The recorded music business had a decent year in 2016, but indie powerhouse Bandcamp had an ever better one. And they did it the old fashioned way - selling music and merchandise - rather than by collecting checks from Spotify and Apple Music.
Bandcamp's business grew across all categories in 2016. They also reported their 17th straight profitable quarter, while also increasing staff by 43% last year.
Digital album sales on the indie and d.i.y online sales platform grew 20%, tracks sales were up 23%, and merch sales grew 34% last year. Not surprisingly, growth in physical sales was led by vinyl, which was up 48%. But CD also grew 14% and cassettes were up 58%. Every one of these categories saw an acceleration over last year’s growth, according to the company.
The increases were fueled by "hundreds of thousands of artists" joining Bandcamp in 2016 along with more than 2,000 independent labels including Dischord, Merge, and Dualtone.
Alongside creator growth, 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.
With these impressive numbers came a message from Bandcamp:
"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.
...Bandcamp provides an alternative to all of this because we feel strongly that an alternative needs to exist. ...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."
Plans For 2017
"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."