And it’s gone. In shocking news, Bandcamp has been sold to its third owner since February 2022.
In a memo shared on its website on Thursday, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney announced significant job cuts at the company and — as an aside — that Bandcamp has been sold off to new owners.
Epic had acquired Bandcamp scarcely more than a year ago.
The new owner of Bandcamp is Songtradr, a music licensing platform. It was not publicly known that Bandcamp was for sale prior to today’s announcement, revealed in a single sentence in Sweeney’s memo.
“Around 16%” of Epic employees were cut, Sweeney said, as the company was “investing in the next evolution of Epic” and growing Fortnite, the company’s standout product, as a “metaverse-inspired ecosystem for creators.”
Songtradr describes itself in a flurry of buzzwords as “the world’s largest B2B music company, delivering the only full-stack solution for all business music needs.” Essentially they license music, and presumably look at Bandcamp as a source of content for licensing. In a statement on their website, Songtradr announced they will “continue to operate Bandcamp as a marketplace and music community with an artist-first revenue share.”
Paul Wiltshire, CEO of Songtradr, says he’s a “passionate musician myself” and that Bandcamp will “join a team of music industry veterans and artists who have deep expertise in music licensing, composition, rights management, and distribution.”
Epic purchased Bandcamp in March 2022 from its longtime owners. As 5 Mag noted in a recent feature, the constant innovation that characterized Bandcamp over the last decade virtually ceased after Epic acquired the company — the only real new feature has been listening parties for new releases, which few artists seem to be using.
Epic’s primary interest in the company seemed to be using Bandcamp in their lawsuits against Apple and Google parent company Alphabet over their app stores. Bandcamp immediately became enmeshed in the litigation over app store fees, threatening to pass on additional fees to customers or cease mobile sales altogether.
It’s not clear what exactly the new owners will do with Bandcamp. Clearly, this kind of turmoil is not a good sign. Having three owners since February 2022 is usually a bad sign for an existing business, particularly one that profits from slim margins from facilitating the sale of physical and digital products.
Despite the turmoil and lack of attention by its absentee owners, Bandcamp remains an irreplaceable part of today’s music ecosystem. We don’t have “another Bandcamp” if this one goes ka-boom. Unless soundcloud and Traxsource start selling merch and vinyl, this is it.