Tips for enjoying Bandcamp to the fullest
By Luis Interior (Revista Don)
There are many dozens of opportunities provided by the digital era for independent artists to showcase their music and make it profitable. Among them, Bandcamp is one of the longest to have been around and remains one of the most important today.
Bandcamp, together with Spotify, stands out as one of the most powerful digital tools that a band or artist can use to promote their music. Why? Registration is free, it provides you with the opportunity of selling your songs by setting your own prices, and it has a large following of listeners waiting to discover new artists. If you are an artist in a minority musical genre, then Bandcamp can be your best ally. Whether you already have a profile on the platform or are just getting started, our useful tips will help you get the most out of it.
1) Put out your music for free
Bandcamp lets you set the price of the music you make available through the platform and that includes free options. Unless you’re Taylor Swift and have a fan base that buys everything you do without batting an eyelid (and, let’s face it, if you were Taylor Swift you wouldn’t be using Bandcamp), it costs a lot to promote and sell your music if it can’t be heard and easily shared for free. This doesn’t mean you can’t make your music turn a profit, there are different ways of doing this without affecting its promotion. For example, you can choose to make your songs free for streaming but make listeners pay if they wish to download them. Or, you can offer your older tracks and albums at no charge but put a price on any new material you release.
2) Group your songs into albums
Or, make it easy for your listener. Look at Netflix and its strategy of grouping together episode after episode (do you really want to spend ten hours watching this new series?). The more time a potential fan spends on your page, the more likely they are to find something of yours they like. If the listener still isn’t convinced and finds he has to click again every time a song ends, they may decide to look elsewhere. Remember this useful maxim for any type of internet promotion: one click more can mean one follower less.
3) Start with the best song
OK, with this point the most purist writers are going to be thrown to the lions but let’s be practical: the first thing a newcomer will probably listen to on your page is the first song that appears. Maybe for your conceptual album, starting with an environmental track composed of rain sounds and singing sparrows is the most appropriate. If your potential listener, however, has clicked on your page because you describe yourself as a power-pop artist that’s not what they want to hear. Start with your best song, one that sums you up musically.
4) Have a consistent image
Before you even create a profile or upload new material, make sure you have an image that is tightly associated with you and your work. With so many options to choose from, potential listeners quickly discard artists with images that don’t meet their expectations. If your image isn’t carefully considered, you will quickly find that your music isn’t being taken seriously either. Your image needs to say who you are at a single glance: as much as you may love the photos you took of sunsets on the beach, do not be tempted to use them as your album art if what you do is grindcore. Be consistent with your musical genre. Keep in mind that consistency means the same images and style should be maintained across all of your networks. Make sure that whoever comes to Bandcamp through your Facebook page, for example, is clear from the look of the page that he has arrived at the correct place.
5) Find the most accurate labels to describe your music
Again, be consistent with your tags. Don’t just use them to get more chance of appearing in searches. It is better to really think about ones that define you correctly as they are more likely to match you up with possible fans. The more specific, the better. Tag the main instruments you use, your stylistic influences and other artists playing similar music. If you run out of ideas, look at these similar artists and pinch theirs.
6) Choose your city from the Bandcamp Discovery options
Not all cities in the world feature in Bandcamp’s ‘Discovery’ option. Don’t be too particular in your city selection but use the largest city that is near to you. This will give you more exposure. Do not choose Madrid or Barcelona by default thinking that by doing so you will reach more people because, in fact, it can be more useful to you if you stand out in a medium-sized city. Being the artist of a specific genre that sells the most in a defined region gives you a good headline with which to promote your band. Also, the local press will pay more attention to you and you will get more performing opportunities in that area. In this case, it’s better to be the ‘head of a mouse’ rather than the ‘tail of a lion’.
7) Create visible links to your social networks and merchandise
Remember that Bandcamp is not only a platform for listening to music but also a space for promotion and sales. A link to your social networks or your label should be enough to convert a satisfied listener into attending your gigs or buying your T-shirts, badges, etc.
8) Include your song lyrics
Why? Because people like this and it helps if they don’t’ understand your language whether you’re singing in English or Spanish. Seeing the lyrics helps connect with the song and enhances the listener’s experience. Don’t miss out on this opportunity because of laziness.
In short, for most artists and independent bands, a presence on Bandcamp is vital when it comes to making themselves known. Taking advantage of everything this platform offers as well as using other major players such as Spotify, iTunes or Deezer really gets your music out there, reaching as many ears as possible.
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