Bandcamp is good because there is virtually no community interference. Your music is just on the shelf. That does mean that you need to work a bit to generate any traffic.
There are several genre spaces that use Bandcamp as a hub; Metal & Berlin School being two I know. Aligning yourself (even if only in part) to one of these scenes is a help. Conversely some things don’t do so well on Bandcamp in which case go where the paying audience is.
One For The Mockingbird
Here is an example from a musician I know (and am working on a collab with as I tryper this). These are the Bandcamp Play Stats he posted in a Facebook Group:
This is disappointing when it is your passion and you hear that (apparently) other people are getting trillions of plays. But you are not 🙁
The Very Thing
There are a few things to know about Bandcamp. #1 should be self-evident but is not always in general chatter: Bandcamp is not Spotifry and therefore people don’t behave the same (thank God). Bandcamp caters more to the Greater music fan rather than the Lesser music fan so you have to adjust expectations, as well as what you do there, compared to other places (where really you should still do all these things).
The Bandcamp people you are chasing are The Buyers – those who buy the music they want to take into their lives. These are not the same people who just blindly stream any noise passing (chase those people elsewhere if you think they will ever benefit you in anyway – I say they will not). The mindsets & expectations (hot-buttons) of Buyers are different.
There are some soft rules to know:
The Secret Life Of Arabia
You have to appeal to Buyers with a complete Work Of Art. Bandcamp people are not like Spotifry people so you have to offer Albums (or at least EPs) not random singles. Put singles on YouTube or similar as a draw for the album on Bandcamp.
Put real Cover Art on the works. Random photos may look nice enough but they are not the equal of a cover – look at “Fear Of The Dark” and feel how powerful that Cover is – we think of it as a picture but it is also a conveyance of the band and album concept. Bandcamp people like to see completed Works; a cover is part of that. This means use Text for Artist & Album names and make the cover Square (at least 11417 x 1417 pixels or 12 x 12cm).
Act Name is important. I would probably not look at The Breathalyzer but I would be open to a record from Shawn Johnson as it feels more intimate. Name the act in ways that match the genre space. Vomit Brigade matches Punk but not New Age.
Put a Price on things. Even $1 looks better than $0. A price says that your work is worth something. If no one is interested, they are just as disinterested at 0 as they are a 100. Show that this Work (album/EP) has value from the start. Bandcamp people do buy things so work on that paradigm by announcing that this is why you are here.
Tell a Compelling Story about the art. Try to avoid making it seem like a dumping ground for scraps & experiments (that is why God created Soundcloud). This is like #2 above but uses the power of words to get into people’s soul, to get them engaged in your expression. Don’t talk about gear so much as the message of the artwork and yourself as an artist.
Use Tags and Keywords wisely. Have at least a few that cover you generally then add any extras need for the album. Sean’s cores tags could be EWI, New Age, Improvisation, Inspirational. Never use tags that aren’t you like EDM or Synthwave as that looks bad and says you are scared/desperate. Real art is confidence (even if you don’t feel it).
Collaborate with other Bandcamp acts. Reach out and ask em. Having your name on a record with someone that a fan likes, will probably have them come look at what you do. Some will ignore you or be tools but if you prove that you add value to a record, others will notice.
Time is a factor. You have to be patient and Play The Long Game. When the Eagles wrote songs, they were doing it now but at the same time they were making songs for eternity. Focusing only on today is a trap for the artist as they then start cutting corners and trying to be Trailer Swift or whoever is in that spot today. Who will be remembered in 100 years? Bandcamp buyers want to buy an eternal story. Look at material that moves you and it feels “forever”.
Use YouTube. YouTube and Bandcamp have a pretty decent synergy. Bandcamp is sound, YouTube is vision. YouTube also happens to be the top search engine for music. Be there. Not like a desperate crack whore but showing the right people who you are and the message they are hoping to hear. Link that back to your Bandcamp (and website). Your hope on the toob is to get served up against similar material. I know that is hard but if the bot sees Tangerine Dream fans also watching my videos, I get served up against anything related to TD.
Keep Releasing. There is nothing like having a whole page full of releases on the front of your Bandcamp. An act with a body of work over a long time is far more attractive than one with a few scraps. The only exception being if you are Joy Division – but to do that you have to be spectacularly dead which includes a degree of fame already. Doh! So best to work and release regularly as you build your artist opus.
Oh and don’t forget to remind people that payment for the pleasure that you have given them is appreciated. There is no shame in politely asking for the sale.
Bandcamp is not Spotifry
Therefore people don’t behave the same