Bandcamp vs. Spotify: Which is Better?

This one is a no-brainer for underground bands: bandcamp offers the best opportunity to create revenue by selling music and merch directly to your fans.  The fan profile feature also adds a social media aspect to the site, allowing users to browse each other’s collections and find new tunes.  And with 2020’s Bandcamp Fridays on the first Friday of each month — yep, bandcamp announced last week that they would extend the promotion for the rest of the year — the platform puts its money where its mouth is in terms of supporting artists.

Meanwhile, Spotify does…. Not too much.  I remember getting a few emails at the beginning of the pandemic about how Spotify could help me crowdfund from my fanbase.  Ummmmmmm, thanks I guess?  As of 2019, Soundcharts Blog reported that Spotify pays $0.0318 cents per stream — so it would take about 315 streams to earn a dollar.  Kind of a joke when my band has barely that many Facebook likes…

But nonetheless, bands do seem to care about Spotify.  I had been compiling a 2020 coverage playlist for the blog on my personal Spotify profile, but I fell off the wagon in early May.  The playlist only had 11 followers at the time — was this “helping” bands?  Did anyone even care?

Bored and curious last week, I decided to ask Alternative Control’s Twitter followers how they felt about it.  I was surprised when most people responded that I should update the playlist because Spotify did matter to bands.

All righty then!  I went back through all the blog posts after Duncan Evans’ review of Green Carnation, which is where I had left off, and we had written about 48 bands since then.  Most turned out to have music on Spotify; I probably ended up adding 45 bands to the playlist, dragging the newer ones to the top. 

There is a lot of variety on the updated playlist: many subgenres of metal, as well as the occasional folk or R&B song. Highlights include Sorcerer, Old Blood, Crystal Spiders….. But how can I even pick highlights? The whole thing is “highlight” that clocks in at 6 hours and 53 minutes, with 85 songs in total.

My own bands are on Spotify, despite my grumblings about the platform; while we may never make any money from it, it does make our music widely available and it’s fun to see where listeners are in the world.  I have to admit that Spotify made my day when I saw that Owl Maker had listeners in New Zealand.

So I guess if you want to help bands make $0.00318 cents or something, follow Alternative Control’s 2020 playlist and listen to it.  William Jennings from Ghost:hello put together this playlist recently — stoner metal/rock fans, check that one out as well.

Indeed, the only thing Spotify has going for it over bandcamp is the ability to create a playlist. Hopefully bandcamp will add this feature to its website and app.

Both platforms allow you to stream music for free; although bandcamp allows bands to limit free streams, most do not. So if you really want to support bands in a tangible and immediate way, and you have the means to do so, buy their music on a platform like bandcamp.  Speaking of which, what’s on your wishlist for the August 7th Bandcamp Friday??  Leave a comment!

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