Last week, industry speculation continued on whether Apple would be terminating its music download store, and if so, when. That continued despite denials by Apple, and raised separate questions about the future of music download giants like Amazon and Bandcamp. Separately, discussions also surrounded potentially aggressive and ongoing moves by Apple to wind its download store down, which would make a termination date moot.
This weekend, Bandcamp — one of the most important hubs for independent artists — addressed the issue in an email to members, while offering its broader views on streaming. The following is the complete email, as received directly by Digital Music News (note: play close attention to the last paragraph…)
"Bandcamp, Downloads, Streaming, and the Inescapably Bright Future
In light of a recent report that Apple will soon abandon music downloads (later denied, but undoubtedly containing a certain amount of inevitability), we thought we'd take a moment to update you on the state of Bandcamp's business and our plans for the future.
Bandcamp grew by 35% last year. Fans pay artists $4.3 million dollars every month using the site, and they buy about 25,000 records a day, which works out to about one every 4 seconds (you can see a real-time feed of those purchases on our desktop home page). Nearly 6 million fans have bought music through Bandcamp (half of whom are younger than 30), and hundreds of thousands of artists have sold music on Bandcamp. Digital album sales on Bandcamp grew 14% in 2015 while dropping 3% industry-wide, track sales grew 11% while dropping 13% industry-wide, vinyl was up 40%, cassettes 49%… even CD sales grew 10% (down 11% industry-wide). Most importantly of all, Bandcamp has been profitable (in the now-quaint revenues-exceed-expenses sense) since 2012.
Subscription-based music streaming,* on the other hand, has yet to prove itself to be a viable model, even after hundreds of millions of investment dollars raised and spent. For our part, we are committed to offering an alternative that we know works. As long as there are fans who care about the welfare of their favorite artists and want to help them keep making music, we will continue to provide that direct connection. And as long as there are fans who want to own, not rent, their music, that is a service we will continue to provide, and that is a model whose benefits we will continue to champion. We have been here since 2008 and we mean to be here in 2028. Thank you!
*Bandcamp is not a download store, and we very much embrace the convenience of streaming. When you buy music on Bandcamp, whether that's in digital or physical form (30% of sales on Bandcamp are for vinyl and other merchandise), you not only get the pleasure of knowing you're supporting the artist in a direct and transparent way, you also get instant, unlimited streaming of that music via our free apps for Android and iOS, as well as an optional, high-quality download. Your purchase is about direct support, ownership and access, whether that access takes the form of a stream, download, or both. So please consider joining us in never using "streaming" as shorthand for "subscription-based music." The former is an inevitable technological shift, the latter is an unproven business model."
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