It’s common knowledge that music sales right now are shifting more towards digital downloads. CD’s will soon become a thing of the past. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is irrelevant right now. Since this trend is occurring, we need to figure out how to best take advantage of it for music marketing purposes.
Over the years many new music websites and services have emerged, allowing artists to sell their music to the public via the Internet. The giant of them all at the moment is iTunes. Another one worth mentioning is Amazon. While these services are big and very popular among consumers, artists consistently make the mistake of thinking that these are the only outlets available to them. Their new album comes out and they think it automatically MUST be on iTunes or nobody is going to buy it. I’m here to tell you today that these are NOT the only outlets available to artists. While there are many others, I am going to talk specifically about one. This is going to sound like an advertisement for them, but those aren’t my intentions at all. I was so impressed by their service that I wanted to share it with everybody.
Bandcamp is a website designed for artists to upload their music themselves and distribute it. It has a ton of great features that I will go through and discuss, and best of all, it’s free! Some of the features:
1) Formats Galore!
Bandcamp offers your customers the choice of your music in 8 different digital file formats. These include mp3 320k, mp3 VBR High, mp3 VBR Low, FLAC, ALAC, Ogg Vorbis, AAC High and AAC Low. I’m not going to go into the technical side of things with what each of those mean, but you should just realize that this choice of formats is something I’ve never seen offered on any other website. If your customers don’t know what these mean either, they can just choose the “standard format” which gives them mp3 320k files. All the artist has to do is upload their album as lossless audio files and Bandcamp takes care of the rest of the conversions.
2) Price Flexibility
The price of the artist’s album is entirely up to them. They can let fans download it free of charge, have a specific dollar amount, or do the now famous “name-your-price” option (with a minimum amount set by the artist) that allows fans to pay what they want.
Bandcamp allows artists to sell both their physical and digital merchandise side-by-side or even together. You can create special packages that allow fans to buy something physical and something digital at the same time. The physical will obviously be shipped and the digital can be instantly downloaded right then and there. Just think of the marketing opportunities for this. “Buy this album now and receive a poster free!”
4) Download and Discount Codes
Download codes are unique. An artist can generate one and give it out for one free download of a single or an album. Think about the awesome opportunities you have with this. Say your selling merchandise at a show. You can say “buy any shirt and receive a code for a free single.” Something like this could also work in a partnership with another artist.
Discount codes are basically the same thing as download codes, but only give a certain amount of money off the purchase. The same concepts can apply. You can say “for a limited time, enter this code at checkout to receive the album at half price.” Maybe an artist can even tweet the code to all of their followers on Twitter. The opportunities are endless.
5) Bonus Download Items
Bandcamp allows artists to upload “goodies” that will then be distributed to the consumer along with the music they purchase. This can include things like PDF booklet’s, cover art and videos. This can immensely help give an album added value. “Included for free with this download is a music video for the song (insert song here).” Even things as simple as original lyric sheet scans can be huge for somebody that has a big following. Again, the opportunities here are endless.
6) Mailing List
At the artist’s request, Bandcamp can collect the e-mail addresses of everybody that downloads their music. This can then be later used to send out updates and special promotions.
These features are not the only ones, just the most impressive. In my opinion, no other service offers the amount of opportunity and flexibility that Bandcamp offers its users. For example, to get music on iTunes you have to go through somebody else that is going to charge you a fee. After it’s finally on, users won’t have the ability to download different file formats and artists will not have the power to set a price or give out free download codes. Bandcamp is free and puts all power in the hands of the artist. While it isn’t nearly as popular as iTunes and others, it cannot be overlooked when you are talking about digital music distribution and marketing. It has an insane amount of potential and I’m excited to see what it will bring in the future. If you have never heard of it, I urge you to go check it out right now and discover its potential for yourself. The power is finally being handed back to the artists. Thoughts or comments?