Bandcamp To Switch From Free To Paid Service

image from 4.bp.blogspot.com(UPDATED) After several years of offering free services, music marketing and sales platform Bandcamp announced today that it will be switching to a paid platform in early August. Bandcamp will  charge artists 15% of each transaction, dropping to 10% as soon as an artist, management or label's all-time sales exceed $5,000.  The revenue share rate for existing accounts will be based on all  sales to date.

In the past six months, Bandcamp says that they've sold more $1 million in music and merch directly to fans. Last week Zoe Keating hit #7 on the Billboard Classical chart from the strength of her Bandcamp sales alone.

"It’s been awesome to witness," according to Bandcamp founder Ethan Diamond. "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."

Details here.

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  1. It was only a matter of time and it was great while it lasted. I really like Bandcamp so it is not the end of the world – and they certainly can charge whatever they want but 15% on top of other fees will really start to add up.
    Maybe it is time to search for and invest in an onsite e-commerce solution. Any ideas?

  2. Get fucked bandcamp. Fucking pirates.
    2 weeks notice is scandalous. Really happy I invested so much money in a 2×12″ vinyl release just before my costs went up 15%.
    Super happy that all my advertising for this release directs customers to a site that I no longer wish to use.
    they havent even finished the site yet and they have run out of money. You CAN NOT combine shipping on customers purchasing multiple items with bandcamp.
    Investors reading this: TIME TO BAIL

  3. it is a sad day today… i feel like my wife has just walked out on me… Bandcamp you broke my heart…. and its not that you stopped loving me, but it was the way in which you delivered the message…. surely giving me months notice would have prepared me better… but you just dropped the bomb on me and crushed my heart….
    i guess i will pack up what remains and leave…

  4. Maybe I don’t have room to talk since my twelve dollars in sales for the past three months amounts to, like, practically nothing in fees, but are you serious? I’m not one for reading the fine print, and even I knew they were planning to take a cut. It’s been in the faq for years.
    Or maybe your just saying, “oh oh, we wanted more notice because we planned to bail out as soon as you started charging and now we have to hurry!” aka cheep basterds

  5. Does the 15% include credit card processing fees?
    Is Paypal still required and is there a direct payment system ala Topspin?
    If yes to either or both of these questions…. I’ll pass. Call me when there’s a low monthly fee or a REAL POS system set in place.

  6. I understand that Bandcamp has to make some money, as they should. But I do agree that 2 weeks notice isn’t all that fair.
    Lke someone mentioned earlier, people need time to adjust their prices and amounts of merch, especially if Bandcamp is their primary site.

  7. Bandcamp is a fantastic service, and honestly I’m surprised it took them this long to start charging fees. But, since they jumped their fees up to 15%, that now makes TuneLab the #1 place for rock bands to sell their music. We’ve always had a revenue share “fee”, but it’s lower than Bandcamp’s. There’s also no monthly fees, maintenance fees or anything else (fine print as they called it).
    We would love to make it free just like Bandcamp, but as they have found out, you can’t do that and succeed. Plus, we don’t have any investors. We’ve got what we do by building from the ground up, and we’re quite proud of that (although we wouldn’t turn down any investment opportunity).

  8. I use Bandcamp with a couple of different artists and they seem happy for bandcamp to take a 10-15% cut of their profits given all of the features available.
    More notice would have been nice, but *if* it’s a case of charging to survive sooner rather than later than that’s how it has to be I guess.
    If users don’t like it they can go elsewhere, no one is forcing them to stick with bandcamp.

  9. I dreaded the day, but knew it was creeping up on me….Figures that I just set up pages for a few of my artists like 3 days ago….Oh well, maybe it is time to find a different free e-commerce solution. I just don’t know if we can bite that 15% bullet, on top of whatever other fees that will probably be charged. But maybe we can, I won’t give up on you Bandcamp!
    Thanks for an awesomely free service for so long.

  10. Lots of interesting discussion in the comments. The thing that really sticks out is that musicians really don’t want to spend a penny on anything, including top notch services.
    The new BandCamp still offers free downloads in exchange for email (still the best free service that does this) and still gives you the option to do a pay-what-you-want.
    And really – 15%. If you are selling a $10 album, you lose $1.50. Add is PayPal fees and you lose $2.00. How many albums are you really selling on the platform to where this is going to add up?
    If you are selling 10k-20k albums on BandCamp then look to move to an alternative.
    Really sad that no one wants to pay for quality and value. Go look at 1ShoppingCart, Authorize.net or other ecommerce platforms. That 15% won’t look so bad then. The other option is PayPal with some WordPress plugins.

  11. Checked out the BC blog post and asked if they were going to offer anything beyond Paypal, suggesting asking 15% was a bit much to ask for until otherwise… but apparently Ethan is only answering/approving the posts which contain the phrase “I love Bandcamp”….
    Bandcamp is well worth a low monthly fee as it’s a great service, but I don’t see where being an file hosting service and advanced Paypal script earns them the right to collect royalties on par with a management agency or the like…
    But hey, it’s their “store.” (kind -of… if you don’t count Paypal).

  12. No service can be free forever and be reliable. Bandcamp has built some great tools, and to keep their service going, they had to charge.
    If a taking a cut of the sale isn’t for you, check out Bandzoogle.com. We just hit $2.5M in no-fee music sales!

    You can go direct with iTunes.
    Yeah, for Bandcamp to do a retroactive fee-taking on past sales is illegal, I think. Those sales are past tense.

  14. Bandcamp aren’t doing retroactive fee-taking! That line in their blog was just badly worded. What they mean is…if you’ve already gone over the $5,000 threshold in sales, they’ll only take 10% from now on, not the 15% they’ll take if you’ve not amounted $5,000 in sales yet.
    And I think the feature set available: name your own price, free download codes, discount codes, digital & physical bundles, in depth stats for streams and downloads/sales, email data capture, not to mention multiple audio formats, large size product previews and embeddable widgets are a little too much to expect for free (forever)?
    If you use bandcamp to it’s full capabilities (and any bands out there should!) then the $10-$15% fee isn’t hard to swallow.

  15. These comments are full of five types of responses:
    1. Unreasonable people thinking that what Bandcamp builds is free and they are wrong for every asking someone to pay for their high quality service… Come on people. Bandcamp has been beta testing their service for years and not asking for a penny. I’m always amazing at how people, especially artists, think that someone asking to be paid for a service is unreasonable. The sad part is, most of the best tech people I know refuse to work on artist-focused projects anymore because they know artists wont pay for anything. Everyone understands that artists don’t have a lot of money to spend, but everything won’t be free. Just because it’s online, doesn’t mean it has to be free. Gas isn’t free. Gear isn’t free. Your laptop isn’t free. Quality, top notch software shouldn’t be free either.
    2. People saying that 2 weeks notice is too short. It is short, I agree. But I guess my question would be, for those that are upset, what would you do differently if they said 4 weeks? Or 2 months? I’d really be interested in knowing exactly how that would change this for you? Honestly, if you have valid reasons, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bandcamp would work with you on this.
    3. Other companies using this as a posturing move to steal customers (Bandzoogle, Tunelab). I honestly feel like these comments should be moderated out. Pay Hypebot for advertising if you think this is a place you can grab new users.
    4. Confused people about how the rev share will work. Now I could be totally wrong, but I dont think the users complaining about “retroactive fee taking” are correct here. If I’m wrong, I agree it’s a bad move by Bandcamp. But what I think they are saying is, if you have sold more than $5000 in the past, you automatically qualify for the 10%. They’re not saying you have to pay 10-15% on all those previous sales. It’s a policy that’s supposed to make things MORE fair so people can’t say “I’ve sold $10000, why do I need to start paying 15%?!” Again, I could be the wrong one here.
    5. Understanding, rational people. These people understand the tremendous amount of value Bandcamp has given to the community over the past few years and know that for the service to really grow and get better (and stay active) they have to turn their product into a business. You are the community who makes it inspiring and worthwhile for us to build amazing software for you. Thank you.
    Bracing for hate mail,

  16. Brenden:
    To be fair, commenters like Corey are asking for alternatives. The fact is, most musicians think the options are Bandcamp or nothing.
    And, we do advertise on Hypebot 🙂

  17. @Brenden,
    I don’t think anybody with their head screwed on right expected BC to remain free. Lots of valuable tools provided – definitely worth a fair price.
    However, I think BC has a whole lot more in common with something like eJunkie than iTunes, so I have a problem with BC taking royalties. Yes, it’s worth a fee… but NO, it’s not worth the equivalent to a booking agent or manager ‘s commission per sale. Does BC handle payment transaction? No. Does BC come pre-installed on millions of hardware devices? No. Bandcamp is essentially a well-put together Paypal script bundled with Google analytics and a widget.
    I’ll be curious to see if Zoe Keating still thinks Bandcamp is so cool after they collect $700 in royalties off her next 500 CD sales. (BC gets a $1000 cut if she sells 500 deluxe packages!!! Unbelievable!)

  18. Thanks for all the feedback everyone.
    Jeff has it right, our plan for a forthcoming revenue share has been in our FAQ for a long time:
    James Clarke and Brenden, also correct: the revenue share is not retroactive. Your *rate* will be based on all your sales to date (meaning many artists will start at the discounted rate), but all sales before the share goes into effect are of course completely yours.

  19. Jim.. you are aware that your net take with iTunes is even lower, and that you have no relationship with your fans for subsequent marketing?
    iTunes is as much of a “direct” channel as Best Buy is.

  20. I’m sorry. I messed up earlier due to my rage…
    I have just this week invested $4000 in pressing some 2×12″ vinyl. I have spent the last 2 months creating links all over the internet directing traffic to my bandcamp site.
    Now I find out that approx 2 weeks before the release date my costs have gone from approx $8 per record sold to $11 per record sold. a 42% increase.
    Bandcamp have totally torpedoed my project. so much for DIY artists/labels. It makes it totally certain I will have to go through a distributor now. My distributer charges approx 20% and actually has some contacts in the music industry that can result in sales. Not just host a fucking mp3 and forward me some emails.
    Furthermore. Its a stupid fucking idea. Everyone posting ‘i love bandcamp, im so happy they are charging so that they will stay around’ on their blog are the people doing $10 of digital sales per month. Anyone who sells more than $100 of actual product per month is better off at Big Cartel. so bandcamp are going to be left with all the work (hosting a million bands who shift 1 unit per quarter) while all the sales go elsewhere. Why not speak to paypal and take a slice of the 6% per sale that they generate?
    they’re idiots and on a short track to bankrupcy.
    I built a site that does the job in 4 hours, and it can actually ship 2 items to one person without charging them full price shipping for both items. UNLIKE BANDCAMP.

  21. BandCamp is a phenomenal service. You were naive to think it would be free forever.
    To the people complaining, you are like a band I used to play in. You whine about having to pay for anything (artwork, graphic design, mastering, etc) but then bitch and moan when no one buys your product because it’s a piece of shit. Presentation/networking is everything and BandCamp is the best option to present your music to people and to start building your network.
    If you don’t like it, jump ship but good luck finding another service that does it better for less.

  22. It’s like I tell almost every artist in my scene – don’t depend on just one thing. Once that crutch is taken away from you, you’re flat on your ass. Sad as it is, it’s the truth.
    As blunt as that was, I feel your pain, man. More advanced notice is the one thing I wished BandCamp would’ve done. They can still salvage the situation by extending it to September or getting bought out by SonicBids…I’m joking about the latter.

  23. I agree with you. That’s why I set up the BC site. Most labels in my genre only sell direct to distro’s. By also selling direct to customers we can pay our artists more (they’re on 50% of profit).
    Buy selling 50-100 records direct we can sell to distro’s for slightly cheaper and hopefully sell more records.
    When they said fee’s would be introduced at a reasonable rate and with plenty of notice I was thinking more along the lines of 2-5% and 3-6 months.
    Its basically a peer2peer brokerage. standard brokerage fee is 2-5% depending on how efficient the industry is. If BC can’t supply the market that efficiently they don’t deserve to be in business.
    It should be $5 month minimum or 2-5% of sales. get rid of the sites that are hogging your server space and not generating any sales.
    Anyone selling $1000’s per month of physical goods should be getting paid by BC not the other way around: a) For the traffic generated that can be directed to other BC sites that are paying BC a %fee and b)because you can demand a slice of paypal’s fee by telling them otherwise your business model will force people to use amazon & visa/mastercard.

  24. “I am Person A. I like making music. This internet thing might help me get more fans and make money so I can support my music making. I don’t have the skills or time to properly utilize said internet thing but Hey! Person B does! I should compensate Person B in a monetary fashion (with the money they helped me earn) in order to make a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship”

  25. Brenden,
    Yes, I was gloating a bit that their fees were higher than ours, but I complimented their fantastic service, and was backing up my “surprised it took them this long” comment with why, because I run a loosely similar service and I understand it. The second part of the first paragraph was in response to the Bandcamp article implying that “other services” had “fine print” or other hidden fees and I was defending us saying we didn’t. Then I said I’d love to do what they did, but we don’t have the scratch to support it.
    The last think I was doing was posturing to steal customers. The customers I’m looking for are only [non-indie] rock musicians, not “industry folks” that would read/post here.
    If you feel that strongly about it, delete my comment and bill me for the two people who visited from here, one of whom only visited after your mention.
    For the record, I would pay hypebot if I thought this was a place I could grab new users. But this isn’t.

  26. Let me tell you something else, Brenden. Not everybody is an entrepreneur. We don’t see something, a business, a service, and immediately get $$$ eyeballs. I think what annoyed me most about your comment was your ignorant implication that I was trying to “posture to steal customers.” Let me tell you a little something about TuneLab… TuneLab is a hobby, something I’ve done for almost eight years now out of my love for rock music. We don’t make money, and we aren’t out to make money. I have a day-job that pays my bills, and that’s all I need. While you seek to make services that “help” artists while padding your pockets at the same time, I seek to help artists while taking only what little bit I have to in order to pay for the server. Yeah, we do have a storefront service, and yeah, it’s the cheapest out there, and I’m damn proud of it. I’m going to talk about it anywhere I can, because I can say I helped artists for the sake of helping artists without a single selfish thought. Can you say that?
    I urge you to seek out any contacts you may have in the active/modern/hard rock music industry. Then ask them what TuneLab does for them and their artists. Next, ask what TuneLab has asked for in return or charged them or even has been given in return without asking for it. After you’ve done that, come back here and let me know if you still think I’m just here spamming to “steal customers.” This might surprise you, but there are people in this industry that aren’t all about money like you.

  27. For the upset customers of Bandcamp:
    Use Amazon… no, hang on, they put 100% mark up on their stuff.
    Use OpenCart free script (we do)… no, hang on, you’ll have to deal with the backend coding and front end html and it’s a pain in the arse (I know, because I have to).
    Use a distributer to get your CDs to Indie stores… no, hang on, the stores add 33% markup and the distributer takes 15% of the retail price.
    F*** it, take your CDs to a car boot sale and flog them out the back of your car… no, hang on…
    I’m not with bandcamp, though i know of them, but really, quit your moaning. 15% markup for a retail outlet is LOW. Grow up, get real, and thank them for being a) free for such a long time and b) cheap now.
    ps: you make a (very small) success of yourself and they charge 10%. Makes the quibbling even more pathetic really.

  28. The situation is not as “black and white” as you’re asserting. Seeing an opportunity to build a profitable, sustainable business is by no means an indicator that all he wants to do is line his pockets and “money grub” from all of his customers. The fact that ArtistData has a tremendous following and gobs of paying customers means that he’s providing something of value – something with enough value that people are willing to take out their credit cards and give him money.
    If you run your website as a hobby that is fine. Nobody is going to vilify you for doing what you want with it and providing that service as you want to provide it. It’s unfair, however, to imply greed or lack of concern for customers for people trying to run a company that both makes money and provides a tremendous value for customers. There definitely is a fair middle ground that all business owners should strive for – everyone I’ve talked to seems more than pleased with ArtistData so I’m going to put Brenden in that bucket until I hear otherwise.

  29. Is there some secret password I need to know to access the part of your website (tunelab) where I could learn more about it? I can’t figure out how to sign up or even whether I’d want to.

  30. I think Bandcamp is a great service and really wondered how they could offer it for free. I’d rather pay them a percentage and still have the service than to have them go out of business, leaving me looking for something else. Why are musicians so cheap???? 10-15% is a reasonable fee.
    I also sell my books on LULU.com and they take a percentage. It’s not that big a deal! These services are a bargain for what they do. If I had to do it all myself, I’d give up and get a day job.
    itunes/Amazon/etc. are a pain for artists like me who want to set their own price or have full control over their material. BANDCAMP IS STILL A GREAT BARGAIN, SO PEOPLE STOP YOUR WHINING!!!

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