Bandcamp Scheme

Bandcamp for Drummers
So, I've got a new release on the horizon for my little label undertaking and I have been doing a great bit of thinking about how I distribute the digital version via Bandcamp. While my goal has never, and will never, be to turn a profit at all costs (it'd be nice, but not necessary) I am curious about the mentality people have behind buying digital albums. Are you more inclined to buy an album if it's a Name Your Own Price with a minimum of $1? Or if it's marked as entirely Free? Imagine hearing an album you really wanted - what would your mental reaction be if it were priced at $5 just for digital files?

My main goal has always been to get great music out the masses. To me, that means distributing the music for free because there are people out there that won't even spend a dollar on music they enjoy. Should I continue trying to reach the masses or just reach those that care enough to spend a tiny amount? Not making any changes, just curious on your thoughts.


  • the approach that i'm taking with my recently finished album is to use topspin's social tools to give away downloads for free in exchange for email addresses and use that information to drive the selling of super high quality versions of the record ala 24bit wav files and 180 gram vinyl. creating bundles with a vinyl copy, poster, t-shirt, 24bit wav files and anything extra seems to work really well from what i've researched over the last half year in preparation. i'm more apt to pay 30-40 bucks for a nice vinyl copy, 24bit wav and a t-shirt than i am for a cd for 10 bucks or whatever. i'm also probably a niche market. i think 5 bucks for an mp3 download of an album is perfectly cool, but i buy tons of music.
    tate on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 11:06am
  • i think the $5/album rate is pretty good. low enough to entice impulse buys, but high enough to signal the album does have some value. in the name your own price scenario, i rarely find myself pricing close to what the band probably wants. i think it takes consideration of what your goal is. if you need/would like to make money, charge something. if you want people to hear it, undervalue the digital copies. i am not enticed by posters or tshirts. i dont know if this is atypical or not
    plainhuman on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 11:16am
  • I think offering people the idea to spend $1 on music (besides an iTunes single) is a slap in the face to the artist. More so than giving it away for free. In my ideal scenario I'd have soundcloud stream of the entire album that I couldn't rip or take with me anywhere and then $5 to get those tracks. If the album sucks I'm not going to buy it simple. I'm a big advocate for giving music away for free and think artists should do it more often, however also think there should be some sort of weed out process. If the artist is good then people will pay something for it. Just my opinion that $1 puts them on a shitty ringtone level
    madrid on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 11:22am
  • I sometimes get turned off when I see that something on Bandcamp isn't a free download. And honestly, if payment is required to download, I usually just move along. Why deter people who want to get your music? And a lot of times, I don't want to have to sit at my computer to listen to something, so being able to throw it on my phone greatly increases the chances of me listening to something. I don't see why an artist wouldn't just let people who want to pay, pay what they want to pay. If your audience isn't very supportive, I see how that would be personally & financially frustrating, but therein lies the frustration of being a professional artist, no? So if the goal is to reach the masses, I think pay-what-you-want is the way to go. That being said, I'm a proud owner of all of the YK Records releases and some of my favorite new tunes are the Norm EP and Aaron Robinson's Dying Art EP, both of which I gladly paid for.
    Collin on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 11:25am
  • Having bought cd's for $15+ back in the day, if I know I want an album then $5 is a no-brainer. That being said, I willingly pay $10 for an album I want. I also agree with the sentiment that $1 tells me that the artist (or label) doesn't value the music. A limited time free distribution, however, tends to make me think that the artist is proud of their music and trusts that it will in the end generate sales if given away to early adopters. Maybe I over-analyze this stuff, but that's my take.
    Troy on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 12:12pm
  • Happy to pay for music, and even happier to know that the artists are getting a larger cut of the sales. Personally, being asked to pick a price sort of freezes me, as I'm just indecisive. I would prefer different pre-determined price points, a la kickstarter. For some reason, the last few albums I've bought from Amazon have been 5 or 6 dollars - and every time i was surprised to see such a low pricepoint. It's kept me going back to Amazon for my digital purchases. Love how bandcamp gives the fan a bit more of a personal connection after purchasing. Sorry, No conclusive point of view from me, except perhaps not charging iTunes prices :)
    Marshall on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 1:47pm
  • $5 or $6 is definitely the sweet spot for digital albums - if i'm being asked to pay $10, i should be getting something in a physical (ideally vinyl) format. giving me a free download is nice, but i'm much more likely to actually buy an album if i can only stream it from the bandcamp page; if i download it to my desktop, it gets mixed in with all the other clutter i've downloaded and i forget about where it came from entirely. if it's good enough, i'll eventually realize i'm going back to bandcamp repeatedly and will just buy it. madrid is spot-on: either make it entirely free or charge a reasonable rate. paying a dollar for an hour's worth of music is insulting to the amount of time the artist put into the work.
    davis on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 5:53pm
  • and also, agreed with paul: i'm too picky about tshirts and wall-space is scarce. i don't need to spend $30 on a deluxe edition of an an album by a band i don't know too much about.
    davis on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 5:56pm
  • I agree with madrid. Free streaming to enjoy/experience the album online. $5 digital download. Highly reasonable. People spend $5 on a fast food meal that's gone in 15 minutes. If they're not willing to spend that amount for 30-60 minutes of music that they can listen to again and again, then they're assholes.
    MIchael Bolton on Monday, May 9th, 2011 @ 10:35pm
  • I also think that free-to-stream and pay to download are a reasonable route. What I would like, and I can't recall if bandcamp has this option, is for something like a $5 minimum but if you want to add extra to support the artist than you can. Seems like an easy middle-ground.
    JAson on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 @ 5:35pm
  • Over the years we have tried various bandcamp pricing models for our releases and a couple things stand out: - Success of one model vs another is partially dependent on the band. - Bands who already have a following do well with a name your own price scenario as they already have fans that pay for the album and balance out the freebie and cheapos. For the same band, we have switched the pricing scheme mid-way and consistently see higher over all sales $$ when you allow name your own price as opposed to set fixed. We have had people pay $20 or $30 for the same album that others pay $2 for, but it always averages out higher. - New bands benefit more from a stream for free and set download price. It seems that on average, when approaching a band they are unfamiliar with, most people like to try it first then pay a set $5 or $8 price if they like it. Always, always set the price as a minimum though. You don't want to prevent someone from paying more if the feel so inclined. - Even for bands that have a following, after the album has been out for a year or more we switched it back to a minimum price model. The reasoning is that at this point all the "fans" have already purchased it. So we establish a set value of the music and then people who REALLY like it, can (and often do) always pay more. Hope that helps. This is based off several thousand album sales on bandcamp from various artists and multiple releases from some of those artists.
    Scott on Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 @ 10:31am

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