Using BandCamp to Promote Your Music
REACH OUT TO US
Given the number of online music streaming services that have opened over the past decade – and the steady decline in CD sales since 1999 with the advent of peer-to-peer sharing (Napster, KaZaa, etc.) – there’s no questioning the huge, and steadily growing, demand for better alternatives to streaming services for albums you can download and purchase yourself.
For today’s musicians, the importance of making your music accessible to a growing online audience is paramount. One popular music promotion tool for independent and up-and-coming artists is Bandcamp, an online music market and free streaming service that allows artists to share (and get paid for) their music at very little cost to the artist.
Our online music promotion service offers indie musicians some basic tips on how to use Bandcamp to sell your music directly to fans on they internet, including how to make a successful Bandcamp page, how to boost profits from Bandcamp, and an overview of and guide to participating in the BandCamp Friday program, which allows artists to keep an even higher percentage of their profits from digital and physical CDs and albums.
WHY TO MAKE A BANDCAMP ARTIST ACCOUNT
Since it was established in 2007, approximately 350,000 artists have signed up with Bandcamp. According to their website, by Summer 2021, “Fans have paid artists $788 million USD using Bandcamp, and $16.2 million in the last 30 days alone.”
And contributing to those figures, fans bought around “5m digital albums, 2m tracks, 1m vinyl albums, 600k CDs, 300k cassettes and 250k t-shirts.”
Bandcamp is especially useful for artists who are focused on trying to sell albums rather than singles, with its website stating, “Albums outsell tracks 5 to 1 on Bandcamp (in the rest of the music buying world, tracks outsell albums 16 to 1).”
In short, if you’re an emerging artist, you should strongly consider making a Bandcamp account if you don’t have one already. It’s free to join, quick and painless, intuitive to set up, and easy to use as an artist, so there’s no real reason not to at least give it a try.
Just be aware that, while it’s free to upload music to Bandcamp, the site takes a 15% cut of digital sales and a 10% cut of any merch sales you make (like selling posters or t-shirts). However, once you reach $5,000 in sales, the cut Bandcamp takes drops from 15% down to 10%.
HOW TO SET UP AND CUSTOMIZE YOUR PROFILE ON BANDCAMP
Signing up for Bandcamp is fast, easy, and doesn’t cost anything on the front end. All you have to do to make a Bandcamp profile is follow these steps:
Visit the Bandcamp website at https://bandcamp.com/
1.) In the top right hand corner of the page, click “Sign Up”.
2.) Click “Sign up as an artist”, you will then see a page touting all they have to offer, and although it looks like a lot, we suggest you read through and take note of the amazing services bandcamp provides.
3.) Then, either in the right hand corner, or at the bottom of that page, click “Sign Up” again.
4.) Now you will be at the sign up page where you will enter your artist name, email, and other pertinent info. Now you’re ready to upload music and customize you page!
As with any other online presence for a band or artist, looks matter, so it’s not enough to put in the bare minimum effort. In order to make your Bandcamp page as appealing and complete as possible, you should spend some time customizing your profile to make it easy on the eye and memorable.
Customizing the imagery on your Bandcamp profile might take a bit of experimentation, simply because of how many functions and options there are. You can adjust colors, add a background image, change the header, and even embed an interactive image map to tie your website and profile together.
Uploading your music, which is the final step, is as easy as sending an email with attachments. Simply follow these steps, and you’re good to go:
Select the files you wish to make available. Importantly, all music files must be in .wav, .aiff, or .flac format, because Bandcamp doesn’t allow .mp3 uploads.
Add a detailed description: credits of who played, who worked on it, and where it was mixed and mastered. You can even upload all the lyrics, fans really like this feature to be available, so put in the extra time.
Upload an image for the cover. The image must be at lest 1400 x 1400 at minimum, though Bandcamp encourages artists to use bigger files where possible. Just make sure the image is square-shaped (or cropped into a square) so that nothing important gets cut off.
Set your price, keeping in mind that Bandcamp takes a 10% to 15% cut depending on 1) how much you’ve made in sales and 2) whether the transaction involves music or merchandise.
The “Discover” area of the website is also a great space for gaining exposure. This section highlights artists and lets fans stream music they might not have known about otherwise. Music can be narrowed by genre, new arrivals, and best-sellers, among other criteria. So make sure when you upload your album, you make sure to choose which song you want featured in their algorithm. All you have to do is click to the left of the song you wan to be featured, and make sure a green star appears next to it.
HOW TO MAKE MONEY FROM BANDCAMP
If you’ve ever bought music online, Bandcamp may already be familiar to you from the “fan” side of the site. In essence, Bandcamp functions as an online music distribution platform where fans can download music or order merchandise directly from the artist or their team.
So what are Bandcamp’s payment options? When do artists get paid for Bandcamp transactions? And how much should you charge for your music on Bandcamp?
HOW TO RECEIVE PAYMENTS ON BANDCAMP
After Bandcamp deducts a certain percentage, the money for the transaction gets transferred to your PayPal account, so make sure you have a profile on PayPal if you don’t already. (Like Bandcamp accounts, PayPal accounts are fast and easy to set up.) To reiterate, this percentage is 15% for digital sales, until the artist reaches $5,000, at which point the commission for digital content drops to 10%. For merchandise sales, the commission is also 10%.
The money is delivered to your PayPal account with 24 to 48 hours of the sale (though the process may take up to 14 days for purchases of $500 or more). This is far faster than DistroKid or TuneCore deliver for their streaming clients, and bands love this about bandcamp.
As for the payment processing fees, bandcamp explains they “are separate and vary by transaction size, but typically range between 4 and 6%. Please see the details for digital items here, and physical items here, including tips on what you can do to minimize those fees.”
And for those with higher priced items: boxsets, beats, etc., they say:
“Because expensive items are sometimes sold through Bandcamp (like deluxe packages and beat licenses), and because superfans occasionally use name-your-price to pay hundreds of dollars for a single album or track, the revenue share applies to the first $100 of an item only (or the item total when more than one of that item is purchased).”
So, more importantly. . .
WHAT PRICE SHOULD YOU CHARGE ON BANDCAMP?
You might be tempted to set a steep price for the digital album you spent months or years pouring your heart, soul, time, and labor into. The key is to remember to price digital albums differently than a physical CD or Vinyl. No one wants to buy digital files for the same price as a physical object. Here’s how to think about it:
For short albums such as EPs and singles with B-sides, a dollar per song is recognized as a fair amount, so 3 songs for $3, or 5 for $5. Some bands who are more popular will sometimes sell a digital EP for a higher number, maybe $8, but it depends on how devoted their fans are to collecting online releases.
For a digital full length, a dollar per song is a good model up until about 12 to 15 songs. $12 dollars for 12 songs feels fair, whereas $15 for 20 may be better than asking for a whole 20 dollar bill. The key here is to remember the medium right now is a digital download.
The great thing about bandcamp is it is not just a way to sell digital music, but is the best place to see your physical merch as well. Bands sell CDs, vinyls, and even apparel through bandcamp, while only having to pay a small percentage to bandcamp and PayPal for facilitating the transactions.
For a physical CD, it isn’t absurd to charge $15 or $20, they are things that cost money to create beyond just mixing and mastering, and the folks who want to buy a Cd understand that and will pay, possibly more if you allow “pay what you want”. More on that later.
For a vinyl, it is totally fair to charge $25, $35, I’ve even seen $40 and up for super small pressings of very cool colored, splatter vinyl with very intricate dye-cut cases. Just charge for how much time and effort you put into the physical product. If someone just wants the songs, they can pay $12 for the digital album, no sweat.
3 WAYS TO INCREASE PROFITS FROM BANDCAMP ALBUM SALES
Now that your profile is up and running, here are three tips to boost your revenue.
Offer discount codes. More fans might be willing to purchase your music if you offer fans a deal by using a discount code. You can distribute your Bandcamp discount codes using any method you like, including Twitter, email, Instagram, or simple word-of-mouth. The buyer enters the code at checkout, and the discount is applied to the transaction.
Adjust your PayPal fee. PayPal charges a standard commission of 2.9% plus $0.30 for physical merchandise sales. If most of your stuff is priced under $12, perhaps you’d like to apply for the micro-payments rate of 5% plus $0.05 per transaction. You can do so by contacting PayPal directly. If your volumes are high enough, you can also look into the merchant-rate pricing, which is 1.9% plus $0.30.
Enable pay what you want. If you’ve already established a price for your merchandise and music, you can allow fans to give a higher amount if they wish as a “pay what you want” system. According to the site’s statistics, fans will enter higher amounts for the transaction 40% of the time if they’re given an option.
WHAT EXTRA FEATURES DO MUSICIANS GET WITH BANDCAMP PRO?
Like many websites, Bandcamp really has two versions: the basic version that’s free to use, and a premium version you need to pay to access. The premium version is called “Bandcamp Pro.”
While you don’t necessarily need Bandcamp Pro to get good mileage out of the website, it never hurts to have access to additional features if you can swing it in your budget. Fortunately, Bandcamp Pro only costs $10 per month – about the cost of a few coffees from Starbucks, or a couple slices of pizza – so you don’t have to sacrifice much to unlock a ton of cool, useful features for musicians.
So, what features does Bandcamp Pro include? Here are just a few examples:
Batch uploads. This convenient time-saver allows you to upload an entire album’s worth of music at once.
Ad-free video hosting. With Bandcamp Pro, fans won’t see advertisements when they play your music or browse your merch.
Private streaming. Wish you could share a track with just a handful of select people, like family members and maybe a few journalists? With Bandcamp Pro, you can. All you have to do is shoot a message to the intended recipient.
Detailed statistics. Bandcamp Pro lets artists see what cities and towns their paying fans are located in. Musicians can also see the source of the sale (such as a Google or a music blog). These stats help artists visualize where and how sales are coming in – information that be can be used to drive sales and boost your bands’ profits.
The final tip for band camp use is taking advantage of Bandcamp Friday, an initiative started in Spring of 2020 as COVID hit musicians and creators so hard. They decided that once a month they would waive their percentage fee and let the artists keep all the money (except for PayPal fees) for all purchases within the set 24 hour period.
This means PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE in the days leading up a scheduled Bandcamp Friday. They always announce when it will be and many artists purposely choose to release a single or a whole new album specifically on Bandcamp Fridays because so many more people are using the site and looking around for new great music, why shouldn’t it be yours they’re finding?
For example, in 2021 Bandcamp will host Bandcamp Friday on September 3rd and each first Friday until the end of the year. After that, look up their plans for 2022.
ONLINE MUSIC PROMOTION FOR BANDS AND SOLO ARTISTS
If you’re serious about achieving a professional online presence for your music, get in touch with Planetary Group about radio promotion, consulting for musicians, or our other services for independent artists. Founded in 1996, we have more than 20 years of experience helping singers, rappers, and DJs reach larger audiences, get airplay, land interviews, enter festivals, book gigs, and score record deals. While we’re based in L.A., we work with bands and solo performers from all over the United States. We also handle international music promotion.
To learn more about how Planetary Group can help you polish your image and advance your music career, call our professional music promoters at (323) 952-5050 today.