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[UPDATE: I'm now GIVING AWAY my Bandcamp Secrets eBook! See details at the bottom of this post]

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Last week I gave you some tips on making your YouTube channel more effective, and today I want to focus on one of my favorite tools for independent musicians that currently exists: Bandcamp.

Bandcamp, if you don’t already know, is a platform that allows you to sell your music directly to your fans. You are in complete control of pricing (unlike iTunes, Amazon mp3, etc) and can do things like offer sales, free download codes, and much more. If you haven’t considered using it for your own music, I’d really recommend you go give it a good look.

I’ve been selling my own music on Bandcamp for about 2.5 years now, and I’ve been able to experiment with it and learn the best ways to use it. So let’s get into it, shall we?

1. Good banner design

Bandcamp allows you to create and upload your own banner that is displayed at the top of your page. This is what mine looks like:

Design a Bandcamp Header using image mapsAs you can see, mine is just a slice of my newest release’s album cover with some simple text on it. Take some time to make sure that yours is clean, simple, and not an annoying affront to people’s eyes.

2. Use an image map in your header

This one is so easy to do and so helpful, but so many people seem to miss out on it! As you can see in my image above, I’ve put text on my header directing listeners to different places where they can connect with me. They act as links, even though they’re part of the image. This is done using an image map. To make an image map, put the text (or images, whatever you want) in your header image. Then upload that image to this site (or any other image map creator website). That site will then allow you to create regions on top of your text or images for your links. It will then give you back some simple HTML code that you can enter into the ‘Custom Header’ section on your Bandcamp profile page. That’s it! Now your header will have whatever links you want and you’ll greatly increase the chances of people connecting with you on other places.

Want more Bandcamp Tips?
"FREE Bandcamp Secrets eBook"
Subscribe and receive my weekly music tips and other exclusive content. WHAT'S INSIDE: ✓ Bandcamp header design strategies ✓ growing an email list with Bandcamp ✓ integrate Bandcamp with Facebook ✓ and much, much more!

3. Set up a custom domain

This is another little thing that will separate yourself from most others on Bandcamp. Instead of using the default yourbandname.bandcamp.com URL that you initially receive, set up a custom domain for your Bandcamp page. Bandcamp has a help page on how to do it here. My custom URL is music.lowercasenoises.com. If you’re just starting out and don’t have an official homepage, you can even set www.yourbandname.com as your Bandcamp URL. Take the time to do this, it’ll make it obvious to a listener that you’re taking yourself seriously!

Edit: since posting this I’ve discovered that using a custom URL is a feature only available to those who purchase Bandcamp Pro, which is $10/month. Personally, I think it’s worth it, especially if you’re using Bandcamp as your main website. Hosting another homepage anywhere else is going to be at least $10/month anyway.

4. Choose the most ear-grabbing featured track

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 9.24.47 AMFor each album you upload, Bandcamp allows you to choose a featured track. This track will be the first to play when people visit your page, but more importantly it’s the track people will hear when they stumble across your music in Bandcamp’s relatively new Discover section. By default your first track is featured, but you can choose a different one by clicking the star next to it in the album edit view (as seen on the right). Think about which track would draw you in the most within the first few seconds!

5. Choose your tags wisely

When you upload an album, Bandcamp gives you the ability to tag your album with a few genres. Enter all the tags you feel appropriately describe your music. This will obviously increase your chances of being discovered by someone searching for music of a specific genre.

6. Always let people pay more for your music

Regardless of whether you’re “giving away” your album or selling it for $13, it’s my opinion that you should always allow people to give you more money if they’re so inclined. You might be pleasantly surprised at how generous people are! On the album edit page just check the box that says “let fans pay more if they want”.

7. Point people to your page

Now that you’ve spent all this time and energy making your Bandcamp page the best it can be, make sure it’s the first place you send people who want to hear your music! Use the Bandcamp Facebook app. Make it the main link you share when you release new material. List it first on your website, above iTunes and Amazon. Don’t forget that Bandcamp collects the email address of each person that downloads music from you, so it’s in your best interest to send as many people as you can there instead of to iTunes or other services!

That’s it! Bandcamp is truly an awesome service for musicians like you and me. Hopefully this helps you take full advantage of everything it offers!

I’m now GIVING AWAY my Bandcamp Secrets eBook!

In this eBook I go into much more detail about how to use Bandcamp’s underused, but extremely important features. I’ve been using Bandcamp for a long time and I’ve done all the hard work of figuring out it’s most important features for you. In this content rich eBook you learn:

  • How to design a custom Bandcamp header using an image map
  • How to take advantage of your Bandcamp Profile Page
  • How to feature your best tracks
  • How to stay connected with those that download your music (even your free music)
  • How to integrate Bandcamp with Facebook
  • How to run effective promotions with Bandcamp
  • What you need to know about Bandcamp Pro
  • and more!

Just fill out the form below for INSTANT ACCESS to Bandcamp Secrets for Independent Musicians.

Want more Bandcamp Tips?
Then please subscribe and receive my weekly music tips and other exclusive content. You will receive TWO FREE EBOOKS; Bandcamp Secrets and my Musician's Toolkit. With these I reveal EVERYTHING that I use to record, produce, and successfully promote my music.

 

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  • Steve H

    is there a way od stopping your songs playing all the way through on Bandcamp? I fear many people will just stream music on there I guess a risk you take if this is the case.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      I personally think it’s in your best interest to stream the whole song, as do the people who run Bandcamp. They talk about it a little here: http://bandcamp.com/faq#snippets

    • http://www.atlumschema.com Andy Mort

      looking at my stats there are very few people who just stream my music. i guess if you are charging more than people want to pay for it then you might have that but i guess that maybe tells you to put it out there for free – at least that way you can collect email addresses. in my opinion it’s (deliberately) not a great service for just streaming music.

      • Kieran

        My 2 cents worth.. Here are my stats for my artist http://www.brina.bandcamp.com Plays/Streams versus paid downloads.. Paid Song downloads – 121 total , Complete Plays – 3,866, Partial Plays – 4,045. We have also sold 25 CDs through Bandcamp. I would be interested to hear about other artists stats re Streams vs Downloads. I think Bandcamp is a great platform, and yes I have read the blog quoted above.. It is a good idea to let fans hear music before they decide to buy, but to be honest I think a lot of people just use Bandcamp as a free jukebox! At least when my songs get played on Radio I get a royalty check, or even on spotify etc, I get about 0.003c… which is bad, but better than nothing!

  • http://www.atlumschema.com Andy Mort

    Great post. You finally pushed me into creating an image map too, which is very useful! and something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Thanks!

  • Josh

    When I’m creating my image map, the map gets all mixed up once I put the code into Bandcamp.. is there a fix for this? Like, the Twitter link goes over to where the Youtube link is, and everything jut gets pushed further away from where I placed them.

  • http://twitter.com/niclake Nic Lake

    Just as an FYI, new Bandcamp users have to register for Bandcamp Pro in order to set up custom domains. Those who had Bandcamp before 4/11/12 get it for free, though.

  • Ben

    Great post! I’m trying to decide between Topspin and Bandcamp for launching my music soon. Any advice? Pros/cons to each?

  • Christopher Hair

    I tried to utilize the image mapping, but it doesn’t quite work like it should. The links only open up if you open them up in a pop-up browser. Pretty frustrating actually. I am pretty sure that there is a frame limiter, or something, that is prohibiting it from opening directly.
    Any help with how you handled this would be greatly appreciated.

  • Snaps Truly

    Hi there,

    It’s a great article you’ve written but I’d like to point out TWO cons to Bandcamp, one of which directly affects artist income.

    I’ve been searching for the best forum to publicise what I’ve
    uncovered and as yours is one of the best descriptions of how Bandcamp
    works I thought I’d post it here.

    Unfortunately your article doesn’t explain the share revenue balance situation so it’s best I quote Bandcamp themselves:

    “As you sell on Bandcamp, we track your revenue share balance, and when a
    sale comes along that’s less than or equal to your balance, that sale
    goes to Bandcamp. Let’s look at an example. Say you’re at the 10% rate,
    and you sell an album for $10. All $10 of that sale goes straight to
    you, but your revenue share balance (the amount you owe Bandcamp) is now
    $1. Then you sell another album for $10. All $10 of that sale again
    goes straight to you, and your balance is now $2. As more orders come
    in, the payments go to you and your balance continues to accumulate by
    10% of each sale. Eventually, the value of a sale will be less than the
    amount owed to Bandcamp (in this example, that would be the tenth sale).
    When that happens, the sale goes to Bandcamp and the balance you owe is
    reduced by that amount. You can view your current balance at any time
    by exporting your sales history from the Sales section of your Tools
    page.”

    Noting this, I’d like to inform you about
    something I discovered occurring late 2013. When Bandcamp takes
    the full revenue of a sale once the share revenue balance has been
    reached, if that sale happened to be a merch item (vinyl LP etc), THEY ALSO KEEP THE SHIPPING CHARGE paid by the fan. This is totally wrong and
    impacts poorly on the artist, who then not only doesn’t see that money
    that was paid for shipping, they then have to pay the shipping out of
    their own pocket. I’ve written to Bandcamp about this and received a
    totally inadequate response:

    “to the shipping and revenue share question. In the explanation: “…
    Shipping and tax, if applicable, are not included when calculating the
    share on merch” you’ll notice that it refers only to the calculation,
    not the collection of revenue share. When we calculate 10% or 15% of a
    sale, it’s only on the cost of the item itself before tax &
    shipping. When we collect a payment to cover your total balance, we
    collect the entirety of that payment, not just the cost
    pre-tax/shipping.
    This may seem problematic, but keep in mind that when payments
    go to you, you receive 100%, not 85% or 90%. When we collect a payment,
    the shipping for the respective order has effectively been covered by
    all of the payments that were sent to you in full up to that point.”

    I have been unable to find any mention of this online and feel it should be highlighted.

    Secondly, Bandcamp only offers ONE shipping charge that must apply
    for the REST OF THE WORLD. Rather than having the ability to click on a
    button to “Add Zone” or similar, Bandcamp provides ZERO functionality.
    For example, weighing a record I released this year I established the
    postage cost from Australia to the US was going to be about $28, to most
    of Europe $38 and some regions like Finland, Iceland would be almost
    $43 – yet I could only enter ONE shipping price.

    Again, Bandcamp have done nothing to rectify this problem.
    Sincerely,
    Snaps

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