Bandcamp! If you don’t love them, then there’s something wrong with you. Sure, the cut which they take from sales can be a bit high, especially after taxes, but the services they provide are unparalleled. Their stream embeds look the best, with perfect balance between album art and the stream itself, and their store UI is exemplary. Not only that, but they’ve been growing rapidly: in 2015, fans gave artists $139 million in total (since Bandcamp was founded that is) and almost $4 million in the last 30 days! Now, it looks like the service is taking its game to the next level by providing exclusive embeds. This means that artists can embed tracks that haven’t been released to the public yet, something which was unavailable until now.
Why is this such a big deal? First off, it’s mostly a big deal for people like you, who read outlets like these; in the past, we weren’t able to bring you that silky smooth interface when premiering, since the only tracks that were embed-ready were those already open to you as well. Secondly, it’s huge for artists: exclusive streams can now lead directly to their Bandcamp page, where people can actually buy their music. Remember when you had to scroll to the bottom of the article to find a Bandcamp/other store link, assuming the writer had remembered to put those in? Those days are over. It might not sound like much, but in User Experience Land (a magical place where all interfaces work smoothly) saving a few scroll actions is a big, big deal.
To understand the last advantage, a little aside is necessary. Most labels and sites use Soundcloud for their embeds for a simple reason: it offered the feature above, namely the ability to embed sites into a specific page without opening it to the public by other means. This is important because it creates traffic to the site hosting the premiere, to the label the band is on and to the band itself, creating a supply bottleneck while amping up demand. However, those Soundcloud embeds had a couple of glaring flaws: first, they were ugly. There was little you can do as far as controlling their size and the ratio of album art vs. stream was wonky.
More importantly however, it was very easy to “steal” them, thus making the notion of something being “exclusive” virtually moot. What does that mean? Simply put, even though the Soundcloud embed would have no way to “share” directly through the embed, one could easily jump into the html code of a webpage containing it, copy the code, and paste it into their own website. So, for example, if Heavy Blog premiered something, rather than other sites linking to our page, thus driving the traffic from other sites to us, they could capture all of that traffic themselves (most sites at least still provide a link and credit to the original site, but that does very little traffic-wise). Before you reach the conclusion that I’m smearing other music sites for a specific incident, I’m not. Every single music website, including us sadly, has done this in the past. Usually, it comes from aesthetic considerations: it just looks better to have an embedded stream than a link. But the end result is the same: you embed the “exclusive” right into your own article, link to the blog where it came from (that was always the established etiquette) and you’re done.
Self-plug coming your way, hot and heavy!
That’s over now. Bandcamp, in their scene-piercing wisdom, have added a site limitation to their embeds. This means that you can decide which site and stream the embed and it would work on that site and that site alone. This is nothing less than a complete game-changer, changing not only how artists streams but also how blogs premiere their music. Now, there’s only one thing left: everyone needs to start using Bandcamp. I’ve been saying that for a while, since their method of delivery and doing business is the best, especially outside the US, but now I mean it: if you’re an artist, move to Bandcamp. It’s worth the high cut they take: they’re now, even more than before, a crop above the rest.