a.k.a. The company has been sold (again), and there's plenty of reason to worry about the future of the platform.
[UPDATE: October 16, 2023 - News broke today that approximately half of the Bandcamp staff, including the Bandcamp Daily team, had been laid off. It seems that many of the concerns outlined in this piece are coming true even faster than I originally anticipated.]
A few weeks ago, I was in Miami, chatting with Nick León during the one of the stops on my North American book tour. When we got to the end of our talk and opened up the floor to audience questions, someone asked me about Bandcamp, and whether I had faith in the future of the platform.
While I can’t remember my exact answer, I mentioned that I’d been pleasantly surprised by how little Bandcamp had changed since its purchase by Epic Games more than a year prior. Despite all the handwringing and public worrying that had taken place—including right here in this newsletter—Bandcamp essentially still felt like Bandcamp, and some tweaks had even been made to help the platform run a bit more smoothly than it had prior to the acquisition.
Coming from me, that may have seemed like a surprisingly optimistic assessment, but I did throw in one major caveat, cautioning, “Things with Bandcamp are fine for now, but one day we’re going to wake up and see a press release that makes us all think, ‘Uh oh.’” At the end of the day, the future of the platform was no longer in Bandcamp’s own hands, which meant that the whole operation was at risk of being derailed by people with no real stake in the company, let alone the important role it had carved out within independent music culture. That’s a dangerous place for any platform to be, and it’s why I thought that nobody should feel too confident that Bandcamp, in its current form, would be around for the long haul.
Less than a week later, Epic Games announced that not only would it be laying off around 16% of its staff, but that it was divesting of several properties, including Bandcamp, which was being sold to Songtradr, a company it described as “a music marketplace company supporting artists.”