Music Fans Worried About Epic Games’ Acquisition of Bandcamp

The Oakland-based company, which also operated a physical record store and performance space on Broadway before the pandemic, has one of the few artist-friendly distribution models in the industry. Although you can stream tracks for free, the site tries to steer the listener towards purchasing music, either digitally or in physical media, with an average of 82% of net revenue going directly to artists.

So the music industry internet let out a collective gasp when it was announced Wednesday morning that Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, Gears of War and Unreal, had acquired Bandcamp. The deal was announced by Bandcamp CEO and co-founder Ethan Diamond in a blog post that lacked detail but highlighted a shared vision with Epic to build “the most open, consumer-friendly ecosystem artists in the world”.

For now, nothing looks fundamentally different on the Bandcamp site, and if the company’s word is to be taken, the core mission of the company will not change. Bandcamp Fridays, a pandemic-era initiative in which one day a month the service waives most of its fees for artists, will continue. Its editorial operation Bandcamp Daily, one of the few remaining strongholds of music writing on the internet, is also secure for now. According to the CEO, the merger will broaden its international reach, improve systems such as mobile apps and discovery features, and support its vinyl pressing and live streaming operations.

When reached for comment, Epic Games did not comment on questions regarding how this might open up video game sync opportunities for artists or ideas for integrating streaming music players in future releases. games.

As expected, music critic Twitter responded with plenty of predictions about where the merger might lead. Those who trace the money noted that Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent, which owns 40% of Epic, also has a nearly 10% stake in Spotify. Others noted that Epic could help fix the issue of not being able to purchase albums on the Bandcamp app, as well as help implement a playlist feature, but adding a standalone streaming player could undermine album sales. Eagle-eyed observers noted several writers from Bandcamp’s editorial team deactivated their accounts Wednesday, but Bandcamp Editorial Director assured that the staff are not going anywhere.

For many fans, Bandcamp independence and modest size were part of the call, which puts him in danger of entering the realm of his too big to be responsible peers like Spotify. There is also a risk that Bandcamp will succumb to some of the pitfalls facing SoundCloud, including ads, sample detection, and premium subscription models. And there is also the risk that every musician on the platform will become a playable character in Fortnite. Additionally, many commentators predicted that Bandcamp would enter the world of NFTa decision that would in fact be well aligned with its mission of reward creators.

It’s natural to be skeptical of any acquisition like this, but despite all the Twitter doomsayers, the details of the announcement are so thin that the company’s future is really anyone’s guess. The only thing that is certain? This Friday would be a great day to head to the site to support your favorite band.

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