The American online audio distribution platform Bandcamp is said to be in heavy waters after being acquired by Songtradr – if you have to believe many musicians – but is it really?
Founded in 2007 by Oddpost co-founder Ethan Diamond and programmers Shawn Grunberger, Joe Holt and Neal Tucker, Bandcamp was initially acquired by Epic Games in March 2022, which sold the company to Songtradr in 2023 following significant layoffs at Epic Games in September 2023. The sale led to employment uncertainties for Bandcamp staff, with only about half receiving job offers from Songtradr.
Songtradr itself is a leading music licensing platform, connecting artists with brands and creators for licensing purposes. As of 2019, it was the world’s largest such platform, housing over 400,000 artists from 190 countries, and facilitating music licensing for various media projects. Artists on Songtradr can upload their music and set their own licensing fees.
Bandcamp post-acquirement by Songtradr
The reaction to Bandcamp’s acquisition by Songtradr and the subsequent layoffs has been met with significant concern and criticism from both the music community and Bandcamp’s staff. The layoffs, which affected approximately half of Bandcamp’s workforce, have been a major point of contention. Many of these laid-off employees took to social media to express their disappointment and frustration, revealing a sense of betrayal given the prior assurances about the continuity of operations at Bandcamp.
The layoffs included key members of Bandcamp’s staff union, Bandcamp United, which has since filed an unfair labor practice violation claim with the National Labor Relations Board against Songtradr and Epic Games.
CEO Paul Wiltshire of Songtradr however has announced that he plans to introduce licensing opportunities to Bandcamp artists, potentially broadening their reach and income. This move, focused on enhancing artists’ control over their music rights and revenue, actually dovetails with Songtradr’s mission of simplifying music licensing and boosting the value of music rights.
In an interview Wiltshire explains that Songtradr’s strategy has been buying companies (such as Bandcamp) “that really marry that vision of simplifying licensing.” And he adds: “The strategy around Bandcamp was: We’re seeing a trend in the market where music is becoming increasingly important in brands and games and fitness apps and meditation apps, all these different touchpoints. And we’ve seen an increased trend in brands in particular: They want to know about the artist who’s behind the music.”
Songtradr has also committed to maintaining popular Bandcamp initiatives like Bandcamp Fridays, which enhance earnings for artists and labels: “We looked at the business model, and we love the business as it is; there’s no plans to change the existing model. What we wanted to do was connect licensing to the Bandcamp offering.”
Licensing via Songtradr would be an opt-in only basis for the artists so that they continue to control their rights and control their destiny. “We’ve seen what happens when an independent artist has a license it can be quite transformational in terms of streaming numbers. We’ve licensed music to TikTok and suddenly an artist has blown up unexpectedly because brands got ahold of it. We really believe in licensing as being a key driver for your expanded awareness of an artist’s career.”
AI enters the field via Musicube
Interesting enough Songtradr uses the AI company Musicube which they also bought. Musicube scans the audio files and creates metadata points that describe it in simple terms like mood and BPM, and, and here’s the big USP, it can predict the audience that would most align with sections of the song right down to small fractions, like five seconds.
Considering the acquisition of Bandcamp by Songtradr, it’s realistic to anticipate that many artists on the platform may experience new opportunities for licensing income. Songtradr, with its focus on connecting artists with brands and content creators for licensing purposes, opens up a new realm of potential for Bandcamp artists. While not every artist might pursue or succeed in licensing their music, the integration with Songtradr’s extensive licensing network significantly increases the likelihood for many artists to find new revenue streams.
Moreover, Songtradr’s acquisition could lead to a broader exposure for artists, as their music might find its way into various forms of media like advertising, films, and digital content. This expanded visibility not only potentially increases licensing income but also helps in building an artist’s brand and audience base.
Lot’s of mights, but Rome wasn’t built in one day either.
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