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Uncreative Artists: Why All Bands Depend on Facebook & Bandcamp?

Updated: 15 September, 2023 Created: 9 August, 2023 By:Andrzej Category: Blog
Recently I got asked why do I bother with label’s own website. Why do you not use Facebook + Bandcamp, like everybody else?

Thank you Adrian (a very nice guy I met thanks to Halotan Records) for this question. You made me see this elephant in the room: that Facebook & Bandcamp combo is the normal way to manage a band today.

Whoever does it different way is a weirdo.

Today you advertise your music on Facebook and sell it on Bandcamp. It works, so why should I reinvent the wheel?

Yes – it works. But is it effective, is it really the best you can do? Is it the only way?

The problem with corporations – like the ones owning Facebook and Bandcamp – is that they are in it for money.

And they have never enough of it, even if they already own half of the World.

So they make their product as bad, small and crappy as humanly possible without loosing too many of their customers.

They give you a crappy deal not because they have to, but because this is the way they have always been. Because people who own them always demand more.

One of the ways to make more is give others less. And fill the resulting void with words.

Check out what they call large fries at McDonalds, you’ll get the idea.

Slowly and meticulously, over many years of iterations corporations zero in on making your deal as bad as possible. But just good enough so you don’t leave.

They will spend time and resources on knowing what your acceptable bare minimum is.

The problem with popular platforms is that the more popular they are, the worse deal you get. It is a rule.

Facebook and Bandcamp are by far the most popular platforms when it comes to bands.

So, like everyone else you release your music and let your fans know on Facebook. Some fans buy your music on Bandcamp.

It is simple and you are happy enough.

There is a problem though, the same that I mentioned earlier. The nice people in suits do and will come up with things that will improve their excel spreadsheets and buy them grace of their billionaire masters, boards and stockholders.

This is what they do for living. And you – you will sheepishly accept whatever they come up with. Why? Because you have no alternative, you have nowhere to go.

You can’t bargain, you can’t negotiate with a multi billion ogranisation. You just take whatever leftovers they throw at you.

The more you rely on them, the more they own you and the worse deal they can force upon you.

If you have your band’s page on Facebook, you know how many people you can reach with your posts.

You may have thousands of fans, but your posts reach only a handful and these numbers go in one direction only: down.

This is downsizing social media style, Facebook version of “large fries” at McDonalds.

I remember the uproar when some social media folks measured that Facebook posts reach on average only 16% of fans – or 160 out of every thousand.

That was like 8 years ago. Now check your numbers, do a quick search for “facebook fan reach percentage 2023”. Depending on source this is around 4% or 40 out of every thousand fans.

Four times less than 8 years ago, when we thought it was bad.

Facebook effectively sells you access to your own fans. And why shouldn’t they, it is them who owns your fans after all.

Seriously, you got people to click the damn “like” button on your page and now you need to pay to reach them, even though they want to hear from you.

I made this image eight years ago. Is it not reasonable to expect Bancamp doing similar moves? I know, you’ll worry when it happens.

Instead, they hear from advertisers. You provide the content that makes people spend time on the platform, but they get as little of this content as possible, just to keep them there watching the ads.

So the fans are getting a poor deal to.

Bancamp works in a similar way. You need to send them traffic in order to make it sell. As everybody sends their fans in, some cross-sales are generated.

There is no miracle – you need to bring your own clients with you. It is like a restaurant where you bring in your own food and pay for eating it :)

Now guess what. You will get those cross sales even if you don’t send your fans to your Bandcamp page.

I believe that people who want to support you, will do so regardless of platform you use.

Are you too busy to email your album to everyone who sends you money through PayPal or – much better – sends you a bank transfer?

I buy on German ebay sometimes and I noticed that some folks there accept bank transfer only. Smart people don’t like to pay for getting paid I guess.

So are you really such a busy rock star that you have no time to do this? Check if the transfer/PayPal came in and email your music to the fan by Wetransfer or something? With a nice and personal thank you?

Come on buddy, get real.

Teach your fans to support you directly, have a direct and personal relation. It is thousand times better than faceless transaction facilitated by corporations for a substantial fee.

I laugh so hard at these folks who sing about evil corporations while handing nearly a quarter of their money over to them.

Well done, you are a such a rebel, ready to crush the system. No, I am joking. All you do is bending over to get the soap they have thrown on the bathroom’s floor.

Corporations charge you to talk to your fans, they charge you when you sell to your fans. Can’t you see how shitty deal you are getting?

By the way, is the world being driven by greed just a badass thing to sing about, or something to do something about?

Find a way to let your fans support you directly. Make your Bancamp profile and leave it be. If it makes you a few bob on its own – great.

Let your fans know that you have Bandcamp, but make it clear it is less preferred way to support your band.

Your fans are looking up to you to tell them how they can help – use this power.

I personally find it ridiculous that most of the bands do not have a place on the internet where listening to their music is not facilitated by corporations.

The only things you really own is your own website and your mailing list. Everything else is borrowed and outside of your control. It may an will get worse.

I know settling on Bandcamp + Facebook model is tempting because it requires zero effort.

It can be replicated by a 10 years old on his phone, in less than 15 minutes.

And if it is so easy to do, maybe there is not as much value in it as we think? Maybe doing things that are a bit harder but more creative is the way to go?

You are an artist, are you not supposed to innovate instead of going with the flow?

Today’s independent and underground bands are all going with the flow. Those who are supposed to be the inventors, behave like a herd of sheep with corporate eartags dangling from their ears. Corporations own them and their fans.

Treat this as an opportunity.

Do things differently, like the real artists and creative people do. Search for loopholes, for new ways to use the system to your advantage instead of letting it screw you over.

You have nothing to loose but the short end of the deal Facebook and Bandcamp are handing to you.

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