People who love to buy music have a new place to hang out online. San Francisco-based Bandcamp launched new features Thursday that make the direct-to-fan service a bit more like a social network.
Bandcamp users can now follow artists, follow other Bandcamp users and explore the music collections of other people. And because Bandcamp is an ecommerce company, there is a new wish list feature, too. Before these new features, people had no way of keeping tabs on their favorite Bandcamp artists or albums they were interested in buying.
In a blog post, Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond explains the new features are a reaction against the idea of frictionless sharing espoused by streaming services. Bandcamp "hated the idea ... and set out to create the opposite." Diamond calls the new user pages a "social music discovery system based on the high-friction concept of ownership."
Bandcamp certainly has an old school approach to social media. The new features are built on the belief that sharing purchases matters more than sharing mere interest in music. A purchase signals a level of interest that's much greater than the interest that goes into a stream or a like. Anybody can listen to music these days, but not just anybody will actually part with money for it.
Other direct-to-fan services have a similar approach, although none have integrated social features like Bandcamp has done. From Topspin to Nimbit, do-it-yourself services place a great importance on selling music and merchandise. Income from streaming services can add up over time and with enough quantity, but independent artists can earn much faster by selling items.
Diamond claims this high-friction approach to sharing works. During the beta test, fans who created accounts increased their spending by an average of 40%. The best test group now drives as much sales to Bandcamp as all links from Twitter.
You would be hard pressed to find a more low-key company with Bandcamp's track record. Its artists -- from all around the world -- have earned almost $30 million to date selling downloads, vinyl, merchandise and even cassette tapes. Diamond tells Billboard.biz artists made $2.1 million in December alone, more than double the previous year, and the site now sells about 10,000 albums per day.