Sunday Sesh: Stoking The Bandcamp Fire
Crack a beer and grab a seat on the log, today we’re going to give our favourite music source a shake-up.
Joe and W inform me that the USA has a Labor Day holiday long weekend at the moment, so I’m sure those of you that aren’t perpetually stuffed in various lockers around the nation are out roaming the wilderness, enjoying the tranquillity that nature offers by blasting metal at volumes that cause entire flocks of migratory birds to dive-bomb into the Earth like feathered kamikaze pilots. Either that, or you’re sitting around a campfire so heavily intoxicated that you can’t even read the text on that cool meme Aaron just spent 3 hours trying to send you from the other side of the fire. Why does everyone always want go to these camp grounds anyway? There’s like, no phone reception, ever. So what if you can see the stupid Aurora borealis or whatever it’s called, more clearly from here, you looked around all day and didn’t see a fucking thing. Laaammmmeee.
Labour Day in Australia is kinda weird, in my state (NSW) it’s in October, but apparently the other states do theirs on different days in March; except for Queensland, who do theirs in May, but this discrepancy doesn’t surprise me, as the majority of QLD operates in a manner that could only be replicated if Texas and Florida decided to secede, then subsequently merge, and relocate even closer to the equator, further exacerbating their heat delirium. We did, however, have Father’s Day yesterday. As a new Dad, this was my first father’s day, and I’m pleased to inform you all that I’m now the proud owner of the coveted “Spot Loves His Dad” book. Suck shit, dorks. Adding to the haul were a couple of movies, some beer, and I bought myself some music on bandcamp; but that could be any weekend really; the prized Spot book is what matters, and no, you cannot “hold it” or “just have a look for a second”, it will remain under my pillow forever.
One of the music thingamajigs I bought on bandcamp was the new Shrine Of Insanabilis‘ EP, which was released on Friday. Disciples of the Void, their debut album from last year went a little under most people’s radar, even though it was a high quality offering of modern black metal from the German quartet. The band bring that solid riff-centric style for which the German and Polish scenes are renowned, combined with little flourishes of Icelandic and French flair. Seems they’ve also made the debut available for Name Your Price now too, so if you haven’t already, go swing them a few dollars and get yourself a killer album. Now, as you may have guessed, on this Sunday Sesh we’re going to be talking bandcamp; more specifically, ways you think it could be improved. Sure, in the digital age bandcamp is pretty much universally accepted to be the preferred method of supporting your favourite artists, but as a frequent user, I have noticed a couple of things that I think could be improved, and I bet you have too.
One of the main complaints I’ve heard from a few friends on the TovH is that the streaming isn’t quite as user-friendly as services such as Spotify. Now, I don’t really use streaming services much while on the go, as I generally listen to music I’ve already purchased, so this doesn’t bother me. If I’m going to check out a new album, I can readily stream it quite easily from my computer with bandcamp anyway. Regardless of this, the point still stands that bandcamp is the better way of supporting the artists you enjoy; Spotify gives such a negligible amount of remuneration (allegedly between $0.006 – and $0.0084 per stream) compared with bandcamp’s reported $4.3 million per month (the equivalent of an album being bought every 4 seconds), that I don’t think anyone can feasibly claim otherwise.
However, there are a couple of minor gripes I’d like to see addressed to make it even betterer-er. One is the availability of lyrics. Delivery to Australia can cost a shitload of dollarydoos; oftentimes it is 2-3 times the cost of the actual CD. My musical appetite is insatiable, so it simply seems unjustifiable to dust the equivalent of 3 album’s worth of coin on 1 CD that I’ll probably spend more time listening to an MP3 rip of anyway, so I tend to buy digital releases. This means I don’t get my hands on one of my favourite parts of owning an album, the cover art. That’s ok, the download always comes with a high-resolution cover image. One I can’t soil with sebaceous oil and a 50/50 mixture of beer and drool. But, it wasn’t until I bought Aesop Rock’s latest album that I realised pretty much no other albums I had downloaded came with a PDF file containing the album’s lyrics. I know some bands don’t offer lyrics in their physical copies anyway, but most do, and there’s pretty much no reason why more bands can’t include a document file of the album’s lyrics. Did he just say “Grrrraaaahhhhhhgggghhhhh” or “Grrrraaaahhhhhhggggghhhhhh”? I’ll never bloody know without the transcript.
Another is the pre-ordering system. This particular one has bitten me in the arse more than once, to the point where I vowed not to pre-order albums anymore. The combination of my insubordinate attitude, dearth of any semblance of will-power, and increasingly shoddy memory has meant that I’ve continued to obliterate the damn “Pre-Order” button like it drank my last beer/asked me if I “had a moment to talk about our lord and saviour“/chose Oddjob in a particularly crucial Goldeneye64 mutiplayer bout. Say you pre-ordered the physical album on day one through the band’s label, then a few weeks later the label puts up the album on bandcamp, but you don’t have access to it because you bought it through their web-store assuming it would be the only available method of purchase. Same label, different rules. This one doesn’t happen too often, and it’s more an issue of my impatience.
Conversely, sometimes you can pre-order a digital album on bandcamp. “But Lizard” you chortle, “Why would you ever pre-order a digital album? It’s not like they’re going to run out of copies!”. Well, sometimes the band will release the first couple of tracks a few months prior to the album coming out, and if you pre-order you can download them immediately, stick them in your ear-holes, and ignore everyone around you with greater success. Suppose you do this, patiently wait your time, only to see people all over the world posting pictures of the album in their hands a week before release date. Turns out the label or band shifted the release date forward, sometimes to combat pirates leaking the album, other times just to keep us on our collective toes. Sweet, it dropped early! Who cares why? You’ve waited 3 months for this, log on to bandcamp to download consume the fermented aural wort. Wait, it hasn’t been put online and won’t be until the scheduled release date?! But you saw half the damn internet holding physical copies in their hands, surely they took at least a few days to ship all over the world? Do their servers run on dial-up connections? You could easily just go download an illegal copy of it right now. They know this, that’s half the reason they released it early. Four days later your friend who didn’t even know the album was coming out grabs a copy at the local store, and calls you up asking what you think of that fucking amazing riff near the end of track 6. You know, the one that goes “dugggada dugggada bwaahhh dittitada bwahhh dittitada reehhh”? The one you’ll never hear because you’re now in hospital for eating the entire lower half of your arm in one bite.
So there are two things that I think could be improved about bandcamp. When have you also felt like an entitled dickbag? Do you have any ideas for improving the sale of music? How could bandcamp improve their services? Maybe you just want to share something killer you’ve picked up recently? Ebola perhaps? Let’s hear your ideas in the comments section.