Epic Games Buys Bandcamp

The gaming giant responsible for Fortnite and Gears of War has promised the two entities share a mission to build an ‘artist-friendly platform’

05 March 2022 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Bandcamp employees at an annual meetup in Arizona. 
(Richard Morgenstein)

What does Bandcamp’s sale to Epic Games mean for independent music?

03 March 2022 | RANDALL ROBERTS | Los Angeles Times

Since the announcement on Wednesday that online music distributor Bandcamp, a central hub for independent artists and labels selling digital and physical media, has been sold to Epic Games, the gaming giant responsible for Fortnite, Gears of War and the Infinity Blaze series, musicians and fans have been expressing concern that their beloved platform is on its way to becoming another victim of multinational consolidation.

“Honestly, this sucks. half the money i make off music comes from bandcamp, and even if things are fine for the next few months, this can only go in worse directions,” wrote singer Mel Stone in one widely quoted tweet.

The sale was announced on social media by Bandcamp CEOEthan Diamond, who wrote that the company would operate as a stand-alone entity within Epic’s ecosystem. Diamond, who did not disclose a sale price, will continue in his role.

In the statement, Diamond, who founded the company in 2008, attempted to assure the legions of Bandcamp devotees drawn by the platform’s artist-first model and its monthly Bandcamp Fridays event, when the company waives its share of sales to signal its allegiance to the plight of struggling artists.

Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond in a blue sweatshirt and glasses
Ethan Diamond, CEO of Bandcamp. 
(Richard Morgenstein)

Noting that artists selling on Bandcamp will continue to receive what he characterizes as “an average of 82% of every sale,” Diamond emphasized that “the products and services you depend on aren’t going anywhere, and we will continue to build Bandcamp around our artists-first revenue model.”

Selling to Epic, he continued, will allow Bandcamp to expand internationally and further invest in development across the platform, including design, mobile apps, merchandizing tools, vinyl manufacturing and livestreaming initiatives.

Diamond described Epic as “champions for a fair and open internet,” likely a reference to Epic’s 2020 lawsuits against Apple and Google for antitrust and anticompetitive behavior related to the tech giants’ in-app payment systems.

“Epic and Bandcamp share a mission of building the most artist-friendly platform that enables creators to keep the majority of their hard-earned money,” said Epic Games in a statement accompanying the purchase.

Despite the companies’ assurances, artists-rights activists nervously pondered the repercussions of the sale, which comes on the heels of criticisms of audio streaming leader Spotify over its affiliation with podcaster Joe Rogan and its payment rates to artists and songwriters.

“Too few companies have too much power in every part of the music business,” wrote the Washington, D.C.-based artists-rights group Future of Music Coalition in a social media thread, adding that “some in the music community have real frustrations with how Epic has dealt with music licensing in the past.”

Epic Games is flush with cash due to “Fortnite,” the popular multiplayer game introduced in 2017. Operating with a so-called “games as a service” model that generates revenue through ongoing micropayments, “Fortnite’s” success has enabled recent investments including the 2021 purchase of Harmonix, the creator of the popular “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” franchises. Epic’s gaming development platform Unreal Engine, which was developed by Epic’s founder Tim Sweeney, has evolved into a high-tech tool used in television series including “The Mandalorian” and “Westworld.”

All that technological might stands in stark contrast to the humble indie business that Diamond created to enable seamless online transactions between artists and fans. A beloved platform that earned its early customer base through its indie rock and experimental music offerings, its growth was financed by a single, modest infusion of venture capital during its early ascent. According to Diamond in a 2020 interview, Bandcamp has been profitable since 2012.


Bandcamp Joining Epic Games to Support Fair, Open Platforms for Artists and Fans

Press Release – Epic Games (02 March 2022)

Today, we are thrilled to announce that Bandcamp will become part of Epic Games. Bandcamp is an online music store and community where fans can discover, connect with, and directly support the independent musicians they love. 

Fair and open platforms are critical to the future of the creator economy. Epic and Bandcamp share a mission of building the most artist friendly platform that enables creators to keep the majority of their hard-earned money. Bandcamp will play an important role in Epic’s vision to build out a creator marketplace ecosystem for content, technology, games, art, music and more.

Check out this post on Bandcamp’s blog for more details.  

“Bandcamp’s mission is to help spread the healing power of music by building a community where artists thrive through the direct support of their fans,” said Ethan Diamond, CEO and co-founder of Bandcamp.“

In Epic, we’ve found a partner who believes as deeply as we do that the future of music, and art itself, depends on the creation of equitable and inclusive communities like the one our fans and artists have helped to build. We’re excited to work alongside the Epic team to accelerate the realization of our mission and pursue our shared goal of empowering more creators in a fair and open way.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome the Bandcamp team to Epic Games,” said Steve Allison, Vice President and General Manager, Store at Epic Games. “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. This aligns closely with Epic’s approach to supporting creators across all media and enabling them to connect directly with their fans.” 


Bandcamp is Joining Epic Games

I’m excited to announce that Bandcamp is joining Epic Games, who you may know as the makers of Fortnite and Unreal Engine, and champions for a fair and open Internet.

Bandcamp will keep operating as a standalone marketplace and music community, and I will continue to lead our team.

The products and services you depend on aren’t going anywhere, we’ll continue to build Bandcamp around our artists-first revenue model (where artists net an average of 82% of every sale), you’ll still have the same control over how you offer your music, 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.

Since our founding in 2008, we’ve been motivated by the pursuit of our mission, which is to help spread the healing power of music by building a community where artists thrive through the direct support of their fans.

That simple idea has worked well, with payments to artists and labels closing in on $1 billion USD. And 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.

Whether you joined Bandcamp recently or have been with us since the beginning 14 years ago, thank you for being a part of this incredible community, and we look forward to serving you for many years to come!

Ethan Diamond
Bandcamp co-founder and CEO

James Porteous

James Porteous is an author, photographer and researcher. Clipper Media News is a daily publicatioin featuring news and views you can use.

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