Worrying About Bandcamp’s Future ⇥ welcometohellworld.com
Philip Sherburne, Pitchfork:
We don’t know what is going to happen, but now is the time to begin imagining and building new alternatives. First of all: Anyone worried about losing their Bandcamp collection might want to try Batchcamp, a Chrome extension for bulk-downloading all of their Bandcamp purchases, before it’s too late. The next thing fans can do is to reaffirm their support for record stores: local shops, online retailers like Rough Trade, Boomkat, Bleep, Beatport, Qobuz — you name it. Of course, that alone wouldn’t be enough to make up for the loss of Bandcamp, should it fall; a de facto monopoly, Bandcamp is too entrenched, too central to the business of independent music in the 2020s. For that very reason, we desperately need a host of competitors, a vibrant ecosystem to diversify the market and encourage innovations that will improve the current situation for artists, labels, and fans alike.
Miranda Reinert, writing at Welcome to Hell World:
The companies that buy up sites like Bandcamp are interested in nothing except ensuring the executives’ pockets get lined appropriately. Growth is the only thing of interest. It’s the story of capitalism, but here, like with MySpace, it becomes a matter of cultural preservation. They can – and will – ruin everything you love and wipe it from existence. MySpace lost 13 years of music, photos, and videos. We can talk about what was going on on MySpace and interview people who were there, but the data being erased remains an unimaginable culture loss. […]
It remains a problem that so many digital services are consolidated around single platforms. It is possible and not very difficult to set up a paid newsletter independently, but Substack does all the heavy lifting. Distributing audio files is marginally more difficult but, again, Bandcamp made it really simple. As a bonus, both these services help with marketing, too, and Bandcamp reports sales to SoundScan and other charts.
It is tempting for technologists to argue that we should create better ways for artists and writers and filmmakers and others to distance themselves from centralized platforms like these and become entirely independent. But I do not think that is what the world is calling for. It is not as though those products do not already exist; the reality is that most people do not want to maintain a website.
There need to be more platforms like these — “more internet”, as Katie Notopoulos put it. There should be requirements that user data is securely backed up, and that user data is also portable. If a musician does not like a platform’s new direction or they get a better deal somewhere else, it should be trivial for them to export their catalogue and migrate their mailing list, not a silly hack. Platforms ought to have the confidence that they are doing so well for their users that a single-click migration button is seen as trust-building, not a risk.