xavier godart

music, art & software - Bordeaux, France.

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Bandcamp alternatives in 2024

2024-02-03

Since its acquisition by Epic Games in 2022 and SongTradr in 2023, followed by the lay off of 50% of its employees, there's been some incertainty about the future of Bandcamp.

Although nothing has changed on the platform yet, it's fair to say that the trust in its sustainability has declined.

And with that came lots of discussions on the independant artist depedance on Bandcamp, and the obvious lack of alternative platforms.

Fast-forward a few months, lets check what came out from these discussions. I'll only talk about drop-in Bandcamp replacement in terms of features:

  • music player
  • free and pay-what-you-want downloads
  • subscriptions / patronage
  • direct-to-fan communication
  • catalog exploration
  • physical & merch sales
  • label functionality
  • fan page & collection

Please note that these platform are still in heavy development and that their feature set will probably grow in the coming weeks or months.

mirlo

mirlo has been released recently and seems like they aim to clone what Bandcamp did, but with an emphasis on sustainability. Behind the platform is a worker co-op, the project is open-source and available on github, and they follow a thing called Exit to Community.

This is a concept I wasn't familiar with. In a nutshell, it's some kind of a mindset where the intent is to ensure that whatever the exit of the structure behind the service is, the community relying on it won't be impacted.

Artists need to open a Stripe account in order to receive payments, so standard Stripe fees will apply, in addition to some revenue share with mirlo according to their terms, but I can't find how much.

Features:

  • music player
  • free and pay-what-you-want downloads
  • subscriptions / patronage
  • direct-to-fan communication (fan email collection + a simple blog on the artist page)
  • fan page & collection

Price: Stripe fees per transaction + revenue share with mirlo

jam.coop

Similar to mirlo, jam.coop is run by a co-op and is open-source, and they seem to have similar ethics.

Their roadmap indicates that they aims to match most Bandcamp features.

Features:

  • music player
  • free and pay-what-you-want downloads
  • direct-to-fan communication (email)

Price: Stripe fees per transaction, unsure about any other fees

artcore

Online since 2022, artcore is the oldest entry on the list, and probably the richer in terms of features. Their catalog is the bigger too, and seems to be slightly oriented towards electronic music.

Contrary to the other platforms, they seem to operate more like a traditional company. It isn't open-source, and the revenue share is 20% (in addition to Paypal fees), which is 5% more than Bandcamp.

Features:

  • music player
  • free and pay-what-you-want downloads
  • direct-to-fan communication
  • catalog exploration
  • label functionality

Price: 20% revenue share + PayPal fees

Ampwall

Ampwall is not open to everyone yet, but it seems active and about to be released (they say early 2024). They seem to share similar ethics with mirlo and jam.coop. They also seem to be the only one in the list to support physical and merchandising sells.

Features (from what the demo page shows for now):

  • music player
  • free and pay-what-you-want downloads
  • physical & merch sales

Price: Unknown yet

Self-hosted alternatives

If you want to go the self-hosted way and get your hands dirty, here's a couple of solutions.

faircamp

faircamp is a static site generator, which means that you organise your music and content in a hierarchy of files, run the program, and you get a fully featured website, ready to upload on a web hosting provider.

It seems fairly easy to operate and is very well documented. You'll need an account on a payment platform in order to receive payment, but Faircamp doesn't force you to use of any specific one. The payment tunnel is actually pretty simple, as they don't enforce the payment from the user (Soft Paycurtain). You just trust them to make the payment.

Features:

  • music player
  • free and pay-what-you-want downloads
  • label functionality

Price: Payment platform fees + hosting provider fees (but there's plenty of cheap options out there)

Rauversion

Rauversion is a full-featured self-hosted Bandcamp alternative. It requires more technical skills to operate. But the platform offers lots of features that other don't, with social features and editorial contents to highlight the catalog or events/ticketing features.

The project doesn't look very active, but there's still some activity on the github repository.

Features:

  • music player
  • free and pay-what-you-want downloads
  • direct-to-fan communication (social features)
  • catalog exploration
  • label functionality
  • fan page & collection

Price: Payment platform fees + hosting provider fees

Conclusion

It's pretty awesome to see a few promising alternatives now, and more will probably come up this year. Right now, they seem to cover the basic features that made Bandcamp great.

But there's still a lot of work, and one problem that still needs to be solved is discoverability. One advantage of having a centralized platform that a lot of people use, is that it makes catalog exploration and search easy to do. In a post-Bandcamp era where there might be multiple platforms, they will need to federate in order to solve this problem.

An ActivityPub protocol integration could be one way. It's what Mastodon uses for example.

Hopefully, we will see work in that direction in the near future.