Personalized Bandcamp Recommendations with BCRecommender

BandcampBy Yanir Seroussi from BCRecommender

I've been a Bandcamp user for a few years now and I love it. I love the fact that they pay out a significant share of the revenue directly to the artists, unlike other services. In addition, despite the fact that fans may stream all the music for free and even easily rip it, over $80M were paid out to artists through Bandcamp to date (including almost $3M in the last month). This serves as strong evidence that Bandcamp's focus on doing what's good for the artists is working out well. In the words of Bandcamp CEO, Ethan Diamond, "People want to support the artists that they love."

One thing I've been struggling with since starting to use Bandcamp is the discovery of new music. Originally (in 2011), I used the browse-by-tag feature, but it is often too broad to find music that I like. A newer feature is the Discoverinator, which is meant to emulate the experience of browsing through covers at a record store. Sadly, I could never find much stuff I liked using that method, and I’m not the only one – as noted by Tyler Hayes, it is just not good enough.

Last year, Bandcamp announced Bandcamp for fans, which includes the ability to wishlist items and discover new music by stalking/following other fans. In addition, they released mobile apps, which made the music purchased on Bandcamp much easier to access. These new features definitely increased my engagement by helping me find more stuff to listen to, and apparently helped other fans too, as introducing fan accounts significantly increased user spending. However, I still think that Bandcamp music discovery could be much better.

Bandcamp-hi54lofi-accountI would love to browse personalized recommendations and find music that is similar to specific tracks and albums that I like. Rather than waiting for Bandcamp to implement such features, I decided to do it myself. Visit BCRecommender – Bandcamp recommendations based on your fan account to see where this effort stands at the moment.

The key difference between BCRecommender and the music discovery features offered by Bandcamp is that BCRecommender's suggestions are personalized based on music that the fan purchased or wishlisted. The only thing that comes close to this level of personalization is Bandcamp's music feed, which is based on artists and fans that you follow. However, finding fans to follow isn't easy – I only know of a handful of fans whose taste is remotely similar to mine. Also, Bandcamp's feed doesn’t allow discovery of new artists whose music hasn’t been purchased by anyone yet. By contrast, BCRecommender recommends music based on both similar fans and music with similar tags, which enables discovery of fresh new music.

While BCRecommender has already helped me discover new music to add to my collection, building it has given me many more ideas for improvements. Some early feedback from other fans indicates that people love it. Nonetheless, more suggestions and comments are always welcome. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Note: BCRecommender is not associated with or endorsed by Bandcamp. However, I doubt they would mind since it was built using publicly-available information, and its goal is in line with Bandcamp's mission of supporting the artists, as every recommendation includes a link to buy the music back on Bandcamp.

About the author: Yanir Seroussi is a data scientist and music fan. You can read more on BCRecommender and contact him via his personal blog. For BCRecommender feedback, email bcrecommender@gmail.com or tweet at @bcrecommender.

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