Existing Site (SPOILER ALERT: Image Maps)

Once again to the Bandcamp mailbag:

“Is it possible to add html links to the custom header? Right now the whole thing links back to the home page, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could put a few tabs on that bad boy linking to say our blog, or our true home page? This would make an already awesome site a bit more customizable and integrated into an artist’s other web activities. We love how we can bring Bandcamp into our other sites, but what about bringing a bit of us into Bandcamp?”

“I want to provide navigation links back to the other parts of our site from our music ‘page’ (which is in reality our Bandcamp page). Is there any chance that you might include some way of making customisable links to provide this functionality?”

“Is it possible to upload an html image map with my custom header image? I’d like there to be seamless clicking between my Bandcamp pages and the rest of my site, and that would require my site’s navigation to appear on my Bandcamp pages as well.”

We enjoy doing as we are told:

Yep, from your Profile page, you can now specify an image map for your custom header, thereby emulating your own site’s navigation and making its integration with Bandcamp seamless. Here’s an example of an image map applied to the custom header of the most excellent Chicago rock band, Empires:

The above is just a simple custom header with an image map, no iframe trickery needed. Note too that they’ve customized their Bandcamp URL (to http://music.weareempires.com), making the integration even tighter.

Here’s another example:

Again, a custom header, image map, and some creative design, and Jed’s Bandcamp-powered music pages smoothly integrate into his own site.

Aside 1: An image map is just some basic HTML code that turns various parts of an image into clickable links. You can create them using Dreamweaver, Photoshop or most any other image editing program (there are even a few web-based image map generators if you’re feeling mildly masochistic).

Aside 2: Eagle-eyed readers will note that in the Profile page UI shown above, there’s also a new option to set your entire header to link anywhere you wish (whereas before it always linked back to the top-level of your Bandcamp site).

Please point us towards your own image map uses in the comments, we’d love to see them!

Update April 27, 2010: Cool image maps are popping up left and right. A few recent favorites: