In this interview, we talked with Jazzfuel friend and touring jazz musician Florian Arbenz about his tried and tested methods on how to create and maintain a successful Bandcamp page, as well his first hand experience on audience development using online tools that are currently available.
As someone on a mission to release 12 albums with 12 different constellations of line-ups – with a Bandcamp-first approach which offers both CDs and vinyl – he seemed like a good person for this topic!
You can find the full interview below, as well as some links to his latest releases which feature the likes of Tineke Postma, Greg Osby, the Vistel brothers, François Moutin and Nelson Veras, but here are some takeaways that stood out for us…
- Bandcamp is a great community of music lovers who are willing to support artists and not just consume their music.
- To grow your Bandcamp audience, it’s important to work on drawing as many interested people as possible to your account, even if they don’t buy immediately. This can be done by regularly releasing new music and promoting your Bandcamp account through social media and other channels.
- While it may be harder to draw people to Bandcamp compared to platforms like Spotify and YouTube, the community on Bandcamp is small but very worthy.
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical career? How long have you been using Bandcamp to promote your music?
I’m a drummer and bandleader for many years. I did my studies in classical music and learned to play jazz in the old-school way, performing with musicians like Kirk Lightsey, Greg Osby or Dave Liebman.
I never really worked with a booking agent or a big label, most of my gigs are self-booked and most of my recordings are self-released.
What do you think about the Bandcamp community, what are the upsides and downsides?
I think it’s a great community of music-lovers who are into music and who are aware of the costs a recording & production of a CD/vinyl generates. Those people are ready to support the artists and not only consume their music.
What are the essential 3 things for an artist to check while setting up a Bandcamp account?
- First of all the page has to look good and clean, the texts should be informative and the prices should make sense.
- Then it’s good to know about the tools of Bandcamp. (Like communicating with fans, codes etc….)
I think personally that Bandcamp works better if you release music regularly. So if you only are up to release 1 recording, it doesn’t make so much sense to create a community on Bandcamp.
What’s been one thing that really helped grow your Bandcamp audience?
I think it’s quite crucial to understand that Bandcamp is just a Hub which allows you to reach people who are interested in music. If you don’t work on growing your community, it won’t grow just because you have an account on Bandcamp.
So it’s important that you try to draw as many interested people as possible to your account, even if they don’t buy immediately they will be informed about your future releases.
In terms of bringing new listeners to your music, how well do you think Bandcamp performs compared to Spotify, Youtube and social media?
Probably it’s harder to draw people to Bandcamp, but those people who are part of your community have a lot of respect for you as a musician!
So it’s a small, but very worthy community!
How do you see the future of music streaming & album sales?
I’m active in a small niche, as I play Jazz-music which sometimes may not be so easy to listen to….
Regarding this niche, I think Streaming helps a lot, because you can easily be in touch with any interested people worldwide.
Do you use Bandcamp as a regular listener? If so, what’s your favorite Bandcamp feature?
Yes, I do! I like the thought that we artists can support each other!
I think it’s great to have an app with a great collection of independent music.
Hypothetically, if you would have to add a feature to Bandcamp that will make the musicians’ lives better, what would it be?
Difficult question…. I think a more precise overview over plays could help. It also would help to exactly know how you could be featured on “Bandcamp daily”.
Thanks again to Florian for taking the time to share these insights. If you’re looking for more tips on this topic, check out our article for 8 reasons Bandcamp is valuable for jazz musicians.
About Florian Arbenz
Florian Arbenz is a Swiss drummer and percussionist known for his work with the acclaimed trio VEIN and collaborations with jazz greats like Dave Liebman and Greg Osby.
With an impressive jazz pedigree, Florian also has extensive international orchestral experience.
Alongside his straight jazz credentials (studied with renowned drummers like Ed Thigpen and Steve Smith) he draws inspiration from diverse musical traditions, incorporating elements from Afro-Cuban and Asian techniques into his playing.
Florian is on a mission to release 12 albums with 12 different constellations of musicians and is constantly pushing the boundaries of his own technique with an innovative focus.