Punks these days have it all.
I grew up in a single-family house with a mom that was leather-jacket-deep in the first wave of both the UK and US punk scene (’77 to ’82). Music and collecting it, for me, has always been a very personal and direct experience. Immersed in a subculture that had little to no spotlight within the commercial music industry came with challenges. As an ‘80s youth, I spent lawn-mowing earnings on the latest 7 or 12 inches of wax pressed by punk stalwarts at the time. This involved sending well-hidden cash or 7-Eleven money orders in the mail, directly to either the band or the DIY label. This was my MO as I wasn’t deemed old enough to experience my favorite bands live in concert. How did I find out about these new releases? Word of mouth, fanzines, and even direct mail correspondence from bands alerted me to the latest “ground-pounder”. And if it wasn’t for a Xeroxed black and white DIY ad for Bikini Kill’s “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” LP at Pittsburgh, PA’s top indie record shop circa ‘93; I would’ve been years behind in being introduced to progressive feminist gleanings from Kathleen Hanna (as well as soaking up that fine OLY sound). Their side of a classic split with UK’s Huggy Bear paved my way in becoming a socially-conscious individual, and I was only in high school.
Fast-forward to today. Independent music, thanks in large part to the information revolution and the .mp3 file format, is 10,000 (maniacs?) times more accessible. The recent leaders in providing SaaS to global artists, small or big, are bandcamp and SoundCloud. Both founded in 2007, they are often considered social channels. While SoundCloud seems to have functions which resemble a social media site (e.g. liking a track or artist), its main feature is enabling an artist to upload a track within a given URL. This allows the artist to embed the track on their pages within other social media channels. SoundCloud, having been founded in Berlin, also opens a loyal European user base to non-EU artists wishing to expand their reach. Bandcamp, on the other hand, is a service for musicians that want to cut out the middle man (aka THE man) from the equation and distribute their music directly to the digital world. This virtual merch booth allows bands to connect with their fans, and gives tools such as SEO optimization. Bandcamp does take some money from their services, in the form of 15% of all sales (reducing to 10% after your first $5k in total sales) (Source link).
Personally, I’ve used SoundCloud to hear recordings from shows of favorite bands. It has also been the song or album player of choice within my favorite genres when I notice new releases on bands’ facebook pages. Bandcamp, on the other hand, has been my go-to source for previewing efforts from upstart bands. Solid efforts usually win my money for purchasing the digital release, directly from the band via their bandcamp merch booth. Truly amazing releases push me a step further to contact the band via bandcamp to request the purchase, or pre-order of their vinyl release. Just last year I discovered and fell in love with 2 UK punk bands, because I heard rave reviews in a fanzine and landed on their bandcamp pages. They are playing Seattle in May and I even contacted them to offer showing them around the city the day of the show.
So how do these two services fare in the social media world? I’ve created a comparison in the table below:
Based on the data gathered, SoundCloud definitely has numbers that suggest its multi-continental reach. SoundCloud also utilize Instagram and tumblr, while bandcamp currently focus on facebook and twitter as their social media vehicles.
And like a great punk anthem I will stop here, just as you’re begging for more.