Bandcamp usually keep very quiet and just let their product do the the talking. But every so often they release a new feature that makes everyone sit up and take note. They’ve just released fan accounts and as a result have a delightful network for fans to indulge themselves into.
This new fan profiles are slick. They show off what music you have bought (and therefore 100% supported the artist, well, maybe 99.8% as Bandcamp do take a slice). When I signed up I realised I only have one album in my collection and instantly wanted to have a more beefy collection like Bandcamp’s co-founder Ethan Diamond, which could have resulted in me going on a Bandcamp spending spree (luckily I took a deep breath). But the incentive is there; collect music and show off who you support.
The other great aspect of these collections is you can see what albums in your collection appears in other fans’ collections. “Oh cool 11 other fans have this album, oh this guy has a good collection”, then suddenly you’re on a Wikipedia style internet voyage.
One thing I noticed with these collections is that it looks like albums on Bandcamp that you can download for free, either outright or by entering ‘0’ on the “name your price” model, won’t come up in your collection. Their blog post doesn’t really give a reason for that either. The closest is this quote in regards to a question about there being deeper motivation at work:
If someone simply listens to a song, I frankly don’t care at all. And if someone listens to a song and then burns .01 calories tapping a Like button… well that’s slightly more interesting, but I still don’t care much. However, if someone is passionate enough about a record to spend money on it – to actually support the artist who made it, and perhaps even write a bit about why they love it – that makes me much more likely listen to that record, and perhaps add it to my collection as well.
So I can understand where they’re coming from there and it does give a fan’s collection a lot more value than “a bunch of tracks I clicked the like button on”. But, I’m an artist on Bandcamp who released an album two years ago where fans could name their price, in other words, download for free.
I chose that because I really wasn’t looking to earn money on it and just wanted my music out there. My album has 200 downloads through Bandcamp, but it won’t appear in anyone’s collections, hence preventing my music from spreading (and potentially getting more sales from people who do want to pay for it). I’m sure a lot of students who chose to download my album for free, still had the same level of “passion” (they were usually the ones to email me or comment on my last.fm page).
I am nitpicking in what is essentially a great product and will most likely be one of the most underrated releases of 2013. I say this because well, I still don’t think anyone really knows “Bandcamp”, despite how solid it is. It’s definitely widely acknowledged in the musician and audiophile circles, but it’s outside of that where Bandcamp now needs to get some attention. This new network for music fans is a great platform for them, it’ll be interesting to see how many of them come along.