It’s not always easy to promote and market your music for maximum exposure on platforms like Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud and YouTube. All of them have their own particular success strategies, and it’s rarely the logical one.
Such is definitely the case with Bandcamp, a platform where you really need to think about tags and other things that you can set in your artist profile settings. A few mistakes on Bandcamp can have a big effect on the results of the often grueling work that is recording and promoting music.
These are my tips and learnings, I’d love to get some comments if you have something to add. Feel free to share this with fellow struggling musicians as well! I hope this guide can help you to music promotion success on Bandcamp in 2019.
Bandcamp and the hierachy of music platforms
Since Bandcamp is a digital platform with a strong focus of selling music, it’s a much more important tool than SoundCloud. Bandcamp is a central platform for exposure, but its impact on the money you make from your digital music cannot be exaggerated.
About the author
I’m Stefan Nordströ, an aspiring underground musician and content creator. This is one of the ways I promote Soliloquium, my progressive death/doom metal band. If you’re searching for new music in the style, it would be awesome if you listened to my stuff.
I have no intention of making a living from my music, but Bandcamp is certainly the only way to get my invested money back, if I don’t run into a great record deal. Bandcamp’s weakness is probably the social aspect; it’s not set up for congregating with your fans in the way that you can do it on Facebook or YouTube.
The best solution is to have a full content marketing strategy where you use a mix of the best available music platforms. I’ve tried out quite a few, but I’m only truly active on Bandcamp, YouTube and Facebook. SoundCloud is also worth posting on to get some extra reach.
Breakdown of Soliloquium Bandcamp
The Soliloquium Bandcamp page has had around 25 000 visitors since May 2012. Those visits rendered 9 600 plays, 2 000 downloads and 87 purchases in the sum of 362 USD. The rates cannot be considered general knowledge since it depends a lot on smart page design, but these numbers still raised my eyebrows.
From the visitors on this website, only about 3 % will actually reach the Bandcamp page. This roughly means that:
- 35 % of the visitors will actually play a song
- 8 % of the visitors will download something
- 0,3 % will purchase music using name your price
- Each visitor renders average income of 4 cents
An interesting case study in Bandcamp music promotion
RavenGuide’s blog offers an interesting case study in Bandcamp music promotion with many practical learnings. It was interesting read for me, both affirming my previous strategies, and bringing some new promotional ideas to the table.
Tags are extremely important on Bandcamp as well
Just as when you’re promoting your music on SoundCloud, the importance of using relevant tags cannot be overstated. Picking the right genre and connected sub-genres determine where your music shows up in Discover. As I will explain further, the composition of main genre and subgenre settings are vital to your success on Bandcamp.
Many artists fail to get their music optimally listed in Bandcamp Discover (I know I did for a long time). Bandcamp Discover is where best selling, new and recommended music shows up. For your releases to show up in Bandcamp discover, you need to tag your music correctly and strategically. Use the genres that are listed in Discover to rank for them.
Main music genre and sub-genres
Bandcamp lets you pick one main genre, for instance metal. You can always change your genre in your artist profile settings. For maximum exposure, your subgenres need to be part of the main music genre in the Discover tree as shown in the image above. Use Discover to make research about the genres that would fit your music’s tags.
Why are genre tags so important?
Bandcamp Discover does not allow you to get listed in different main categories. If you choose sub-genres that don’t belong to your main genres Discover “tree”, you will not show up in top lists for them. In the worst case scenario, this mistake will mean that you only show up on top lists for your main genre choice.
This will highly limit your Bandcamp exposure since you’re missing out on tags, and competiting for what’s likely your music’s most highly populated tag. In my experience, being a subgenre high seller is the easiest way to success on Bandcamp, so this could be an expensive mistake.
Bandcamp location settings and Discover
Your artists location is also a safe bet for getting some traffic, if you do it right. Discover allows you to find music from some locations, for instance metal music from Stockholm in my screenshot. I’m not lucky enough to have my band Soliloquium show up there at this point, but I’m working on it.
The important part is picking a location that exists in Discover, or you’re giving up a chance for some free Bandcamp exposure. Even if you’re from a suburb or a few hours away, use Stockholm or Gothenburg instead of a more local tag. Artist location is easy to change in your profile settings, just like your genre.
Offer professional music and artwork
Getting listed in Bandcamp Discover is one important step, but offering music and artwork that draw people in is the final one. The Discover listings are filled with compelling artwork, so you really need to have something that stands out to bring in fans looking for new music. If you don’t follow through and offer professionally produced music, chances are you’ll lose your potential fans in the last possible step.
Don’t forget to have optimized pictures on Bandcamp, so your artwork and band pictures look good on mobiles and tablets as well. Also, the best looking version of the artwork is not always the one that’s attention-grabbing and sells the best on a competitive online platform. Classic mistake on Desolator’s page below, the image wasn’t 100 % square.
Recommendations from other Bandcamp artists
If you have friends that are playing similar music, make sure that you’re doing the win-win that is recommending eachother’s music. I’ve gotten fair amounts of profile visitors this way, and the best part is that it costs nothing. Make a habit of asking for recommendations in this situation, and offer your recommendation back.
Drive traffic to your Bandcamp
If selling digital music is your goal, don’t forget to use every chance you’ve got to drive traffic to your Bandcamp. Link it in the most visible way possible on Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube and other band platforms like your homepage. Personal profiles on sites like Last.fm and Rateyourmusic can be a good place to get Bandcamp visitors as well. If you post on forums, don’t forget about having a link in your signatures!
Post a review or quote for extra conversions
Aside from being a decorative element and a way to provide some extra information, a quote and a link to a review is a way to entice your visitors to download or stream your releases. It’s a genuine way to describe the positive sides of your music, and the reviewer often appreciates getting the content promotion as well.
Bandcamp free download credits
You can only offer a certain number of free downloads from your Bandcamp account. Bandcamp’s system for free download credits is not the smoothest system, and if you have release up for free it can suddenly cost 10 $ without you knowing about it, due to the lack of feedback. I try to keep up with buying download credits, but it’s not easy to always have them ready.
Don’t forget to build an e-mail list
No matter if you have the intention of having a newsletter or not, Bandcamp offers the possibility to collect e-mail addresses from the people who download your music. This list is an invaluable asset a year later, when you’re sitting there ready to promote your next album; just push “send” and you will have informed the fans of the previous release about its successor.
An option to make more money from Bandcamp is to enable subscriptions. It’s a way to generate extra income and keep in better touch with your fans over time. You can also provide them with special subscriber only material. I am yet to try this out, but a starting fee of 30 cent (revenue share, 15 % and payment processing fee of 2,9 %) feels more than reasonable, even for a poor underground metal musician.
And don’t forget to add your merch and physical CD’s
Bandcamp added the possibility to sell merch and physical CD’s over the platform. I tried adding my remaining CD’s as an experiment, just to see what the effect would be on sales. I realized that people do buy CD’s over Bandcamp; it’s definitely worth putting your stash up for sale on there. It’s worth nothing that Bandcamp does take a cut. But it’s a much better option then letting your CD’s and merch collect dust in storage.
The system is also pretty smooth, since you get the order address in a mail from Bandcamp. After that you’re able to confirm that the order shipped, along with a message to the customer. All-in-all, I’m very happy with this system. Don’t forget that the people that buy CD’s or merch will also be a nice addition to your e-mail list.
Read more about online music promotion:
Digital marketing and music promotion ->
Promoting metal music online ->
Promoting your music on SoundCloud ->
Promoting your music on Spotify ->
Promoting your music on YouTube ->
SEO for musicians ->
Soliloquium’s profile on Bandcamp ->