Bandcamp to take 15% cut from artist sales

Bandcamp, one of the best online distribution tools for musicians, has recently announced they plan on charging 15% of all sales from artists.

I wrote a pretty lengthy comment on their blog, but it never got past comment moderation for whatever reason. Reposting here.

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Dear Bandcamp, my thoughts on your 15% cut:

1) TRANSPARENCY: Please detail exactly how you came up with this percentage, with a breakdown of your costs. Build trust & respect through transparency. People don't mind paying for things that have value, they just don't like feeling bamboozled.

2) CONSISTENCY: You are saying that above a certain total sales amount, you will drop your percentage cut from 15% to 10%. Confusing. Figure out how much you need to charge per sale and just stick to it...or detail how sales volume affects your bottom line and thus your percentage. See #1.

3) DON'T TAKE CUT OF PHYSICAL SALES: You allow artists to sell their own physical goods through your site. But unless you are involved in manufacturing or shipping these items, what costs are you incurring that entitle you to a 15% cut? See #1.

4) KEEP FREE, FREE: Below a certain sales threshold, keep the service free and uncrippled for a trial period. For instance, no percentage taken from first 25 transactions. After this initial trial period, it proves the service works and musicians will most likely stick with it.

5) DON'T TAKE A SALES CUT, BE AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE PROVIDER: By charging a percentage of sales, it makes you look like you are taking money away from artist sales. That's not very attractive to independent musicians. Leave artist's income untouched and instead charge them a monthly fee for your service based on bandwidth and traffic to their page, much like a cloud hosting provider. This creates a clear distinction of cost of services provided by Bandcamp and income generated by having the Bandcamp page. With good tracking tools, it will be easy for an artist to adjust the price that they charge for digital transactions to compensate for the cost of bandwidth, and they won't mind paying it because they see it as an essential cost to do business.

I love Bandcamp - but I hope they think a bit more about this business model, because it feels rushed and a step in the wrong direction. I know charging sales commission is a great way to make a lot of money, but it also is very reminiscent of record label contracts. In my humble opinion Bandcamp would do better to position themselves as a service provider and give musicians 100% of the sales. That way artists see Bandcamp as a service provider that is worth paying for instead of a middleman they need to get around.

How can we help the Chicago music community?

I've been meaning to start a blog for Soapbox (and actually I have about a year and a half of journal entries never published documenting the drama as we pursued our goals) but I figure here is as good as any to start and hopefully I can move discussions over to a more dedicated blog.

A big reason Brendan and I started Soapbox was because

1) we want to create a rad music space for ourselves and friends
2) we want to build, connect, collaborate, and meet other musicians
3) different communal creative spaces lead to unexpected happenings, inspiration, experimentation

So far we've had a free chiptunes show, a dance party, regular music workshops, and of course we try and cover our costs by renting out the space for music rehearsal and barebones recording. To me the workshops and free shows are the most exciting, and the rehearsals are the most useful (but less exciting). The balance comes from trying to meet our costs but maximizing awesomeness. Doing something exciting. We definitely don't want to be just another rehearsal space...

If you guys had a space like this, what would you do with it? Would you keep it tight-knit or really open it up? What ideas do you guys have for usage of the space? What do musicians in Chicago need the most and how could we have the most positive impact on the music community as a whole?

Ingredients for an intelligent website

Has anyone made an A.I. blogger? I think it would be bizarre if you programmed in some keywords/topics for and it went and starting publishing all these news articles and op-eds to the world on its own. And maybe based on comments from users on its posts it would adjust its tone...

What makes for a successful blogger? I am not one, but here's what I would guess:

3 parts "keeping up with latest trends & techs"
1 part "self-aggrandizing"
2 parts "smarmy sense of humor"
1 part "likes to pick fights"
4 parts "80% highly critical of things widely appreciated, 20% highly appreciative of things widely criticized"
5 parts "other important people deem the site important"

Anybody wanna take a crack at this?

Dorito Nugget BITER on ebay

On December 12, 2005 I posted on this site about my friend Mike's dorito flavor nugget that he was trying to sell on ebay. That item ended with no bids.

NOW.

Five years later, it appears someone on ebay is trying to sell a dorito nugget and I have to say, the wording of the post sounds alarmingly familiar.

"Known as the diamonds of the culinary world, doritos are prized all over the world for their distinct flavor. You are bidding on a pure uncut hunk of Nacho Cheese Doritos Flavoring. This somehow escaped from the Frito Lay factory and made it's way into my wife's 1oz. snack bag of Doritos. She saved it because she had no idea what it was, I've decided it's prolly more expensive then we can afford on my salary. Fine purveyors of gourmet food like Dean and DeLuca have nothing on Frito Lay. "Shave" this over any food like truffles. It is currently wrapped in a small ziploc bag waiting for you to enjoy!"

Note the use of humor and bewilderment at this "discovery". I dunno. Something doesn't seem right. His posting style is too similar to Mike's. These kind of flavor nuggets seem like a one in a million type deal.

Here's what I think happened - this guy, trying to make a quick buck, was testing out different keyword combinations in google. In trying "doritos nugget", he saw my post come up first in the google results.

"EUREKA!", he thought. "This is my ticket to fame, money, and limitless power." He then proceeded to research how to artificially pack dorito flavor powder into balls and manufactured one in a suspiciously familiar size and shape and posted it on ebay for sale. Using a combination of viral marketing and style biting, he scored the right google page rank and was able to sucker a few poor souls into bidding on it.

What do you guys think? A coincidence or conspiracy?

Soapbox, weird weather, blog identity

Some good news afoot with the music space Brendan and I have been working on for the past year and a half! We have found a really amazing space in Humboldt Park. In the next couple of weeks we will be rolling out evening music rehearsals. In addition we will be trying to work on some side recording projects and collaborations with musicians we know in Chicago during off hours. It's gonna be a lot of fun.

Weather has been crazy. 80 degree weather in April in Chicago is a dangerous thing - it feels great but there is almost always a guarantee that cold weather will return before June. Maybe even snow? Chicago definitely tries to make the most of a good day even if it is sporadic.

This website feels like it has been around forever! I think I registered it in 2003 but it feels like I did it even before that. It's a weird type of site that harks back to the days when people didn't have Facebook or Tumblr, or even Livejournal and people put together ramshackle websites just for fuck's sake and because it was fun to see how many hits from Australia you'd get.

All logic tells me to shut this thing down. I constantly have the urge to destroy this site but by now it feels like an old friend I need to help out. I think it helps me out too, because it still feels right to post here when I need to work out ideas or think aloud. I'm not sure I could do that anywhere else.

Most importantly, I feel like I know who the audience is for this, my friends and family. I am happy and humbled to those that read any of my posts. Thanks ya'll.

Swoon Method

This is a real rock band, with live humanoids playing instruments. I'll be sitting in on drums with my buddy Drew (who will be playing bass) at their CD Release party:

Date:
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Time:
8:00pm - 11:00pm
Location:
FUNK GROOVE LOUNGE
Street:
5 W. Division
City/Town:
Chicago, IL

OI! OI! OI! OI! OI! OI! OI! OI!

also sounds like the venue Quennect 4 is getting some heat from the city of Chicago to become "legit". I am rooting for these guys since the city has been a "litigious larry" towards small venues, making it almost impossible for them to open or stay open. Help them become legit!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jejuly/quennect4-gallery

Capilene

I used to hate the cold, until I bought a pair of Capilene 4 long johns. Now strolling outside in 5 degree weather is like strolling down a Miami beach!

thesixtyone.com

http://www.thesixtyone.com

The Sixty One is a new music discovery site that has an intuitive interface for browsing through artists quickly. It kind of reminds me of Pandora but a bit more open and feature rich if you want to learn more about an artist. I haven't explored how easy it is for an artist to submit their own music but this is a site definitely to keep an eye on. The site draws you in fairly quickly and the full size graphics w/ overlayed text makes it feel like an album cover of sorts.

The experience reminds me of walking up to a listening station in a local record shop, putting on headphones, and skipping around to the various selections while reading and looking at the artwork. I've found a lot of good music that way.

Shadow's Technophobia

Interesting journal entry by DJ Shadow re: Internet's impact on music. In short, sounds like he feels like the internet is trying to take away his choice to release music as a paid product, criticizing the social pressure to release music as free.

I never really thought about it like that, 'cause I never saw the internet like TV (as Shadow compares it). I don't buy the argument that the internet is a mind numbing force that homogenizes those that it touches - although I do think there are new hypersocial forces emerging whose effects no one really understands yet.

Between the Folds

Caught the tail end of this awesome documentary on origami, highlights include bits on origami protein folding and the French avante garde origamists(?) Le Crimp.

http://www.greenfusefilms.com