When we compiled our bingo board of potential mergers and acquisitions for 2022*, we can’t say we expected Fortnite creator and Apple antagonist Epic Games to buy Bandcamp, a music marketplace where any musician can sell their music and keep 82% of the profits .
Bandcamp says it will continue to operate as an independent entity after the acquisition. Founder and CEO Ethan Diamond remains in charge, and according to his blog post, Bandcamp Fridays — a day when artists are waived of fees — will continue as normal, with the Bandcamp Daily editorial arm also remaining intact.
“Over the years we’ve heard of other companies wanting us to join them, we’ve always felt that this would only be exciting if they believed strongly in our mission, aligned with our values and not just wanted to see Bandcamp continue, but also wanted to provide the resources to bring much more benefit to the artists, labels and fans who use the site. Epic ticks all those boxes,” Diamond wrote.
Here are three visions of what this move could potentially mean for both indie musicians and the future of an emerging gaming company. Amanda, Devin and Alex weighed in on the news and worked to unravel what it means and who it might benefit for.
*This bingo board doesn’t exist, but honestly we should make one – tweet us your ideas.
Amanda Silberling: Big Money + Big Tech = Skeptical Artists
When artists see a platform they use to make a living being bought, their usual reaction isn’t, “Oh cool, they’ll have more money to produce better features to help me monetize my creative work.” !” They think, “Oh shit, not again.”
It happened when Google bought YouTube and when Spotify bought Anchor. Artists recognize that when a platform changes hands, even the smallest changes can affect their livelihoods. Why should artists trust Big Tech companies when Spotify payouts are bleak, OnlyFans made temporary career-threatening decisions for sex workers, and Patreon flirts with the idea of crypto payments, a move many of its creators strongly oppose?
Yes, of all the companies that could have bought the artist-first music marketplace, Epic is relatively anti-establishment — it has been in court to challenge Apple for taking up to 30% of its in-app purchase costs over the years. months. And given Bandcamp’s announcement of the acquisition, it honestly looked like it could be a good thing.
There’s room for collaborations between game designers and musicians (think Japanese Breakfast’s soundtrack for the game Sable), expansion of less-than-satisfactory backend tools, additional music discovery features, and – this is the journalist in me – perhaps a bigger budget for Band Camp Daily.
At least other artists, musicians and journalists expressed their concern at the time two editors of the small Bandcamp Daily made their Twitter accounts private and deleted all their tweets. Both editors later clarified that they were doing this for personal safety amid the big news of the acquisition, with editorial director J. Edward Keyes tweet that nothing changes in the Daily.