Using BandCamp to Promote Your Music

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With the number of online music stores that have opened over the past decade – and the steady decline in CD sales since 1999 – there’s no questioning the huge (and steadily growing) demand for streaming services and downloadable albums. For today’s musicians, the importance of effective online promotion is greater than ever before. One popular music promotion tool for independent and up-and-coming artists is Bandcamp, a music streaming and downloading service that allows artists to share (and get paid for) their music at no cost. Our online music promotion service offers indie musicians some basic tips on how to use Bandcamp to promote your music on the internet, including how to make a good Bandcamp page, how to boost profits from Bandcamp, and an overview of the handy bonus features you access by purchasing Bandcamp Pro.

How to Make a Bandcamp Artist Account

Since it was established in 2007, approximately 350,000 artists have signed up with Bandcamp. According to the website, “Fans have paid artists $204 million USD using Bandcamp, and $5.6 million in the last 30 days alone.” 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, quick, and easy to sign up, 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

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Signing up for Bandcamp is fast, easy, and doesn’t cost anything. All you have to do to make a Bandcamp profile is follow these three steps:

  1. Visit the Bandcamp website.
  2. Click the “artist” link (near the top right corner of the homepage). This will take you to a new section of the site just for musicians. (You can also browse the “fan” section to see what similar artists are uploading – and charging.)
  3. Click the big green button that says “Sign Up Now” and simply follow the prompts from there. You’ll be asked to create a username and password, and supply your email address and the name of your band.

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 fun 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 four steps, and you’re good to go:

  1. 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.
  2. Add a detailed description.
  3. Upload an image for the cover. The image should be 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.
  4. 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.

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 for a small fee.

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).

Perhaps the better question is…

What Price Should You Charge on Bandcamp?

You might be tempted to set a steep price for the album you spent months or years pouring your heart, soul, time, and labor into. But according to Bandcamp’s website, there’s a price point that might tempt your fans to reach for their credit card. For digital albums of seven tracks or more, $7 is generally the recommended price.

Here’s how Bandcamp explains it:

“For digital albums of seven tracks or more, most artists will maximize their earnings by charging $7 USD. For EP-length albums (six tracks or fewer), $4 USD is the sweet spot. But again, there are exceptions, and if you’re an established artist who has seen recent success charging $18 for your digital albums, go for it.”

3 Ways to Increase Profits from Bandcamp Album Sales

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Now that your profile is up and running, here are three tips to boost your revenue.

  1. 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, or simple word-of-mouth. The buyer enters the code at checkout, and the discount is applied to the transaction.
  2. 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 micropayments 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.
  3. Enable buyer donations. 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 donation to support your art. 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 profits.

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.