Online music marketplace Bandcamp is waiving its revenue share on sales today in order to help musicians who are impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The platform normally takes 15 percent of each digital sale and 10 percent of each merchandise purchase. The lifted fees will be in place until 12AM PT tonight.
While streaming music does eventually pay out some money to artists, it can take months and is often divvied up between a lot of parties. Buying music on Bandcamp is a way to quickly and more directly put money in a musician’s pocket, as there are often fewer middlemen and funds are deposited within 24–48 hours of a purchase. Bandcamp’s structure is also unique in that it allows for flexible payments. Artists set a minimum purchase price for music and physical goods, but people are welcome to add more on top when they buy as a tip or gift.
Bandcamp is used by hundreds of thousands of artists, more than 3,000 labels, and has an inventory of over 800,000 unique physical products. The platform says that fans have paid artists $470 million through the platform since it launched in 2007, with $10.2 million paid out in the last 30 days.
“For many artists, a single day of boosted sales can mean the difference between being able to pay rent or not,” says Bandcamp co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond. “Still, we consider this just a starting point. Musicians will continue to feel the effects of lost touring income for many months to come.”
The Verge noted this yesterday in speaking with musicians looking to Twitch to recoup lost tour funds. A study by the Music Industry Research Association found that the average US musician overwhelmingly relies on live shows for income, and now many are contending with unexpected hardship as many have scrapped most tours in recent weeks due to the pandemic. “The more you can prove you can sell hard tickets, the more you’re worth when you’re booked,” musician Marc Rebillet told The Verge. “I’m sort of scrambling to find a way to keep being able to live the way I want to live.”
For artists, Bandcamp’s announcement also outlines other ways to make money on the platform, including releasing old demos or live recordings, setting up a subscription service, and listing things like video hangouts, lessons, and gear tutorials as merch items.
Additionally, Pitchfork has also listed over two dozen labels on Bandcamp that are directing a greater percentage from sales to their artists, including Hyperdub, Captured Tracks, and Citrus City.
With the announcement, Bandcamp’s website appears to be experiencing higher traffic than usual and intermittently going offline. Make sure to check back through the day if you’re met with an “we are offline briefly for maintenance” message.