X&HT MUSIC WEEK: The Bandcamp Option

Sorry, couldn't resist.
Sorry, couldn't resist.

Yesterday I touched on how Radiohead had developed their own distribution and marketing after parting ways with their record company. You no longer need to be a big famous rock band to do that. These days, it’s as easy as signing up for Bandcamp.

Bandcamp is a bit of a paradigm shifter. It’s a quick and easy way for musicians to get their work out to an audience, with a good-looking home page featuring your own custom artwork and full previews. For a user like me, browsability and preview options are key, and Bandcamp has all this covered. Most interestingly, the pricing is set so that the minimum the artist is prepared to charge is always the default, but you can pay more if you think the music’s worth it. File options run the gamut from MP3 to massive lossless formats. It’s a great way of discovering new music at a pleasingly affordable price point, and compensating the artists appropriately.

My latest Bandcamp download is from Stepdad, who specialise in sunny, quirky synth-pop. They have the bounce and charm of early Depeche Mode before they discovered rubber leisureware. There’s nothing particularly original or innovative at play, but it’ll make you smile and jig about, and most days that’s all that you need. You can pick up the Ordinaire EP for under a quid. That has to be worth a punt, surely.

It’s not just the little guys that use Bandcamp. Longtime X&HT Crush Amanda Palmer has released her latest album on the platform after leaving her old label Roadrunner in 2008 – a process that she extensively documented on her blog and on stage, pleading to be released from her contract after it became clear that they were simply not interested in promoting her. Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, a mix of live and studio recordings based around her regular trips to Oz and New Zealand, shows off her punk cabaret stylings beautifully. It contains odes on a mix of subjects, including one on the horror of Vegemite, and the joy and wonder of intimate female hairstyling in the hilarious Map Of Tasmania.

You can pick up the album for 69c, but there are a ton of other options, including vinyl, artwork packages and, for $5000, An Evening With Amanda Palmer where she will come to your gaff and perform. I’m not sure if anyone’s taken her up on the option yet, but I’m sure we’ll hear all about it when it happens.

Readership, I urge you to visit Bandcamp and have a sniff around. There’s a huge range of music to explore. The preview options make it a no-risk endeavour. Who knows, your new favourite band could be waiting there for you.