As I grew up through the Internet age, I witnessed the culture of digital music flourish. I also became the snooty nerd to condemn it all. A few interviews by Trevor Horn taken in and it wasn’t before long that I felt the revelation of quality of sound reign upon me. I set myself the mission of spreading the news…
But I annoyed people. Telling someone that their Mp3 walkmans are portraying their favourite records as over compressed, two-dimensional mush, isn’t a good way to make friends. So I retreated. Since then, I’ve stayed with my rather traditionalist approach to listen to music in physical for the most part. However, in recent months, I have become enlightened by a service called Band Camp that seems to have taken action to cancel out the things I dislike most about digital music.
To clarify, there are two fundamental things about downloading digital music that I have a problem with.
Number 1.) The quality.
This is something I touched upon in detail in my last article. I was exposed to quality of audio files when I started producing my own records, and I became consciously aware of the unjust lacking of detail that these files portray of your favourite records when some of them have cost hundreds of thousands pounds to make. A little while ago, the below image went viral and it effectively sums up my thoughts.
In the long run, people are wiling to sacrifice quality for convenience. If people are able to enjoy music this way, who am I to judge them for that?
Number 2.) The Money
Money is a grey area when it comes to digital music sales. It has indeed caused much debate, but the truth is, unless you are a well-established act on top of the competition, record sales are no longer a sustainable income for an artist.
Itunes, as an example may sell your album for £7.99. They will take half of that amount for each sale. If you are an artist that’s signed to a record label, you will be lucky to see any more than 20% of the half that Itunes shares. What currently ensues at the moment is an argument between artists and record labels, with the artist fighting for a 50:50 share. Hopefully that will be the case before too long.
However, whenever challenges arise, opportunities open themselves, and this is where Band Camp comes into play.
What this service does, is give the artist the power to directly sell and engage with their fans. In relation to issue number 1.) BandCamp’s downloading service gives the opportunity for buyers to choose what format they want to own, be that Mp3, Wav or Flac. You the fans, have the power to choose the quality.
Band Camp also allows artists to make the experience of their download as interactive as they want it to be. You can include Liner Notes and even videos to make the download, ultimately a much more tangible experience.
They also shine a positive light on issue number 2.) The money side for artists as equally as much as their fans. Whereas, an Artist may obtain 50% per unit sale in Itunes for a £7.99 album, they can sell their album on BandCamp for £7 and with the exception of a small admin fee, receive most of that money.
So ultimately through BandCamp, an artist can earn more from selling their album for less.
So is this service being used enough? I certainly think it’s becoming a more prominent feature for DIY artists, but I believe it can go much further. So if you are reading this and you are an artist, and you are signed up, keep using it and emphasis the benefits to yourself as well as your fans. If you don’t have it, research it: and if you are fan who wants a digital copy of an album whilst wishing to support the artist to the upmost, I would see if that artist has a Band Camp profile, and if they don’t…tell them about it!
Here is an example, I know the man behind this band, and he is seriously anti-download to the point where you will not find his music on any other digital service. So if he can be persuaded to sell digitally on BandCamp, you know it must be because they offer something different.
Whilst I may have been that anti-digital music nerd when I was younger, I have learnt to instead, not condemn it, but embrace it, and hopefully do my part to make it better for everyone else. Collective hats off to Band Camp…They are moving digital music forward in the right direction.