Video game developer Epic Games is buying Bandcamp, an online music store and community that focuses on supporting independent musicians and connecting them with fans who directly support their work. Epic Games is best known for Fortnite and Unreal Engine. Though details of the deal were not disclosed, Epic Games said the two companies share a mission of building artist-friendly platforms that allow creators to keep most of the revenue generated by their work. They also believe in a fair and open internet for all.
Epic Games said that Bandcamp will play a key role in helping the company develop their vision for a “marketplace ecosystem for content, technology, games, art, music and more.” Bandcamp will retain its independence as a standalone marketplace and music community. It will continue to be led by Bandcamp co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond, and Bandcamp products and services will still be available.
“Bandcamp’s mission is to help spread the healing power of music by building a community where artists thrive through the direct support of their fans,” said Diamond in a March 2, 2022 announcement.
“In Epic, we’ve found a partner who believes as deeply as we do that the future of music, and art itself, depends on the creation of equitable and inclusive communities like the one our fans and artists have helped to build. We’re excited to work alongside the Epic team to accelerate the realization of our mission and pursue our shared goal of empowering more creators in a fair and open way,” Diamond added.
Steve Allison, vice president and general manager of the Epic Games store, also commented on the acquisition.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome the Bandcamp team to Epic Games,” said Allison. “Bandcamp has built an incredible community and business where up and coming artists can succeed thanks to the direct support of their fans, with one of the best revenue models and terms in music. This aligns closely with Epic’s approach to supporting creators across all media and enabling them to connect directly with their fans.”
Based in Oakland, California, Bandcamp was founded in 2008 to create a community of independent musicians and fans. To date, Bandcamp has paid artists and labels nearly $1 billion. Bandcamp said their model is an artists-first model and Bandcamp’s musical artists net an average of 82% of every sale, giving the musicians and labels control over their music.
Bandcamp is transparent about its arrangement with artists, evidenced by the Bandcamp Fair Trade Music Policy posted on their website. The company said it has been profitable since 2012. They take 15% of revenue on digital sales and 10% on physical goods. They pass along payment processor fees, but typically 80% to 85% goes directly to the artists, and they make payouts daily.
“Since we only make money when artists make a lot more money, our interests remain aligned with those of the community we serve. It’s a straightforward approach, and one we’re happy to say works well,” Bandcamp says on their website.
Diamond said much of their operations will stay the same. For example, they’ll continue Bandcamp Fridays and the Daily will still highlight the wide range of diverse music available on the site. What will be new is that the deal with Epic Games will allow them to expand internationally, add features like mobile apps and merch tools, and support some of their newer initiatives including vinyl pressing and live streaming.
“…while over the years we’ve heard from other companies who wanted us to join them, we’ve always felt that doing so would only be exciting if they strongly believed in our mission, were aligned with our values, and not only wanted to see Bandcamp continue, but also wanted to provide the resources to bring a lot more benefit to the artists, labels, and fans who use the site. Epic ticks all those boxes. We share a vision of building the most open, artist-friendly ecosystem in the world, and together we’ll be able to create even more opportunities for artists to be compensated fairly for their work,” Diamond said.
This is an exciting time to be an independent artist and creator with so many platforms to choose from with each platform offering a unique set of features, benefits and payout formulas. The partnership between Epic Games and Bandcamp seems like a natural fit that not only aligns the companies’ values but also their vision for the future. It sounds like a winning combination with limitless potential that will benefit the companies, creators, and the music lovers who support them.