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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Bandcamp: A listener's guide

Following up on Tuesday's blog post, I want to provide a "listener's guide" to Bandcamp, a website where independent musicians and small record companies offer their recordings for sale, and where I have purchased a number of items, including from musicians whose names will be familiar to this blog. While the website is known to be useful to musicians, I hope to make the point that it is also a good website for listeners who love music. 

Bandcamp is a U.S. company that was founded in 2007. Here is how Wikipedia explains how it works:

"Artists and labels upload music to Bandcamp and control how they sell it, setting their own prices, offering users the option to pay more, and selling merchandise.

"Users can download their purchases or stream their music on the Bandcamp application or website only once or, by preserving the purchase voucher, unlimited times. They can also send purchased music as a gift, view lyrics, and save individual songs or albums to a wish list. Uploading music to Bandcamp is free. The company takes a 15% commission on sales made from their website, which drops to 10% after an artist's sales surpass US$5,000, plus payment processing fees."

The selling point for artists is that they get to keep a lot of the money once they make a sale. I used to purchase music from independent artists I support from Amazon's digital music platform, but I have switched to using Bandcamp when possible. From now on, when I can purchase music from Bandcamp, that will be my first choice, as I want to support the artists I like. 

Once you pay for an album or a song — I would describe the pricing as generally reasonable, while admitting that prices vary — you can stream it as often as you like in the useful Bandcamp smartphone app, or at the website, and you can download music files in a variety of formats, not just MP3 files but in other formats, including FLAC files that have high audio quality. In addition, you can create playlists, and download those playlists for playback when you aren't connected to the Internet or cellular data. Prop Anon has not yet made his Squat the Condos album available as an album on Bandcamp, but I was able to purchase the individual tracks, put together a playlist that recreates the original CD, and blast it out in my car as I ran errands Sunday. All of the music you have purchased is visible in one place on the app. 

Here are examples of artists and recordings available on Bandcamp: Prop Anon, but see also the Hail Eris hard rock band, also his project; All Around the World, the Oz Fritz the "audio document of sacred spaces with their acoustic and consciousness altering properties"; Steve "Fly" Pratt (but scroll down the page for "Steve Fly recommends," which is his stuff, too, and see also Robert Anton Wilson meets Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt); and Rasa's Starseed band.  Rasa makes all of his stuff easy to access in one place, which is kind of how I wish other folks would do. All of this music, and much else, can be streamed at least once before you buy it, a nice "try before you buy" feature. You can also access the Noah23 catalog

Unrelated to this blog, among other folks I like Peter Gabriel is here.  So are the Smithereens, but represented only by comparatively rare releases. 

I mostly listen to classical music; one of my favorite piano players is R. Andrew Lee, who specializes in modern minimalist and post minimalist composers. I especially like his recording of William Duckworth's The Time Curve Preludes Please try it if you like classical piano. I've bought much of his music on Bandcamp, much of it available at the Bandcamp site for his main record label. 

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