Why should you sell your music on platform like Bandcamp that takes 10-15% commission when you could sell it from your own website and keep everything?
The answer is social sales, which we’re going to unpack in this article…
Giving away money is usually painful, but most musicians would (or do) happily give up 15% of their live income to a booking agent.
The expected trade-off is clear: the agent adds more than 15% of value through a mixture of:
- Increased fees
- More gigs
- saving you time
…so it’s a good deal.
What about record labels?
Similarly, many artists are willing to sign away sizeable chunks of their music to a record label in the hope (sadly unfulfilled in many cases) that this company will add more than that amount of value to the release.
So it’s natural when it comes to making your music available to buy – both physically and digitally – to question why you should do it on a platform like Bandcamp.
If you’re simply looking for a place send send a small group of existing fans, then maybe your own website makes sense.
But who releases an album and doesn’t have their sites set a bit higher than that: reaching and selling to new fans!
What are social sales?
OK, so first the basics (and excuse me if you know this…)
You upload your new release, send a newsletter or post on socials and your fans come to buy it.
That’s a direct sale.
You’d make that wherever your music is, because people are actively looking to buy it.
Social sales, on the other hand, are all where people discover your music from another source.
Specifically on Bandcamp, that is through community features which allow you to see what your friends have bought, who they recommend and who your favourite artists recommend.
If Bandcamp is like one big virtual record store, social sales are like asking your friends what new music you should check out.
But instead of looking over their shoulder or calling them up for advice, users of Bandcamp can see all this information, in real time, directly via the website or app.
Sources of Social Sales
There are a lot of cool features on Bandcamp which record-buying fans use to discover new music…
There’s the ‘Discover‘ function where you can browse by genre, much like you would in a real-life record store.
It wasn’t long ago that getting distribution so you could be found in record shops was a massive deal.
Now, you can be present in one of the biggest record stores in the world, ready for any curious jazz fan to come across…
Sometimes people don’t have time to browse everything.
For those situation, ‘tag hubs‘ are where fans can get the latest info from their genre of choice.
If you’re working hard to be new and notable on Bandcamp then you can easily turn up there…
Of course, as a fan, it’s cool to see what your friends are buying. But what about tips from your favourite bands?
The ‘artist recommendations’ feature allows you to do just that…
But whilst these three features are great, the real example of pure social sales come from the places which highlight what people you know and trust are actively buying…
As you’ll probably know if you use Bandcamp as a ‘fan’ too, the website and app features a music feed which allows you to see – in real time – what the people you trust are buying.
That’s a cool feature as a fan, but as a musician it can be a super valuable tool to reaching new customers because whenever someone buys your new album, the news is being broadcast to a feed that all of their followers can see.
Here’s how it looks in action:
Taking that one step further, fans can add you to their ‘collection’ and write a mini (Twitter-length) review of your album once they’ve bought it, which will appear both on their profile page and on your artist page.
Any self-respecting curious music fan on Bandcamp has spent time checking out what their trusted friends have been shopping for recently to see if they too should be adding it to their cart!
There’s real proof this works too: when someone buys as a direct result of your recommendation, they get an email to let them know!
So there you have it: some real-life examples of how jazz fans use Bandcamp not only to buy music they want, but to discover new releases they weren’t even aware of!
That’s all cool, but does it actually result in more money in your pocket as a musician..?
Social sales: The Facts & Stats
Here’s the big headline: according to Bandcamp’s website:
Think about that for a moment: 1 in every 3 sales on Bandcamp. In 2020, would have been around…
- 1,600,000 digital albums
- 660,000 tracks
- 333,000 vinyl albums
- 200,000 CDs
- 100,000 cassettes
- 80,000 t-shirts
Of course, it’s not magic: this doesn’t happen automatically.
That’s an average, which means all those musicians who simply upload their music and forget about it are probably seeing very little in the way of social sales.
But assuming you are putting in some time and effort on the platform and are hitting that average figure, let’s do the maths:
- You give Bandcamp 10-15% of your income
- Bandcamp give you 30% more sales
Seems like a no-brainer, eh?!
And that’s only taking the short-term view: these new fans and customers will also be notified of future releases which means your fanbase should continue to grow every time you put out new music….
Should you use Bandcamp to Sell Your Music?
All facts seem to point to yes!
Perhaps the strongest recommendation I can give it, personally, is that if I were releasing music I would be all-in on Bandcamp.
So if (and that is an important ‘if’) you are willing to dig into the Bandcamp community as a fan and use the various features available to your advantage, the rewards are plentiful, both in the short-term and the long-term!
Want to connect fan-to-fan on the platform? Follow Jazzfuel here.
International jazz booking agent, manager and host of Jazzfuel.
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