Spotify or Bandcamp
Spotify or Bandcamp – Where should you send your fans?
Bandcamp or Spotify – both sites are spaces where musicians can upload their music to have it discovered by new fans, but where should you be sending your fans?
And more importantly, which is better for artists?
When I say ‘better for artists’, I’m talking about which platform will help artists to make a sustainable living from their art, build a community around their music and make money from releasing music.
In truth, I believe there is a space for your music to be on both platforms. But you need to strategise and use the two platforms to your advantage for this to work.
I have a super strategy for this towards the end of this blog, but first, let’s answer the burning question…
Where can you make the most money as an artist?
When it comes to which platform can make you the most money, let’s break down the facts…
Spotify offers $0.004 per stream of your music. Bandcamp gives 82% of the sale back to the artist.
That’s great on paper, but how does this work in practice?
If you sell one album on Bandcamp for $9.99, you will get, on average, $8.19 in your pocket.
On Spotify, to make $8.19, you’d need to get 2,047 streams.
So, is it easier to make 1 sale or get 2,047 streams?
Surely it’s easier to make one sale… Bandcamp wins every time.
I recently did an interview from an indie artist, who said after promoting their latest release, “Put it this way, I’ve made hundreds on Bandcamp, and I’ve made like $13 on Spotify…” After looking at the platforms in terms of streaming/sales numbers, you can see why.
You can put in a lot of work promoting your music on Spotify but the platform simply isn’t fair to artists so you’re not going to see very good revenue returns.
Streams VS Sales
The other big difference between Spotify and Bandcamp is streams vs sales.
I have a big problem with streams… other than being a possibly high number that looks pretty, they are worth very little.
And the opposite too, that <1000 sign on Spotify is just disheartening.
No matter how good the music is, if it has the dreaded <1000 next to it, people are likely to pass it up and look for ‘popular’ tracks, assuming the music isn’t worth their time.
Also, you cannot reach the people who stream your music.
It’s a one way street. They can find you if they want to but you can’t email them, you can’t add them to your social media, and you can’t sell them merch or gig tickets.
Streamers might as well be bots listening to your music, and in some cases they probably are.
Bandcamp, on the other hand, gives you sales.
With sales, people are investing in you and have a much higher likelihood of coming back to find out more.
As a result, with Bandcamp, you can build a community of fans around your art and create a powerful platform to grow from.
You get important data and information on who is buying your music which you can use for future promotions.
If you decide to run ads to your music you are starting with proven data of who is buying your tunes. If you know which demographic have bought from you before, you are able to target similar people who are likely to buy again.
Who has the best sound quality?
As artists, writing and producing music takes time and effort.
We spend a lot of time and money recording, mixing, producing and mastering our music.
And after it’s finished and we are ready for the world to hear it, we want listeners to receive the best experiences when streaming or buying our tracks.
The problem is Spotify uses MP3 files. Furthermore, they compress the files during upload, so any mixing or sound quality issues sound even worse when you play the music on Spotify.
That’s pretty crap, to be honest.
However, Bandcamp is great for getting high-quality audio. They require tracks to be either WAV (. wav), AIFF (. aiff) or FLAC (. flac) files. So the listener will experience a higher-quality playback.
Bandcamp lets your music be heard the way it was intended to be listened to.
So Bandcamp wins again.
Even Spotify’s Main Advantage Isn’t So Great!
The thing Spotify has in its favour is playlists. They are far superior to Bandcamp’s organic reach… or is it?
On Spotify, you can apply to be included in Spotify’s editorial playlists, where if placed, your music is put in front of an infinite amount of new listeners. That sounds pretty cool, but let’s dig a little deeper.
Spotify state that they receive 60,000 new songs per day on their service.
That is a HUGE amount of tracks. 21,900,000 songs per year, to be precise.
Spotify also says that they playlist about 150,000 new artists a year…
So out of 21,900,000 songs uploaded per year, Spotify only chooses around 150,000 to put on their most influential playlists.
That means out of the tracks uploaded to Spotify, only 0.00685% get playlisted.
It’s a bit like playing the lottery with editorial playlists on Spotify… unless you have big backing behind you… which most people do not, the odds are not in your favour.
Having said all of that, Spotify is still king for many…
Having said all of that, if you ask most people where they listen to music, Spotify will be their answer.
It’s a service that benefits the listeners more than the music makers.
Spotify is the largest subscription music streaming service, with 96 million subscribers and 170 million users overall.
That’s a lot of people. Their reach is unparalleled to any other site and there is no doubt that it is a powerful platform to be included in.
So why not try a strategy that can leverage both services to benefit you as a musician?
Strategy – Use Both Spotify and Bandcamp To Your Advantage
If you’d like a strategy to use to utilise both Spotify and Bandcamp to your advantage, try this…
Release singles on Spotify.
Having some music on Spotify will allow you to get exposure via playlisting (listener playlists can be powerful) and use Spotify’s algorithm to your advantage.
The everyday music listener loves Spotify, and being included in their search results will not harm you, you are likely to pick up some new fans.
But it won’t make you rich either.
So when it comes to bigger releases…
Release EPs and full albums on Bandcamp only. This is the best way to ensure you get the most money from your sales.
You have done all you can to reach a new audience on Spotify, and if those people want to hear more, they need to buy the full release on Bandcamp.
Of course, not everyone will buy, but those that do will make up for those that don’t and will help fund you to make more music.
Tell your audience why you are only releasing singles on Spotify and longer releases only on Bandcamp.
Spread your message on social media and via your mailing list.
You’ll be surprised how many people this will resonate with, and true fans want to support your art and help you to succeed.
A bit of honesty goes a long way.
The Wrap Up
There is undoubtedly a smaller audience on Bandcamp than on Spotify. But that is not a bad thing.
Bandcamp comprises a community of music lovers who want to hear great new music and know artists need to be supported to do that.
Spotify is filled with casual music listeners and the dreaded bots. But is a bot going to support your career? Unfortunately not.
Increasingly it feels that if you want to make a living selling your music, Spotify isn’t the place to do that.
Bandcamp is a fair platform for artists and it’s where you need to be directing your fans if you want to put money in your pocket!
These are my thoughts, i’d love to hear yours! Drop a comment below and tell me what you think!