Happy BandcampFriday FaircampFriday FridayFriday FridayImInLove or just plain Friday ya'll
We, as many others, are suffering from a solid bout of exhaustion having endured ourselves and having attempted to help friends navigate recent substantial rifts in the fedi that can have a brutal effect on the connections and reach independent artists depend on. While the fediverse can be pound for pound a much better environment for organic interaction if you make the effort, it is also overall a vastly smaller overall potential audience base and when it gets even smaller, that can be worrying and threatening to artists. despite the fedi rifts there is love
Then, we were plunged straight into round three of the absolute horror show that is the “fall” of Bandcamp. As of now it is 100% functionally the same with minimal ToS alteration but fair enough has soured many. This had us again scrambling to support artists as they try to understand where they stand, where they might stand, and how they can maintain support and possibly balance some of the ethics they wish to radiate while surviving. first response prior to the dismissal of nearly every collective agreement employee
As independent artist advocates foremost, this often means suppressing personal preferences in order to help and support artists on the platforms or methods they feel are necessary for their work and health or what they indeed can navigate and manage. That is a chief pillar of radio free fedi's existence, to discover using the community supported station as a transparent layer, and then “GO AWAY”. Go away to communicate, interact, collaborate, promote, support materially and in good energies for soul nourishing.
This is our way of not being a walled garden, an algorithm, and extractive siphon, or a hyper curated dead-end of consumption with little meaningful impact for the artists, makers and indeed users at the bottom of the attention economy. The difference so many of you have made to so many others as a non competitive creative community is a testament to there being good people out there, possible good from an alternative social community space, and the power of collective struggle in the shadow of the surveillance capitalist digital behemoths that work so hard to divide us and extract our data, health and wealth.
It is never a bad thing for artist and listener agency to be at the forefront and that certainly got a major boot to the jaw with the writing on the wall for the likely extractive corporate enshitification of our last least worst central platform in Bandcamp given the context of the most recent owners and the horrific vitriol from some of the remaining managers.
As talking heads, casual and power users, artists and supporters attempt to discern what they can tolerate in a music discovery and consumption model, a base truth we must embrace is that there is no panacea. Use caution surveying the many things that will appear or re-appear with wildly varying deep motivations who promise to be good stewards of your work (or openly/historically don't!).
And let us all amplify empathy by not judging what others are using to survive without ample pause and concern for the needs and resources of the artists involved and whether or not they have specifically asked for recommendations which should never include passive aggressive reckons.
Examples include: “why aren't you using platform X? have you heard of Y? I can't believe you are using pay gateway Z? This part of what you are relying on to eat is shit and I won't use it.” and halcyon on and on...
These are not throwaway comments to artists potentially under informed as to any potential untoward behaviour upstream from them, overwhelmed by the thought of having to shift platforms and the often non-trivial and time consuming work involved, low on spoons or time to survey options, or who are just focused on getting some damn groceries this week and were desperately seeking support, not your reckons on how they should or should not be surviving.
There will never be a single monolithic thing that ticks all of your personal boxes. We should be careful not to expect or demand or dream of 1:1 replacements or mimics of unattainable models of scale or resource sink. There is either going to be some high cost of agency and sovereignty on the commercial and corporate side of the spectrum, or inversely community division, decision making powder kegs, burnout, liability overload and implosion on the possibly well intended community end. And everywhere in between could be rife with expectation drift and sideline pundits of all stripe. Don't be that person.
While RFF remains absolutely agnostic on posting the links and support methods artists provide, we are doing our best to walk the talk to not just explore what comes after, or between, but lifting up our comrades on our way to lifting up the community on our way to what things might come next. That means considering not just what is best for ourselves, or what we might be able to tolerate on balance, but also how we can help meet others in the same process toward sustaining support, while not silencing or losing creative voices (art saves lives!), and if possible finding our way to solutions that are not centralised for scale sake, and also not federated for buzz sake.
Federation as in fediverse has not worked and may never work well with regards to discovery, attribution, and artist agency in things to date like Peertube and Funkwhale. There is no need to federate media per say, that's much too clunky. By all means let us explore bolting on messaging and discovery layers ON TOP OF simple community or self-hosted repositories so that creators know at least at their own core and base, nothing dodgy is happening to or with their work. But it is absolutely not an answer to try to bolt on fiscal transactions to existing things that are not fit for purpose as artist media hosting, sharing, attribution respecting, discovery and support seeking tools.
And again, let us not ignore the constant struggles with fedi ephemera, burnout, deprecation, unknown webs of blocks etc that impact and affect the diversity of users with varying underlying platform knowledge levels very differently and heavily.
Shouting just do a federated “the thing” at artists is not constructive. Rest assured there are some concerted efforts underway in this space, but they will need time. Just as artists will need time IF they choose to explore new, different or a blend of platforms, delivery and support mechanisms.
While the scale and metrics of the walled gardens is overall chasing ghosts for many, it can be a necessary evil for purposes many of us do not consider. For instance, it is well and good to think that artists could somehow help earn a living playing shows if they are able, yet the first thing many agents, promoters, venues, etc will ask for is your corporate socials and streaming presence and metrics. Is that good and right? No. Is it a reality artists face? Yes. All food for thought as we consider what the buffet of solutions we should seek, build, consider, attempt to tolerate or support going forward with the health and sustainability of music and art in mind.
We face a number of complex issues at the intersection of ethics, agency, reach, usability, sustainability and paying the grocer.
We have said this on every #bandcampFriday, to know that every day is the best day to as directly as possible support independent artists. Please be understanding of the feed if and while these days still exist. It is hard self promoting as an independent artist, and communal support and promotion conduits such as these days have been incredibly vital for so many artists. Please know that artists asking for support in the best ways they can manage is 100% not condoning the poor form of the owners and managers of a place like Bandcamp that has often been their best rally point for support. artists are probably not horrible or deplorable just by proximity
Artists, please DM @firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to open an alt channel to talk out anything at all at this time. We can listen, we can find the right advice, we can find help via community.
Many of us are out here absolutely ears pinned trying to survey, organise, test what comes next regardless of where Bandcamp goes. That is because these events have helped many realise that the bad and the least worst options we have been using, just as well meaning coops and the like are always prone to rot or disappearance. What comes next should also not try to be a 1:1 of anything. It will most likely be a buffet of options that will require us to meet each other somewhere in the middle around our media gathering and artist support practices. They should offer us at a minimum better piece of mind over some combination of reach, portability and most importantly agency and determination.
Let us not belittle or bemoan artists who are experimenting with new spaces or tools just as we should not belittle or bemoan those still on Bandcamp or even bigger corporate platforms.
Let's emphasise artist support first. If you truly don't care about the human or the creative energy behind the music then mute some tags and stay out of the way as artists desperately try to gather the resource, spoons or help to sustain their energy to create or indeed their ability to survive.
If you do care, and many of you very much do, we should continue to do our best to support artists on the terms and platforms they can manage with the understanding that this will take time any way you slice it.
So happy Friday to you all. Give as direct of support as you can muster in whatever formats you can be amiable with, that artists can manage to offer. Even if it is BandcampFriday.
And as always drop in when you can and discover some amazing artists that would love to meet you and have your support in any format you have, especially a kind word! listen and discover at RFF
Ngā mihi me te aroha nui