In an unexpected and much-discussed move, music publishing platform Bandcamp has been acquired by video game and software developer Epic Games. It’s something of a strange marriage: the two companies are both American in origin and well-known in their respective spaces, but that’s about where the similarities end. Bandcamp, founded in 2008, has become a darling in the industry for allowing artists and labels to charge whatever they like for their music at a low commission, creating and maintaining a thriving, eclectic, and diverse independent music community; Epic, established in 1991, has risen from its humble origins as a computer consulting business to become a titan in the video game industry, thanks in no small part to their development of the Unreal game engine, investment from massive Chinese conglomerate Tencent, and their extremely popular freemium game, Fortnite.
The acquisition (the details of which have not been disclosed) has been cause for concern for many in independent music despite Bandcamp’s assertions that it will continue to operate as a standalone marketplace and community. In a statement written by co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond, the company assured users that they only agreed to the acquisition as Epic “[is] aligned with our values, and not only [wants] to see Bandcamp continue, but also [wants] to provide the resources to bring a lot more benefit to the artist, labels, and fans who use the site”.
Many are worried that because Bandcamp has been acquired by a very large company in a completely different sphere, everything they’ve grown to love about the platform will change. It’s not unreasonable for them to be concerned- with the advent of streaming, it’s more difficult than ever for artists to make a healthy living from their music, and this company has long provided a solution. Any changes could greatly affect the livelihoods of many, and as Epic is a far bigger company with a much higher revenue, users fear that profits could be put before the maintenance of the company’s ideals. Whether these fears are founded, however, remains to be seen, but I think I can speak for the majority of music lovers when I say that I sincerely hope that Bandcamp continues to be the flexible, accessible, artist-friendly market that it always has been.
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by Michael Ryan · Published May 24, 2018