|Enjoying her favorite new band|
Not sure about how to get your music heard? Well this is where technology can be your best friend. Labels are just one route to make your music accessible, but with the amount of competition, doing more to engage fans is the optimal recipe for success.
Creating email blasts, using services such as youtube and soundcloud to stream your music, along with promoting yourself on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are effective strategies, but you have to be on top of all content sources. In the article below, Mashable posted a great article on the differences between Spotify and Bandcamp. Dig in and find out where you as an artist could potentially have your music heard by a wider audience.
Check out the original post on Mashable
"We compared Spotify with Bandcamp, a service known for supporting emerging artists, to see why some artists and labels choose one over the other.
Two different entities, the fundamental difference seems to be that the former caters to consumers, while the latter revolves around producers.
Nevertheless, each service still has its virtues and downfalls, most of which depend on what kind of artist and label you are.
Spotify: ExposureOne benefit of Spotify is the exposure to a large audience. With over 24 million active users in 32 countries, Spotify is an easy way for artists to cast a wide net and make their music available, especially to listeners who may not otherwise actively seek out their music.
"Spotify is just so huge and everybody seems to use it,” says Andy De Santis, promotions manager of Polyvinyl Records. One of the handful of labels that has a Bandcamp page, Polyvinyl also goes through a distributor that posts its releases on Spotify. "It’s good to have your stuff up there just as recognition for bands.”
With both new and established artists on the Polyvinyl roster, De Santis says the label tries to put everything up on Bandcamp, while a distributor handles bigger services such as Spotify and iTunes.
Bruce Willen, one-half of emerging band Peals, agrees that Spotify gives the band access to a wider audience. "Any way you can get your music out there for people to easily access it, I think it’s a good thing,” says Willen.
A music veteran himself, Willen was part of Baltimore-based Double Dagger for nearly a decade before forming Peals, which released a debut album earlier this year. Though the band doesn’t have a Bandcamp page, the album is available to stream on Spotify.
For many emerging artists, Spotify is just another way to adapt to the ever-changing industry landscape.
"Spotify is good for me because it’s exposure, if anything.” R. Stevie Moore, dubbed a lo-fi legend, has been releasing albums on cassettes, CD-Rs and now digital formats since 1968. Moore has experienced the shifting music industry since before digital even took form. While he operates primarily from his Bandcamp page, which includes hundreds of releases, Moore has released a select few albums on Spotify. "Forget the musical industry, it’s a digital industry now. That’s the new music industry.”
Image: Flickr, Anna Vernon
Bandcamp: ProfitBandcamp’s payout model is one of its most lauded features. Known for paying artists a hefty profit and cutting out the middleman, Bandcamp collects 15% of digital sales and only 10% on other merchandise. Compared to Spotify’s comparatively petty payout of less than a penny per stream, Bandcamp is a much more profitable option for artists who want to sell directly to fans.
"It doesn’t really make an incentive for musicians to distribute their work [via Spotify]. It’s not sustainable for people trying to make a living from making music,” Willen says. "I think it’s just contributing to the devaluation of art.”
While Willen believes Spotify provides exposure for emerging bands, it is detrimental for up-and-coming bands that have a solid audience but are far from Top 40 status. "Their stuff is getting out there, people already know about it, but it’s not really adding as much for them,” Willen says. To him, Spotify is more valuable for unknown bands or chart-topping artists who might get millions of plays.
Additionally, because Spotify only distributes via labels or distributors, independent artists have to find another middleman to get their music to the streaming service.
Jason Shanley, an independent artist who records as Cinchel, says he went through TuneCore, a third-party distributor, to get his music on Spotify. TuneCore, however, requires a yearly subscription, the cheapest of which starts at $9.99 per year, not including other fees for setup. Other than the lag time, he says the payout was too low. "I’m losing too much money with an account there. I think I made $2 from it this year or something.”
Instead, Shanley opts to put most of his discography on Bandcamp. Even though he prices most of his albums at $1 or free, Shanley points to Bandcamp’s name-your-price model as an opportunity for profit from enthusiastic fans. "Maybe about 25% of buyers paid more than the minimum,” he estimates.
"I think there’s a psychology where if you don’t charge anything for it, people don’t think it’s worth anything," he says "But there’s a point where if you charge too much for it, then they don’t feel like it’s justifying that much of a cost.”
Josh Brechner, also an independent artist, notes that Bandcamp helps artists in giving their albums an optimal price. He says Bandcamp recommends charging around $4 for a five-track album. "But they’ll pay more if they like it,” says Brechner, who records under the moniker Visager. "In a way, that’s sort of like, ‘We believe in you.’”
Spotify: Convenience and DistributorsFor bigger labels, Spotify may be a better choice to handle a large amount of input. Sub Pop, which has signed hundreds of artists since the ‘80s grunge heyday, works directly with Spotify but does not have a Bandcamp page.
"If we were to add our entire catalogue to Bandcamp, it’s a lot of content, it’s a lot of metadata,” says Richard Laing, Sub Pop’s director of sales. "To be able to manage that stuff, [Bandcamp] is not quite where it needs to be to work efficiently.”
The label would also have to figure out a new way to pay revenues to the artists involved if they were to start using Bandcamp, Laing adds. "We need payment stream information in a certain way for us to be able to use it.”
For Sub Pop, this is the reason the label chooses Spotify over Bandcamp. "At the moment, [Bandcamp] is best-served for very small labels and self-released artists,” says Laing. "But for a label like us with hundreds if not thousands of releases, it’s not quite in-line with the kind of bureaucracy of a business as it grows like that.”
Bandcamp: No BarriersAnother major plus of Bandcamp is the lack of barrier to entry. Anyone can make an account and upload to his profile in a matter of minutes. There’s no need for a label, distributor or any middle man.
"Bandcamp is for grassroots-level artists,” says Moore, who records and uploads amateur and professional releases on his extensive Bandcamp page. "It’s worked out well for me.”
Because anyone can upload her own music without an intermediary, artists don’t have to wait around for their material to show up on the site either.
"You don’t have to worry too much about publishing. Any kid can do it; he can put it up on Bandcamp and then promote the hell out of it,” Moore says. "I’ve had extreme success with it. It’s right here in the palm of my hands. I don’t have to send out something that somebody else has to put up; I can do it myself. It’s perfect for DIY.”
Similarly, both Shanley and Brechner applaud the lack of restraint on Bandcamp. "For me, it happens whenever I want, in real time,” Brechner says. "They do everything they can to support small artists; they’ve built a platform around it.”
Image: Flickr, Blixt
Spotify: Multi-Platform and User-Friendly CapabilitiesSpotify is a perfect example of catering to the audience. Not only are its slick mobile apps more convenient than Bandcamp's, but it also includes playlist features and more social integration. And with a bottom-up approach, this appeal to listeners is a crucial facet that affects artists and labels, as well.
"One of the core functions of a label is to connect music that we’re passionate about and help that music find an audience. Spotify as a service is incredibly easy for that,” says Laing. "A lot of people listen to it on their smartphone or tablet.”
Laing sees Spotify as just another part in the whole of music consumption. "I think ... what raises the profile and generates interests gives us the best chance of gaining more fans and more interest in that music,” he said. "From there, it’s up to us to serve those people in however they want to consume that music.”
Sub Pop's mission is to release its albums on channels where there are possible audience members. With the current segmentation of the market, it’s important Sub Pop is present on most, if not all, of these channels.
Some consumers will buy limited edition vinyl; others will buy a CD from chain stores; still others will listen to an album online. "I think it’s naïve to think that by not putting a record out there, that the excitement or power of a new Sub Pop record is going to change that behavior,” Laing says. "I think that’s backwards.”
Bandcamp: Flexibility and EngagementIn some ways, Bandcamp also caters to the segmentation of music consumption, but from the perspective of the artists. While most Bandcamp accounts host mostly digital albums, artists aren’t limited in what they can sell. They can list everything from physical record copies to other miscellaneous merchandise.
"It’s cool because younger bands can use Bandcamp as their central hub for everything,” says De Santis. "They can choose what they want to stream; they can sell physical stuff; tour dates get posted on there through Songkick.”
Furthermore, Bandcamp lets artists customize their pages' design. "There’s no ads or clutter. It sort of feels like how MySpace was a long time ago for bands,” says De Santis. "Bandcamp just seems like the next wave of that, giving artists the control that they want.”
Shanley is doing exactly that. In addition to his digital releases, he also sells other merchandise, such as physical art. "It’s a storefront,” he says. "It’s almost like an Etsy site, where you can pretty much sell anything.”
Even within digital releases, Shanley likes the flexibility of Bandcamp to offer various types of files. "I’m also kind of an audio nerd, so I like the idea of being able to download FLAC files instead of a simple 320kbps MP3 file.”
Along with this flexibility, Bandcamp offers detailed statistics that help artists with fan engagement. "It shows me where people are coming from, what songs they’re listening to, how long they’re listening to them,” says Shanley. "When they download stuff, I can get their email address and their ZIP code for some other kinds of ways to communicate with them.”
Finally, a primarily local artist, Shanley says Bandcamp is helpful in setting up local gigs. "It helps me to get something to my fans quickly.”
Different Audiences and CultureSo, Bandcamp or Spotify? While there are similarities between the two services, each still stands firmly in its own realm.
For example, Bandcamp’s users, by virtue of its service structure, may be more active listeners compared to those of Spotify, who may be more passive with Spotify’s continuous streaming layout.
Additionally, Bandcamp is built for artists, whereas Spotify caters more to music consumers. And even though the latter does affect the way artists distribute music, the two are still fundamentally different in their purposes. "For Bandcamp, it’s about being able to distribute and sell your music and connect with people in a different way than Spotify, which is more or less like free music, like radio,” says Willen.
While each has its pros and cons, both services can coexist in the world of digital music, at least until a new medium elbows in."