Bandcamp, an independent music storefront and publishing platform, is joining Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite. It’s an unusual pairing and the second major music-related acquisition for Epic Games after it acquired former Rockband developer Harmonix late last year.
If you’re not familiar with Bandcamp, you should be. The music store is beloved for its artist-first approach towards digital and physical music sales, offering a much better cut of proceeds — a net artist revenue of 82 percent of all sales according to Bandcamp — and an easier onboarding process for independent artists just getting started selling their music.
Bandcamp co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond write that Bandcamp will remain independent, and besides aligning with Epic Games philosophically, the gaming giant is helping the platform “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.”
Good PR — Once you get over the hump of Epic acquiring a music platform that’s best known as a home for obscure indie ambient music and grindcore, the deal makes a fair bit of sense.
Bandcamp’s street cred as a “good platform” that helps artists make a living among a sea of streaming services that want to sell their music for pennies is hard to beat. Even before Epic’s legal battle with Apple and Google, the company tried to position itself and the Epic Games Store as doing things differently from its competitors (Epic lets developers keep 88 percent of the revenue they earn). Bandcamp only furthers that mission.
Will you be able to use V-bucks on Bandcamp, though?
Musical experiences — To speculate wildly, they also help build out the music pipeline Epic has into Fortnite. The game is well known for hosting interactive concerts for major artists like Ariana Grande. Now imagine selling your work on Bandcamp getting you access to a similar opportunity as an independent musician. Epic already has a team of developers and designers who specialize in translating music into interactive experiences in Harmonix. The pieces are all there.
Either way, Bandcamp getting more support to help musicians is not a bad thing. It’s whether or not they actually stay independent that matters. The company does a lot more than just publishing and distributing music, including maintaining an editorial staff that writes about and curates the site’s wide collection of albums and tracks. Further proof that a lot of elements need to be in the mix for a Bandcamp under Epic to feel like the Bandcamp people know and love.