September 04, 2020
You'll likely see a lot of posts today about it being "Bandcamp Friday". For those who don't know what this means, in a nutshell Bandcamp usually charge artists and record labels a 10% fee when you buy a digital download, LP, merch item or similar. On the first Friday of the month until the end of the year they're passing this 10% on to the artist or label. So on a £20 vinyl, its an extra £2 to band or label - which helps to deal with the debt mountain most bands and small DIY labels like APF operate under.
"Debt mountain?" I hear you ask? Well, yeah. Streaming on Spotify is ace as a music fan isn't it? A whole world of music at your finger tips for just £10 a month (or free if you don't mind adverts). Streaming is also a fabulous revenue-generator if you are Metallica or Slipknot. For those of us at the bottom of the music industry food chain Spotify and streaming is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it's such an ace tool for getting people to hear your music. On the other hand, bands or labels get a miniscule 0.004p every time you listen to one of our tracks in full. Meaning we need 5000 track streams to bring in the same money we would get from selling one LP.
As a typical "DIY album" will cost a band between £500 and £1000 to record (and that's doing it real quick), with artwork costing say £500 more, a band will need their tracks to be streamed HALF A MILLION times just to cover that outlay.
If they want their album on vinyl, add between £1000 and £2000 for that (depending on how swanky it looks). It's hard to get loads of media attention unless you engage a PR firm, and they will cost between £500 and £2000 for 3-months promoting the record for you. Then there's CDs, tapes and merch. And that's before you start thinking about doing a video.
The band needs somewhere to store their gear and rehearse and write songs. That adds cost. Small bands mostly play live for a fee that doesn't cover their petrol to the gig. Then there's new strings for the guitars, maintenance of kit.... well you get my drift yeah?
Being in a band or running a record label is all cost cost cost. And as most people just stream music these days (and why wouldn't they when it's so cheap, easy and accessible to do so) those costs are often just not covered. APF has never made a profit. It's subsidised heavily. We do it for the love of it. All of our bands do too. We aren't moaning, we're just telling it like it is.
That extra 10% Bandcamp passes on today really helps. If you only stream music, that's ace. But go buy a t-shirt today, if you can afford it. Or a digital download, so you can listen to the music in high definition glory as opposed to Spotify's mp3 quality. The bands will be eternally grateful to you.
Happy Friday. 🤘