bandcamp and where to for artist agency, listener choice, general agency and ownership
As we've said there are so many options out there and we do not want to endorse any single model as this forced shakeup of the last least worst centralised platform goes to the vultures.
Artists need to do whatever they can manage and navigate this landscape so they can reach who they can, garner the support they need and hopefully also be able to continue creating. Friends, listeners, supporters need to do our best to continue to seek and support as amiably as we can amidst most probably pending fragmentation.
Those that are decoupling or de-focusing from #bandcamp have been considering a wide array of competing or fledgling music sites, ko-fi, itch, funkwhale, self hosting raw files, self hosting Faircamp, self hosted e-commerce shops and many more.
There was already quite a few competing projects in various states out there. Now there is going to unfortunately be a lot more space for more fedi infighting, that seldom artist centric grinding socials armchair punditry, “cooperative” collapse, overblown expectations on integration function, reach, scale, fiscals, et al.
“Just build a Fedi Bandcamp” is a bit of a flawed premise on a few terms mainly for expectations:
– pure Fedi music discovery will continue to be a constant struggle for artists just as it is now for their artist identity due to federation anomalies, ephemeral servers, platform variance, and admin wars
– Bandcamp had 5 million+ artists from 15+ years of operation which was enough discoverability scale for some, yet still no where near the “discoverability” of platforms where you can rub virtual shoulders with and fund a 2nd yacht for Rihanna's lawyers, because as artists we are often desperate for metrics to try and survive
– fiscal splitting, holding, administering is a big ask and liability and consensus on standard methodology will always be a minefield
There have already been buckets of failed cooperative music sites some with pretty strong initial momentum or funding. Once money gets involved in terms of collecting on behalf, distributing, and esp if trying to be global, that is just a tonne of liability and hassle. So there is immediate issues of scale in nearly every commercial proposal.
We are also very concerned with the space, stress and oxygen created by the latest Bandcamp shitsplosion as rocket fuel for a huge influx of widely varying motivations to quickly enter the space and fill the gap and etc etc jargon. So whatever you are considering doing out there, please be vigilant of where you are putting your work, with whom and how clear or unclear they are about what they are doing with it.
This does not exist yet, and is also not an endorsement, but given the rather clear indications of what the project is not going to be and the historical context of the instigators @email@example.com and @djsundog this is a pretty good barometer of how we'd like to see projects sound.
We fully understand if you have not the spoons or time to infinitely survey the landscape or contribute to x number of alt, new, emerging platforms to see what sticks.
If you need some help or want to help with a simpler non storefront based independent stop gap or maybe beyond please read on. While you will need to point to it from other socials/sites/platforms it is doable now and without the pitfalls of massive expectations of large silo integration, or extra or more fiscal cuts. If not, cheers for stopping by and please do you best to discover and support independent artists.
In the interim and after well more than just this past month surveying artist options, for our PERSONAL tolerance and state, faircamp static music catalogue site generator is the best we can fathom on balance as a rapid and ethical not bandcamp option for good file downloading, embed and share, easy to advertise, strong at honesty box or code locked model. It is attractive to a number of us who are less concerned with the very real for some artists, unrealised by others, discovery benefits of proximity to commercial, corporate, tracking, metrics based and popular walled gardens.
AGAIN, artists need to do whatever they need to do for survival! The scenario for some of us around RFF, while we also would like to secure food and shelter, is a less shop and metrics focused, agency and empowered approach.
Our hope is to extend that artist ownership narrative, by potentially removing some tech barriers to effectively do some basic self hosting for their music with just a bit of help on the tech side from RFF.
It's just an option. It may be complimentary to other things you are doing. It may be a lifeline to do something at all if you cannot or will not want to deal with server gymnastics to fully self-host and may want to opt-out from the corporates.
We have already tested the infrastructure required to do this and the storage and naming models and onboarding scenarios. It's a very modest setup and if each participating artist gave literally a couple bones per month, less than even the cheapest VPS or shared hosting to do it yourself, looks positive for both sustaining and scaling.
If you have a smallish catalogue, we are very happy to setup for free, sliding scale, or whatever you can donate to our human. All you need are basically zips (from Bandcamp even) of your wav or flac and some text and links you want to present around your work and maybe some help uploading your work to a staging location. That's all you need for us to deploy this on your behalf. If you have a massive catalogue there will need to be some considerations for setup and hosting as depending on preferred and amount of file formats, time and storage can balloon.
While there is the option to have one big “instance” kind of like a label model, depending on uptake you'd be buried by release date but could effectively filter or share just you via
More realistically, we will deploy individual Faircamp bundles for each artist to that same kind of url, and this will allow for more custom messaging and info around your work. We could help point another domain or subdomain of yours as well.
So if there is an RFF Faircamp “as a community service”
What is IS:
-Simple and clean repository of your music. Nice to wrap in another of your sites or quite tidy standalone
-Full track preview playing
-share your overall home or inidivual release links
-Non-exclusive for rad independent fedi present artists
-A hopefully appreciated and trusted banner of RFF as a fedi community powered non-commercial service
-Effectively self-hosted, some huge platform itself isn't using your stuff weirdly
-Agency, you own the narrative and the presentation
-Easy downloads in multiple formats that can scale as you like and as infra allows. More adoptors/donors = more options going forward.
-Clean links to advertise and promote, obscured and scramble-able links for download files
Options for offering files:
just as it says
At the front of your faircamp page you might say everything is free grab, or donation requested or ask a specific price. You can choose to link or embed donation and payment widgets or link to any chosen platforms, liberapay, ko-fi, stripe, or anything else as a link.
You can have a soft pay curtain that offers payment or donation request ahead of each download.
-Preview only and codes for download
A place to hold, preview, link your catalogue but it is not immediately downloadable with a a code you provide based on whatever means you wish
What it AINT:
-A shop persay, no merch, no shopping cart, no local one click sales, although widgets to other pay and donation gateways work!
-A streaming service or app
If you want to trail blaze a loosely RFF banner'd Faircamp community as a service type thing, just DM the station @firstname.lastname@example.org . We only need an handful of artists and minutes of their time to provide the material we can then onbaord to make it worth launching. If that does not happen, we are still happy to help advise or comfort from our own experience to those going it alone if you have access to some hosting and storage.
We are a community. If this happens would you want to help with artist onboard advising, helping gather materials for artists, want to sponsor some slots for artists in tough situations to come onboard? Also DM the station.
We'll see what comes in and follow up post if it's a go or things are just a bit too tepid.
We are here for you if you need to talk out how you are navigating fedi issues and visibility: https://blog.radiofreefedi.net/despite-the-recent-timelines-there-is-fedi-love-and-it-is-you
We are here for you if you are struggling with platform fatigue and need a empathetic yet critical ears to talk out your strategy for digital media: https://blog.radiofreefedi.net/urging-calm-and-support-for-the-artists-we-love-in-the-face-of-the-latest
And to be a broken record:
At this latest concerning nexus it is important to do our very best to support independent artists in the ways they encourage if we can be at all amiable.
Ngā mihi me te aroha nui