It boggles my mind that I can bring up Bandcamp anywhere and still get the response “band what now?” And yet it persists. Despite platforms that criminally underpay the musicians like Spotify and Apple Music becoming the norm, there are SO many reasons I can cite for making Bandcamp your new first stop for music from both new and existing groups, especially in the metal genres. Here are just a few highlights along with tips to get the most out of the platform.
Bandcamp is nearly bursting with free and name-your-price music from exciting metal musicians. I used to keep a list of the favorites I had come across, but it became unmanageable due to the sheer volume of these releases. Some might think that a cheaper album means lower quality, but I have lost track of how many of my new favorites allowed me to pay just a few bucks for music that was WAY better than the latest top tier releases. As you’re browsing, just look for “Name Your Price” under the “Buy It Now” option. I encourage you to fight the urge to freeload and give at least a dollar. It could add up. Even albums that have a set price tend to keep the digital album under $7-8 which is cheaper in many cases than most other options.
I’m just going to say it: the bands don’t owe you anything. They write the music so that YOU can enjoy it. We owe THEM, and the fact is that creating quality music takes a lot of work. It is a job. If you like a band and don’t support them either through buying their music or merch or attending a show, you are contributing to their demise. They have families to feed, just like you or me, and balancing a side job with the time it takes to create a stellar album is no easy feat. With that said, independent artists on Bandcamp only have to split the profits with the platform, who only take %15 versus other platforms that only give the bands pennies per sale.
Craving some new metal? From most areas of Bandcamp, you can click the “discover” link at the top of the screen to be taken to this page. From here you can browse by genre and subgenre, and then further sort by “Best-selling,” “New Arrivals,” and “Artist-recommended.” I have found so many excellent new releases I otherwise would have missed through this feature. It’s like having a local venue next door that has shows 24 hours a day.
Found something you like? Be sure to hit the “Follow” button on the right side of the screen. This will not only send notifications to your feed, but even send you emails (if you want) letting you know when the band releases new material and merch. If you like being the first to know about the latest music from your favorite groups, there is nothing more satisfying than waking up to an email linking you right to the music. You can also follow OTHER USERS who share your tastes and see when they buy new music that you might want to check out.
As someone who likes to comment on my music and track what I have, the Collection page is a delight. I know every platform has some version of this, but I like Bandcamp’s personal take on it. In addition to customizing, setting a profile, tracking your followers, etc.; you get a wonderful grid of the album art, ability to stream releases you have bought, and also the ability to write directly onto the album page and choose a favorite song. Right under each of your albums you will see this option…
…and then go to the album page to see the results. Another perk is that whenever someone buys an album as a result of seeing it on your page (this happens a lot on my own ever-growing collection), you get an email basically thanking you for “making something happen.” Very interactive.
An extension of your collection list, the wishlist is something you can link to or simply scroll to the bottom to find. On each album page, just below the album art, you can click the heart “wishlist” button to add it to your own. This will again allow you to revisit it from your page for streaming while you decide whether to buy it.
I get a lot of music in my mailbox for review, but my favorite way to receive (for the reasons listed above) is via bandcamp code. Many bands are still unaware of this feature and how to do it, but I can walk you through the simple steps below. Doing this will generate a group of codes that you can distribute to friends, family, reviewers, promoters, etc. The upside for your band? While a simple zip file only allows the recipient a chance to hear your music, a Bandcamp code now pins the album to that person’s page, which will in turn trigger the aforementioned notifications to their followers and virally promote your music to more than just the person you sent it to. Here’s how to do it (full tutorial here):
And so there you have it. These are just the features I find myself using the most on a daily basis, both via desktop and the excellent mobile app. But there may be more things others would like to share in the comments below. I hope if you never have before, this article gets you interested enough to give Bandcamp a try, and if you already use it I have shown you something you were not yet aware of. Happy hunting.
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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