The New Bandcamp Subscription Feature And Why It Won’t Work [Bobby Owsinski]
By Bobby Owsinski on Music 3.0
Indie music aggregator Bandcamp recently launched a new feature that enables fans to subscribe to its artists for a fixed amount per year (like the $32 that the UK band Candy or artist Steve Lawson are charging). During that time, the fan gets access to all the material that artist or band creates. The fan also has the option of paying more than the subscription amount if they so desire. While this might sound like a great idea and a good way for fans to support an artist or band, it's probably a feature that will benefit Bandcamp much more than any artist on the service.
1. We're living in a different world than even 3 years ago. Fans are more interested in a song by an artist than the artist themselves in most cases. They can get the songs for free on YouTube or for a lot less money than subscribing if they already pay for a streaming service.
2. Most artists over-promise when it comes to future releases, but it's really difficult to turn out a lot of quality product over the course of a year and on a regular schedule. If the releases don't come as promised or they aren't as good as expected, the subscriber doesn't remain engaged. If there are fewer subscribers than anticipated (which is always the case), regular creative output becomes even more difficult for the artist.
3. Most artists concentrate on their subscribers or the non-subscriber fans, but not both. This leads to fan attrition rather than increasing the fan base.
4. You're competing against yourself if you expect people to buy your product on Amazon, iTunes, or purchase a CD or vinyl. If they sign up for decreased subscription rate, that's a lot less money that you can get from someone who's already a fan and might be more willing to purchase on a whim.
That's not to say that subscription can't work in some cases (a jam band like Phish that's been around for along time and has a big catalog of recorded concerts for instance), but it's not a model that most artists will find useful, especially if you don't already have a large and well-established fanbase. The bottom line, Bandcamp may be trying to sell you on this feature, but it's not all it's cracked up to be.