Is Bandcamp the Holy Grail of Online Record Stores?
New York Times By BEN RATLIFFAUG. 19, 2016
A lesser-known artist you love makes a new recording — say, the hip-hop group Clipping or the Chicago punk band Mace or the electronic composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. You feel you have to graft it onto your life. How does that go for you these days? Does streaming from Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal answer your needs in terms of audio quality and how well the artist is paid? Do you have a good record store nearby, and does it sell cassettes and vinyl, too? Do you only buy new records directly from artists, with a cash transaction and a handshake? Do you love spending time on iTunes?
If you answered no to all these questions, you probably know about Bandcamp, the online music site known for its equitable treatment of artists, and one of the greatest underground-culture bazaars of our time. From it, you can stream music to the extent each artist allows, or buy songs at a price set by the artist — which is sometimes “pay what you wish” — or order physical products from the site. The artist gets 85 percent. Always, the artist gets to know who’s buying, without a third party in the way. There’s also a social-media application on the site that lets the consumer know who else is buying and what else they’ve bought in the past. That is significant: You can triangulate your taste with other people, whom you don’t know, but whom you might come to trust.
All of which makes Bandcamp a strange categorical combination of Spotify, iTunes — though it is much smaller than either — a big independent record store and a small band’s merch table after a gig. I often buy music on Bandcamp, because I know I’m putting a sandwich in someone’s mouth. But a lot more often, I just listen. All of the time I’ve spent there has felt beautifully unmediated, and mostly dedicated to one kind of music
This online music site known for its equitable treatment of artists is one of the greatest underground-culture bazaars of our time.