How Much Is Too Much?


#1

we hear a lot about the positive, democratizing effect Bandcamp is having on independent artist’s take-home revenues. this is indisputable. but, with so much inconsistency on how music is priced from artist to artist, i’m curious to know how much you all are willing to actually pay for it.

there are a number of labels i follow who consistently put out digital releases in the $4-7 realm and, in most cases, i am happy to shell out. but on the flipside, i see the evidence that way too many artists have a pretty high opinion of themselves and charge outrageous amounts just for an EP.

as we all see week to week, there are DOZENS of releases all competing for our attention. runtimes are getting shorter (i want to say all of Kanye’s 2018 releases + Jesus Is King were all under a half hour). in our age of over-production and over-consumption, is it really fair to charge $12 for a digital EP? below is a small sampling of how people are pricing their music on BC. what are your thoughts?

39 minutes; $0 ($0.00/min)

24 hours; $24 ($0.02/min)

25 minutes; $12 ($0.48/min)

22 minutes; $12 ($0.55/min)


#2

oh yeah, i’ve noticed this. some artists/labels are charging upwards of $20 for a (digital) compilation. idk, it seems a little high. to me it would make more sense to lower that price and gain more sales. setting your product to $0/free doesn’t quite wrangle in the people to pay extra either from what i’ve seen. sitting in the sweet spot of $4-12(aud) seems fair to me as we do live in the streaming age now… anything outside of that bracket could be an overestimation of its worth relative to whats going on.

i’m low on extra cash at the moment but soon i’ll start supporting more of what i love on bandcamp. a reasonable and attractive price coupled with how great and useable the site is, it’s a win for everyone.


#3

I am willing to pay what I pay now for my BUY ON SIGHT artists. Mostly UK electronic, so their prices are usually 1 GBP per track, 2 GBP per EP of 2 tracks, 3 GBP for an EP of 3 tracks, and usually 6 GBP for albums. The highest end I’ve been willing to pay was the 12.25 Euros for the Skee Mask album last year.

The only hip-hop I’ve considered buying on Bandcamp was Madlib’s Pinata Beats but found $15 too much for me when the CD brand new was $8. Knxwledge sells his tracks for $18.88 which for me is too much, Alchemist and Budgie also are too high for me, Stones Throw has their prices correct I think. It’s not that the higher priced music artists don’t deserve it, of course they do, but I can’t pay that much and I’m not willing to when I’ve got BUY ON SIGHT artists releasing 24-bit/96kHz music for 6 GBP an LP. I can’t justify it.

I LOVE BANDCAMP because its paid millions to artists, and because I love to own the music especially in 24-bit, and because I do not like streaming; both personally and as a concept. However, artists like Four Tet have had their tracks played millions of times on there, even Midland had almost 5 million plays just for Final Credits. Floating Points had individual Spotify art for each track on his new LP, and Four Tet, Caribou, Joy O, Midland, they’ve all got Spotify playlists. No doubt for as much as Spotify doesn’t give artists a fair share (my opinion) it definitely gives them shine and increases their popularity, support for shows, and DJ sets. I remember Four Tet had 100k or so Twitter followers a year or so ago, and now it’s 250k or something. That’s a huge jump and I attribute that to the attention he got for his KH alias releasing the Only Human track.

Not sure what will happen to Bandcamp in the long run, will these bigger artists I mentioned stay on there when the specter of Spotify and streaming looms so large as a powerhouse? Will smaller artists charge more like the ones you’ve listed? It scares me to think about because I’ve been buying music for decades and don’t want that to change. The new Floating Points LP was in 1,000 collections last I checked, so 1,000 times 8 pounds is like 8,000 pounds, which is $10,285. That’s not that much money considering Ninja Tune is a larger indie lablel and heavily promoted the project at almost every major music publication, even an article in the NYT. That’s the highest end, along with the Yussef Kamaal project a few years back, that had something like 5,000 purchases.

I’m not an expert in any of this, but these have been my thoughts for a while, thank you for the post @criminiminal for sparking the space to write. Bandcamp is my go to purchase place and I love it a lot, maybe these high prices are justified by the artists, thankfully this doesn’t affect my purchases, but Bandcamp will develop in different ways and hopefully they are adaptable enough to survive the streaming giants that only seem to be gaining steam.


#4

Being new to buying digital, I have been amazed on how cheap bandcamp is.
Sometimes I see releases trying to get around 5 £/$ for one track, and if its something I really like, thats reasonable to me, above that i’ll use it as an excuse to try to stop buying more tunes.
Generally the prices seems to follow the opposite of my taste, really good things are cheap and a bit boring things are more often more expensive.

What I find weird and silly is “VINYL ONLY” on bandcamp
that seems like more of a fashion statement.

What id like to se more of is things like who mastered the files, if its 24 bit or 16 bit . . .


#5

Great topic. Personally I think when basically 97% of your audience is going to be freeloading by streaming on spotify or youtube, it is JOKES to be expecting the absolute minority of people who want to give you money for your work, your actual fans, to pay $10/$15 bucks. I’ve basically never bought anything on bandcamp for more than 2 or 3 bucks a track or 5 or 6 bucks for a collection of tracks.


#6

I love your reviews on bandcamp! you are everywhere on there. glad you’re here and great post.


#7

My policy lately is to grab whatever I can that is free, sample all that I can through Spotify and Bandcamp, and support artists at shows by buying a ticket and merch or music in person as often as possible.

However when I do make a decision to buy new music, it’s often because that music is connected to a memory or space through that sampled listening experience I got through streaming it or seeing someone live. So when I shell out cash and it’s $30 for an LP, this happens because I wanna have a piece of vinyl that will forever remind me of that NYC subway ride in a lightning storm last October when I listened to Quantic’s Atlantic Oscillations a few days after seeing him at the Good Room and it hit just right.

In the past when I’ve been more into djing home listening on big speakers and collecting tunes for sets, anything more than $15 for an album was about my limit. If I were to buy some studio monitors, which I’ll probably do in late winter after traveling, I’m sure I’d prioritize high quality music over streaming and start shelling out $2-3 a tune on bandcamp. But even then, the tunes I buy might get lost in the stream and I feel like I’d regret paying that much for anything less than vinyl.

I would like to create a 25 track high quality Bandcamp bought playlist every 2-3 months or so that would be mostly bass heavy 120+ bpm stuff but honestly its time consuming and these days I spend money elsewhere for other experiences so it’s low on the priority list. But if I were nerding out again and digging that’s what I’d be into.

For me, it’s about the relationship I have with the music, the space I’ll enjoy it, and the permanence or physicality of the media I choose to cop. Ive had files full of digital tunes I paid hundreds for that became forgotten, lost in the archives of my hard drive, and then found that once I do find them only one or two are actually meaningful and I kinda felt like I wasted my money.

But if I were playing parties and creating memories for other people in spaces, I’d probably shell out $40 a week to do so. These days I far more often buy old music than new music, because it’s more enjoyable to me to learn about older scenes through context.

I don’t have any problem with artists charging extravagant prices for their work, it’s about finding your market share and audience and lane, working in it, and succeeding. Sometimes that’s streaming, sometimes Bandcamp, sometimes 7inches and sometimes limited edition 180gram holofoil pop up usb charger dongle merch.


#8

Also for me personally I don’t calculate price per minute of music, it’s about my subjective experience and relationship with that tune, even if it’s 15 seconds long and costs $20 if I LOVE that shit and it changed my life or was the soundtrack to something super deep I’ll buy it.


#9

Wow thank you @cossrooper Totally unexpected and appreciated! I get so hyped when a new release comes out on Bandcamp, I’ll listen to it and think about what to write for the review. I don’t know if many people read them, but I love how Bandcamp sends a message when a user purchases something after viewing your collection, feels good to know the artist is getting more shine and I was able to spread the joy too.


#10

lol @nickecks i don’t normally go around scrutinizing the cost per minute of every release i buy. it was just to illustrate contrast.

to your point, it’s fairly hard to calculate joy. there are certain albums i’d buy hundreds of times over. on the other hand, it’s really pretty easy to calculate novelty. when you’ve got people actually raising their hand to support you when they could easily stream for free, i don’t see how someone could sit there with a straight face and say my single or EP (in a sea of singles and EPs) is worth 5x more than the person sitting next to me.