Bandcamp has been sold to Songtradr. What does this mean for the musicians?

Epic Games, the maker of hits such as Fortnite, just laid off 16% of staff, or 830 people — and it’s sold Bandcamp to Songtradr, a music licensing company.

Epic is privately-held, so it doesn’t have Wall Street analysts to answer to — but it went on a spending spree through 2021 and 2022, and the numbers evidently weren’t adding up. Bandcamp is still profitable, but that makes it just a particuarly saleable non-core business. Also dumped was SuperAwesome, a “youth marketing solutions” company, in an upper management buyout.

Bandcamp unionised in March 2023. Game development companies are allergic to unions, so that probably made Bandcamp a fair bit less attractive. Epic even tried to get record labels to pressure the Bandcamp United union to stop their efforts.

Epic lost most of an expensive lawsuit against Apple in 2021, and both sides are appealing to the US Supreme Court at further expense.

Epic only bought Bandcamp eighteen months ago. Nobody could work out quite what Epic could do with Bandcamp. That seems to include Epic. It didn’t have synergy with game development or distribution.

Bandcamp is good, it’s profitable and sustainable and it basically works. Musicians love Bandcamp and depend on it. They worried at the Epic sale and now they wonder what the Songtradr sale means.

Plus point: at least Songtradr is in the same business. Minus point: at least Epic wasn’t in the same business, and didn’t mess with Bandcamp, despite many musicians’ fears when they bought it.

Songtradr is talking up using its licensing prowess to give opportunities to Bandcamp artists — including licensing on Epic games.

Songtradr can’t just grab your Bandcamp uploads. Sync licensing (TV or movies) is very lucrative and hence legally complex. You need to licence both the composition and the desired recording of it. The licenses can be disconcertingly short.

Games are one of the places composers can get work these days. Game music and classical are the same genre, right? If Songtradr can hook up composers with Epic or other companies, there are plenty of composers who will be extremely interested.

Thinking of the loved one, with her six albums of light classical. Buy a CD, we got a box of ’em here! Goes great with your game!

4 thoughts on “Bandcamp has been sold to Songtradr. What does this mean for the musicians?

  1. Interesting. It sounds like SongTradr is positioning itself as a vertically integrated competitor to the other streaming businesses, one which could be able to replace labels, publishers, collecting societies, content recognition and subscription services. Will it team up with Soundreef too?

    The big question is whether they’re plan is to fight the copyright cartels or to join them. Not being under Epic sounds like an improvement, but not if the result is being purchased by Universal/whatever down the line.

  2. Tom Ellard of Severed Heads, who sells his records on Bandcamp, is quite interested by the deal:

    > Ok doing the diligence on Songtradr. They do music licensing e.g. TikTok, YouTube also traditional TVC. You pay them a fee every month to offer your tracks for synch.

    > They want BandCamp because a proportion of BC artists might pay this fee. If you have ambition to sell soundtracks this doesn’t hurt*

    > Epic Marketplace will become just one of the venues. They prob won’t fuss BC because they need lots of music.

    > *most of my income is from synch. If you want $ it’s important. #bandcamp

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