An Open Letter To Epic Games Regarding Bandcamp
Dear Epic Games,
I couldn't help but notice that on March 2nd, 2022 your purchase of Bandcamp was announced. As a user of Bandcamp I have some questions and concerns.
Big tech companies acquiring independent businesses doesn't have the best track record. I think that much we can all acknowledge. While I do recognize that it may be overly cynical to declare Bandcamp doomed at this early stage, I think the fears expressed by man of Bandcamp's users are legitimate.
Most of the fears around your purchase revolve around whether Bandcamp will be sticking with its original mission. In the blog post announcing the sale Bandcamp's mission is said to be
help spread the healing power of music by building a community where artists thrive through the direct support of their fans. Will artists and their music still be the focus now that you are in control?
One thing that might help is for a road map to be released. This road map would include both technical improvements and new features but also how Bandcamp plans to continue making money in the future. Will the business model be changing?
I would also ask if your company will be using some of its resources to improve Bandcamp for all. In the blog post announcing the sale it is stated that
Bandcamp Fridays will continue as planned, and the Daily will keep highlighting the diverse, amazing music on the site. However, behind the scenes we’re working with Epic to expand internationally and push development forward across Bandcamp, from basics like our album pages, mobile apps, merch tools, payment system, and search and discovery features, to newer initiatives like our vinyl pressing and live streaming services. I hope this is the case, but according to a Twitter thread from the artist Vektroid there is reason to be skeptical. Will Bandcamp be better in the future than it is now?
Honestly I just really encourage you to not slowly destroy what has been built. Especially since there is no current alternative to Bandcamp that its users can just switch to. The closest would be HDtracks or 7digital but those do not have a focus on independent artists and honestly don't seem to be anywhere near what Bandcamp is doing.
So what is your company's plan for Bandcamp? In an Ars Technica article on the sale it is speculated that Bandcamp could become a part of the Unreal Engine's asset store. Giving artists a way to easily sell music rights to video game creators is not a bad thing, but it would have to be done intelligently in a way that benefits artists.
To end this letter I will leave you with some further reading. This article compares Bandcamp with Spotify. I would recommend reading it as the article talks about how Bandcamp can grow without becoming a music streaming service or abandoning its original mission. Thank you for reading.
This work by Thomas Lloyd is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
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