What just happened? In the ongoing wave of acquisitions involving video game companies, this has to be the oddest one yet. At least Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo acquired other game companies these past few weeks, but Epic Games seems to think buying a music service fits its mission going forward.
This week, Bandcamp announced it’s becoming part of Epic Games. The two companies are in different entertainment industries entirely, but they indicate a common desire to build a marketplace that puts creators first.
Over the years, customers and artists have lauded Bandcamp for letting artists sell music without DRM (often bundled with physical copies on CD or vinyl). It is also well-known for passing more revenue to artists than Spotify and holding occasional “Bandcamp Friday” promotions where all sales money goes to the artists. Bandcamp’s co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond confirmed the company would remain a standalone music service and that its deal with Epic won’t change its current policies.
As for why it joined Epic, Diamond writes that the game company will help it expand globally and lend it more resources for developing the music service’s technical aspects. Epic adds that it wants to build a market encompassing games, music, art, technology, and more.
“Fair and open platforms are critical to the future of the creator economy,” the game company said in a press release. “Epic and Bandcamp share a mission of building the most artist-friendly platform that enables creators to keep the majority of their hard-earned money.”
The sentiment is similar to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s comments throughout the legal battles with Apple. He has railed against the 30 percent revenue cut Apple takes from developers on its app store. When the Epic Games Store first launched, its main selling point was the lower revenue split it took compared to Steam.
Bandcamp shows the huge effect a small amount of core supporters have on artist income. It shows that sustenance is available to those not massively popular or connected. It’s ideal, and it shouldn’t get bigger, but it is.
All I ask today is for you to please not stop using it.
— 2 Mello (@MelloMakes) March 2, 2022
However, many artists and fans are unsurprisingly skeptical that Bandcamp will stay the way it is indefinitely under Epic.
“Even if things are fine for the next few months, this can only go in worse directions,” tweeted Mel Stone, an artist who gets half of her music revenue from Bandcamp.
Another artist, 2 Mello, praised the service for its sustainability, pleading with fans to continue supporting it.
“It shows that sustenance is available to those not massively popular or connected. It’s ideal, and it shouldn’t get bigger, but it is,” the artist said.