Bandcamp music platform acquired by Epic Games

The popular music marketing platform, Bandcamp, a favorite of independent artists of all types, has been acquired by Epic Games, a leader in the online gaming world, it was announced yesterday.

Autonomous music makers have been devoted to Bandcamp since its launch in 2008, as the company operates on a premise that artists should be able to market their music directly to consumers. A great many bluegrass and acoustic acts have utilized this service, which charges only a 15% commission in selling downloads from their site. They also provide easy-to-use widgets to allow producers a simple way to include direct sales from their band sites or newsletters, and run several days each year when all proceeds from music sales goes to the creators without any commission.

Epic Games is the developer of the Fortnite product, and has likewise invested in making games available for online purchase, and allowing independent developers to market theirs through Epic’s platform. The recent success of Fortnite has found the company buying up several other game developers of late, including Harmonix, who market the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games.

In a message yesterday to the Bandcamp family, Ethan Diamond, founder and CEO of the company, assured users that nothing would change in their experience, either creators or consumers.

Bandcamp will keep operating as a standalone marketplace and music community, and I will continue to lead our team. The products and services you depend on aren’t going anywhere, we’ll continue to build Bandcamp around our artists-first revenue model (where artists net an average of 82% of every sale), you’ll still have the same control over how you offer your music, Bandcamp Fridays will continue as planned, and the Daily will keep highlighting the diverse, amazing music on the site. However, behind the scenes we’re working with Epic to expand internationally and push development forward across Bandcamp, from basics like our album pages, mobile apps, merch tools, payment system, and search and discovery features, to newer initiatives like our vinyl pressing and live streaming services.

Since our founding in 2008, we’ve been motivated by the pursuit of our mission, which is to help spread the healing power of music by building a community where artists thrive through the direct support of their fans. That simple idea has worked well, with payments to artists and labels closing in on $1 billion USD. And while over the years we’ve heard from other companies who wanted us to join them, we’ve always felt that doing so would only be exciting if they strongly believed in our mission, were aligned with our values, and not only wanted to see Bandcamp continue, but also wanted to provide the resources to bring a lot more benefit to the artists, labels, and fans who use the site. Epic ticks all those boxes. We share a vision of building the most open, artist-friendly ecosystem in the world, and together we’ll be able to create even more opportunities for artists to be compensated fairly for their work.

Though most users seem to be initially satisfied with this news, some have voiced concerns about artists’ rights, particularly noting that Epic had sold a 40% stake in the company to Tencent, a Chinese-controlled multinational media firm that also has part ownership in several record labels, as well as Spotify. Many claims about the infringement of copyrights from Chinese firms have been in the news, though Epic has insisted that Tencent has no access to their customer or creator records. SONY is also a large scale backer of Epic.

In a similar statement, Steve Allison, Vice President and General Manager, Store at Epic Games, had this to say…

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome the Bandcamp team to Epic Games. Bandcamp has built an incredible community and business where up and coming artists can succeed thanks to the direct support of their fans, with one of the best revenue models and terms in music. This aligns closely with Epic’s approach to supporting creators across all media and enabling them to connect directly with their fans.”

Artists who sell on Bandcamp and fans who enjoy purchasing directly from them online will have to adopt a wait and see attitude, hoping that what they love about the platform continues going forward.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.