Bandcamp, the "direct-to-band" marketplace started in 2008 by Ethan Diamond and Shawn Grunberger, has hit a significant milestone for any music business involved in actually selling music, having paid out $100 million to its artist clients since launching.
Diamond tells Billboard that the platform's sales volume "works out to about 16,000 records a day. One every five seconds, twenty-four-seven." Diamond says that over the past year, sales have increased 30 percent and average $3.5 million per month. That growth is notable -- every quarter, the wider business reports contracting sales. The company has been profitable since 2012, he says.
The site serves a wide subsection of the independent music community -- from punk rock in Raleigh (Whatever Brains, embedded below) to lush calm from Canberra (Moon Landing) -- many who make music that may be too out-there, or too interesting, for mainstream appeal.
The company began, like many basement record labels, as a way for a friend to easily distribute their art. "In the earliest days, it started because there was a band I really liked," says Diamond. "This was 2008, when you have MySpace, Imeem, those sites. Very little choice if you wanted to go on your own. What you ended up with was somebody else's logo, advertisements -- someone else's identity. If you wanted to do it on your own you had to hire a designer, an engineer. It seemed nuts."
Roughly a year after beginning, "May of 2009," Diamond tells Billboard, "that month, fans gave artists about $12,000," says Diamond. That was the first time we passed $10,000 mark," describing his elation at the relatively modest milestone.
Asked about the current tumult and turmoil around streaming, and artist after artist bemoaning the meager payouts those services allegedly provide, Diamond points to fans' desire "I think our growth -- if you're giving fans ways to directly support artists, they're going to take you up on it. There's a lot of other ways out there which are very indirect."
Bandcamp plans to expand into artist subscription services, letting its clients offer portions of their back catalogs as incentives to sign up. Fans would receive everything that artist releases afterwards.
For a company that gives fans the second-most direct way to support their favorite artists (the first would be buying a record directly from the singer's hands, probably behind a merch table), it's a proof-of-simple-concept: people like art, and will probably pay for it.