Business

Here's How Bandcamp's New Livestreaming Platform Stacks Up

Bandcamp Live
Courtesy Bandcamp

Bandcamp Live

Artists will receive 100% of their ticket sales through the end of March 2021, after which Bandcamp will collect 10%.

Independent music marketplace Bandcamp is getting into the livestreaming game with the launch of its own ticketed livestreaming platform, Bandcamp Live, the company announced today (Nov. 17).

As it enters an already-crowded market for livestreaming platforms, Bandcamp plans to set itself apart by focusing on ticketed (never free) shows, capitalizing on its built-in audience -- "millions" of users around the globe, according to its website -- and continuing to gear itself towards independent acts.

"Hundreds of thousands of artists have already built passionate and loyal communities of fans on Bandcamp, and those fans support them directly because it’s so easy to do so, and they know the money spent on music and merch goes directly to the artist," Bandcamp Live product manager Max Mockett tells Billboard. "We wanted to bring the same approach to livestreaming, given that artists are unable to tour at the moment."

Artists are free to choose the ticket price for their shows, with the minimum fee set at $1, and can also choose to accept fan donations on top of the baseline price. Bandcamp takes a 10% fee on all ticket sales, although it will waive that fee entirely until March 31, 2021, which marks roughly one year since the pandemic halted touring. There are no hidden service fees on purpose: "We think our revenue share approach is much fairer and more transparent," Mockett says.

When an artist announces a show, Bandcamp will alert all of the artist's followers on the platform, who can seamlessly buy tickets with their existing accounts (and saved credit cards). Any new buyers automatically become followers -- meaning they will be notified of any future releases and livestreams -- and have the option to join the artist’s mailing list.

Artists can also peddle their music and merchandise through a virtual merch table which appears immediately beneath the livestream, meaning that fans don’t need to click out of the livestream in order to browse items (although purchases require a separate window). Whenever a fan makes a purchase, Bandcamp notifies everyone in the livestream’s virtual chat box "to celebrate their support," Mockett says, "which in turn can often lead to more support."

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The merchandise component will be key to the offering, Mockett adds, since the platform’s pilot phase indicated that artists often make as much money from merch and music sales during a livestream show as they do from ticket sales. For all sales on Bandcamp -- whether in a livestream or not -- the company surrenders 80-85% of revenue to the artist, and pays out daily.

Lastly, artists will have access to data culled from each livestream, helping them identify audience demographics, geographic reach and more.

While these features are not necessarily new to the livestreaming industry, Mockett says Bandcamp Live is tailored to help solve some of the livestreaming challenges he has noticed artists struggle with over the months since the pandemic began.

"We saw that artists were often finding it difficult to build or even maintain an audience between shows when trying out new platforms. We also saw that artists were coming up with fairly hacky ways to sell merch during shows -- often by linking to Bandcamp in the chat," he says. "By bringing live streaming to Bandcamp in an integrated way, we think we’ve solved these issues, putting the community experience and virtual merch table front-and-center."

The announcement follows -- and was in part inspired by -- the response to Bandcamp Fridays, a campaign through which the company has waived its revenue share on all sales for one day every month since March, in light of the financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Bandcamp has paid out $35 million directly to artists over eight total Bandcamp Fridays, in addition to the $126 million fans have paid artists on Bandcamp since the pandemic began.

Bandcamp Live begins rolling out to select artists today, and will become available to all artists in the coming months. Artists interested in participating can find out more here.