Epic Games has bought Bandcamp – what should we expect?
First of all, any acquisition comes with equal share excitement and trepidation; maybe it’s 60/40 in favor of trepidation. Whatever way you look at it, adding an unknown element to any situation encourages discussion and speculation.
I’m sure most music-makers are familiar with Bandcamp, whether that’s as a user or just conversational familiarity. So, the best place to start is probably with Epic Games, who they are, and what they do.
Epic Games started life as Potomac Computer Systems, founded by Tim Sweeney in 1991. The company was founded and operated initially, like many great companies, in his parent’s house in Potomac, Maryland, USA.
That’s to say, many budding entrepreneurs begin from their bedroom in their family home, not that Tim’s parent’s played host to any random person looking to start a business.
Potomac Computer Systems sounds a bit like an omnipresent corporation from an 80s movie; I think rebranding as Epic Games (now based in North Carolina) was a good call.
Epic Games is a software developer and publisher behind the global success that is Fortnite, Unreal Engine, and the ever-growing Epic Games Store.
All indications suggest that Bandcamp’s core features and values will remain intact, which I’m sure is good news to users.
Those core values include the following:
- Artist-first revenue model – 82% on average going to the artist;
- Creator control – control how you offer your music;
- Bandcamp Fridays – This will make some happy and irritate others who feel the much-loved promotion has now run its course;
- Editorial content.
The promise to keep certain things also comes the pledge to push forward with new developments. Those developments start with improvements to core functions/features such as album pages, merch tools, and payment systems. The less exciting developments like faster and more reliable payment/checkout services are the ones that will vastly improve the user experience.
New features might include live streaming and a vinyl pressing service. Live streaming is the one that I imagine will create the most buzz. If we look at the most effective ways to start trending online, we think of platforms like Tik Tok or Instagram Live.
Live content is powerful for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s a different level of connection with your fans/viewers. Secondly, it can take various forms; for example, you could share a short stream previewing/discussing upcoming music or stream an entire performance. Another great thing about live content is scheduling and promoting it to build traction.
Along with new/improved developments, Epic Games plans to expand Bandcamp internationally as an industry leader.
Once you get past the fear of change, the exciting part is speculating on what might be.
With Metaverse being the buzzword of the moment, it seems logical to consider potential opportunities in the virtual world.
The most direct connection would be creating music for video games, which many Bandcamp users already do. It’s not a stretch to imagine a company like Epic Games may find better ways to connect those media composers with the right clients.
We can then dive further into virtual reality and look at potential in-game events. Think of games like Grand Theft Auto and its online car meets or Fortnite and its virtual concerts. Now, imagine being able to sell tickets to those events. In reality, it all depends on how deep the integration between the gaming world and Bandcamp runs, but there are definitely possibilities to be explored.
If nothing else, merging with a giant of the gaming world should unlock doors to a new audience. As tech-savvy as most music fans are, gamers are even more so, which could lead to your content being shared more and gaining support faster.
Epic Games appear to have a genuine desire to take Bandcamp and make it the number one platform for independent musicians. From the outside looking in, it would also appear that a company like Epic Games could put up the kind of financial backing such a task would require.
The concern is that no one really knows the enormity of a challenge until they are right in the thick of it. We can look at failed attempts to rekindle the magic once cerated by platforms like Myspace as an example.
Bandcamp is by no means a dead technology or forgotten platform, but it is a minor player, relatively speaking. No one can say for sure that the road ahead for Epic Games vision will be without bumps. No one can be sure that they will stay the course if the project becomes costlier or more difficult than expected.
Making a living from music is a beautiful but extremely difficult thing, and musicians need to explore every potential revenue stream. With some luck, Bandcamp will provide a larger platform than ever with new and bigger opportunities for its users.
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资讯出处：Bandcamp Joins Epic Games - What Can We Expect? - Bedroom Producers Blog