It’s rather late in the day for a company to jump into a new COVID-friendly business plan but Bandcamp has launched a new streaming initiative that may be the best yet for working musicians. And there’s enough built out here to present an intriguing new platform for a world beyond coronavirus, too.
In November, Bandcamp announced “Bandcamp Live” and it’s beginning to roll out now. Behind the banal title is a potent new livestreaming platform that may introduce a new revenue stream or largely perfect an existing one.
Bandcamp Live is a ticketed livestreaming platform — meaning artists can charge for admission to live broadcasts (or, it seems possible, even a pre-recorded one). Several platforms offer this service but this one is different for a number of practical reasons:
1. Thanks to Bandcamp Fridays — the wildly successful fee holidays held since the pandemic in which Bandcamp refused their cut of record sales and gave all proceeds to artists — a huge number of fans already have payment information on file with Bandcamp. This is the so-called “Apple Advantage” — when people store information on a platform, it makes future purchases much more likely.
2. These fans also have an account, and if they bought from you in the past, Bandcamp can notify them via email of your upcoming virtual show.
3. Since it’s on Bandcamp, merch and record sales are built into the platform and totally integrated into the livestream.
4. There’s a chat for fans during the stream — a crucial component of taking what we can of the live experience and carrying it to virtual.
5. You can use livestreaming software such as OBS to broadcast, which means that if you’ve already broadcast live on another platform, you won’t have to much to learn about doing it on Bandcamp.
In customary fashion, Bandcamp has also lowballed their fee for all this. They’re taking just 10% of the ticket price (which you can name yourself). YouTube takes 30% of all superchats during livestreams and Twitch takes 50% of all subscriptions, so this is a pretty good deal.
Obviously, this means it’s in your interest now to drive traffic outside of livestreams — meaning record sales, merch sales, etc. — to Bandcamp, as the potential audience of ticketbuyers will grow as more of your fan interactions happen there. But it’s been the position of this site that artists should have been doing this for awhile anyway.
Bandcamp Live is rolling out across the platform; artists who are signed up with Bandcamp should scroll to the bottom to request an invite or notification here.