In a surprising turn of events, music website Bandcamp has been acquired by Epic Games, the video game developer most famous for the seemingly-ubiquitous battle royale game Fortnite.
Bandcamp is a music streaming and purchasing site, active since 2008. The platform is known for its “artists-first” attitude towards revenue. It has self-reported that artists receive a net 82% on average from every sale. BC is respected for enabling creators to maintain more direct control of their work. Creatives also get a higher percentage of royalties than on other digital streaming platforms.
Epic Games, founded in 1991, is a video game developer and publisher. They are most well-known for Fortnite and the popularization of battle royale-style gaming. With the acquisition of Bandcamp, Epic is moving into new territory: the music industry.
Although a video game company and an online music store seem like strange bedfellows, both companies emphasized that Epic Games’ mission is well-aligned with Bandcamp’s.
“Bandcamp has built an incredible community and business where up and coming artists can succeed thanks to the direct support of their fans, with one of the best revenue models and terms in music,” said Steve Allison, Vice President and General Manager at Epic Games. “This aligns closely with Epic’s approach to supporting creators across all media and enabling them to connect directly with their fans.”
Bandcamp co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond put it even more strongly:
“…While 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. We share a vision of building the most open, artist-friendly ecosystem in the world, and together we’ll be able to create even more opportunities for artists to be compensated fairly for their work.”
Bandcamp has been a vital resource for indie artists for years now. They easily allow creators to sell merch, distribute music, and interact with fans, all while keeping a greater level of agency than many other platforms allow.
The music website’s commitment to making sure creators see the lion’s share of royalties, particularly, has taken center stage. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, it has helped offset the large-scale loss of touring income. A case in point is Bandcamp Friday. These are periodic days where artists receive 100% of revenue generated by their work. The twentieth installment of which is tomorrow, March 4th.
News of beloved websites being bought by other companies can bring some apprehension along with it, and understandably so.
What will the future hold for Bandcamp?
In a blog post, Ethan Diamond assured users that Bandcamp’s services won’t be going anywhere. “Bandcamp will keep operating as a standalone marketplace and music community, and I will continue to lead our team,” Diamond said. He added that initiatives such as Bandcamp Fridays will continue as planned. Bandcamp also affirmed that they are working with Epic to develop new enterprises. Potential initiatives include live-streaming, vinyl pressing, and a greater international presence.