Friday, 14 September 2012

Column: 'Bandcamp and the Music Industry of Tomorrow'

Illustration by Joshua Armitage

My latest column for Dummy is up, on the potential pros and cons of Bandcamp (click here), together with some of my musical findings on the site and a sketch of an even more communal version.

In the same way that the unique compositional possibilities of recording technology itself were only widely accessible and explored in the last quarter of the twentieth century... it may be decades before the uniqueness of tomorrow’s online music-making landscape is really found and put to use.

Unlike a conventional record label, Bandcamp wield no creative input or influence over their artists at all – anything that you care to put in a sound-file and post up there (albeit within the bounds of legality), can go on the site and find its audience... of course, this is not the Utopian dream it might initially appear to be.

There’s something quite empowering about finding interesting music in this purer, more open way, without the middleman of a review, an article, a press release or a bit of blog coverage. In fact, you could say it allows the old systems and paraphenalias of music journalism to give way to a more immediate and more democratic communion with the music, a music criticism that arises from sharing and discussion, and that builds its own values rather than perpetuates those of a whole music-industrial and music-journalistic hierarchy. Radically, the Bandcamp format allows music to operate even further away from pre-conceived and industry-pushed notions of what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in music than ever before.

This need to be a bit discerning brings me to a something lots of people have been wary about when it comes to searching for and encountering music this way: what you might call ‘Internet Panic’...

I reckon it’s a real possibility that over the next five years, the most significant underground releases (‘albums of the year’, if you have to put it that way), will be released on Bandcamp... Given how much power, control and share of the revenue artists have on Bandcamp compared with the conventional system, this is a bit of an exciting prospect...


  1. A useful little feature of Bandcamp that you don't see as a browser - the fact that albums can be public or private. Private albums are very useful if you are a 'band' rather than a solo music-maker for things like recording a band rehearsal and then putting the files on bandcamp so they're available to listen back to, or sharing sharing a beat/demo/musical sketch with other members. Obviously, it's not key as far as your argument goes but worth mentioning as it's another attractive aspect