Less than two months since Bandcamp unveiled its proprietary livestreaming platform, the online music marketplace has another offering for its community of “hundreds of thousands” of artists (by the company’s own account). Bandcamp is opening up the vinyl pressing service it first rolled out as a pilot program in 2019 to a wider group of artists for the first time Thursday (Jan. 14), making the time-consuming and expensive process of producing vinyl more accessible to independent artists.
The announcement comes after Bandcamp tested the offering with 50 pilot vinyl projects, which resulted in shipping out 13,000 records to fans in 65 countries. That included pressings of Yazz Ahmed’s Polyhymnia Remixed; Amon Tobin’s Long Stories; Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s Grammy-nominated Ancestral Recall and Jim Guthrie’s Below (Original Soundtrack).
“We’re now ready to offer vinyl pressing to the wider Bandcamp community and have just enabled and sent invites to 10,000 of you,” Bandcamp co-founder/CEO Ethan Diamond wrote in a new company blog post. “We’ll make the service available to many more artists over the remainder of 2021 and look forward to helping you bring your vinyl project to life!”
The demand for vinyl continues to surpass expectations. Last year marked the 15th consecutive year of growth for vinyl sales, which totaled a record-breaking 27.54 million in 2020, up 46.2% compared to 2019. On Bandcamp, fans bought 2 million vinyl LPs in 2020 — double the number from the prior year, according to the company.
For artists and labels who sell vinyl on Bandcamp, those sales makes up 50% of their overall revenue from the platform, Bandcamp says. But because the process of producing vinyl is expensive and time-consuming (and therefore risky), many emerging and independent artists are unable to reap the benefits. Only 12% of the albums with sales on Bandcamp in 2020 offered a vinyl version, the platform says.
The Bandcamp Vinyl Pressing Service, which the platform rolled out to a small, pilot group of artists in 2019, helps by eliminating both risk and hassle. Artists can create a vinyl campaign with zero up-front investment, instead setting a campaign goal, which represents the minimum amount of money Bandcamp will need to produce the minimum run of 250 records, plus the funds needed to cover expenses like vinyl mastering and packaging design.
From there, the process functions similar to a crowdfunding campaign, in which fans commit money to the project in various “pledge” levels determined by the artist, which might range from purchasing a single copy of the record to a signed test pressing and more. Artists have 30 days from the creation of the campaign to reach their goal.
If that goal is reached, Bandcamp immediately coordinates production, ships the records to fans, fulfills digital and handles customer support. The company takes a 15% cut of every pledge from fans. Meanwhile, artists maintain complete control over the design and pricing of the record, of which Bandcamp takes no ownership. Artists can use the service to finance not just vinyl releases around new music, but to bring an existing digital-only release to vinyl or re-press a sold-out record.
As with the launch of Bandcamp’s livestreaming platform, the opening of its in-house vinyl pressing service makes sense given the company’s massive built-in audience. The platform caters to “millions” of users, according to a spokesperson (Bandcamp does not release specific user numbers). Bandcamp says it will automatically notify artists’ followers when they launch a vinyl campaign, and those fans can seamlessly purchase vinyl with their saved credit card and shipping information.
Artists and labels can find more information about the service here.