When we compiled our bingo board of potential mergers and acquisitions for 2022*, we can’t say we anticipated that Fortnite-maker and Apple antagonist Epic Games would purchase Bandcamp, a music marketplace where any musician can sell their music and keep 82% of the profits.
After the acquisition, Bandcamp says it will continue to operate as an independent entity. Founder and CEO Ethan Diamond will remain in charge, and according to his blog post, Bandcamp Fridays – a day when fees are waived for artists – will continue as normal, with editorial arm Bandcamp Daily remaining intact as well.
“Over the years we’ve heard from other companies who wanted us to join them, we’ve always felt that doing so would only be exciting if they strongly believed in our mission, were aligned with our values, and not only wanted to see Bandcamp continue, but also wanted to provide the resources to bring a lot more benefit to the artists, labels, and fans who use the site. Epic ticks all those boxes,” Diamond wrote.
Here are three views on what this move could possibly mean for both indie musicians and the future of a rising gaming company. Amanda, Devin and Alex weighed in on the news, working to unspool what it means and who it might benefit.
*This bingo board doesn’t exist, but honestly, we should make one – tweet us your ideas.
- Amanda Silberling: Big money + Big Tech = skeptical artists
- Devin Coldewey: Epic wants to be the organic, free-range alternative
- Alex Wilhelm: Let’s see what Bandcamp can do with money, reach and power
Amanda Silberling: Big money + Big Tech = skeptical artists
When artists see that a platform they use to make a living is being acquired, their usual reaction isn’t, “Oh, cool, they will have more funds 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 ownership, even the smallest tweaks can impact their livelihoods. Why would artists trust Big Tech companies when Spotify payouts are dismal, OnlyFans temporarily made career-endangering decisions for sex workers, and Patreon flirts with the idea of crypto payments, a move many of its creators are strongly against?
Yes, of all companies that could’ve bought the artist-first music marketplace, Epic is relatively anti-establishment – it’s been in court calling out Apple for snatching up to 30% of in-app purchase fees for months. And from Bandcamp’s announcement of the acquisition, honestly, it seemed like it could be good.
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 – maybe a bigger budget for Bandcamp Daily.
Other artists, musicians and journalists expressed concern when at least two editors of the small-staffed Bandcamp Daily made their Twitter accounts private and deleted all of their tweets. Both editors later clarified that they did this for personal safety amid the big news of the acquisition, with editorial director J. Edward Keyes tweeting that nothing is changing about the Daily.