The Future of Bandcamp Fridays

[Note–after reviewing my accounting, I realized I double-counted some tip money as also a private lesson payment, so I’ve adjusted numbers down $50.  That caused some minor changes in my calculations.  Those should be updated and correct now.  —TPP, 18 December 2020]

Regular readers will know that since March 2020, Bandcamp has been waiving its commission on sales through its platform on the first Friday of each month.  The company even dedicated a webpage to answering the burning question “Is it Bandcamp Friday?

The promotion has been a real boon for musicians—myself included—who have seen a major reduction in revenue from gigs, lessons, merch sales, and other sources of income.  I just ran the numbers, and I grossed around $4976.18 this year from lessons, gigs (including a play I was in), merchandise sales, streaming payments (only $10.15—and it took five years to accumulate that much!), and Bandcamp sales (around $159.03 after payment processing fees and Bandcamp’s commission from purchases not made on Bandcamp Fridays).  That’s compared to roughly $9099 grossed last year from the same sources, so about 54.69% of the revenue in 2020 vs. 2019.  My lesson revenue fell to 45.34% of its value in 2019, from $7465 to $3385 (but I also only drove 1941 miles for lessons in 2020, versus just over 6000 miles for lessons in 2019).

Note that those figures do not include ASCAP royalties payments ($235.61 as of the time of this writing for FY2020), as I calculate them separately when filing taxes (yep, I claim everything on my tax returns, which is painful), but those royalty payments reflect live performances largely from 2019, so 2021’s royalty payments will be very low.

That’s way better than I anticipated, and it’s due in part to the support of readers and listeners like you.  Music sales accounted for a small fraction of revenue this year (about 3.15%), but the outpouring of support during the worst of The Age of The Virus meant a great deal to me and other musicians, at a time when we were really struggling.  As I noted in another post, playing gigs and teaching private lessons accounted for “nearly 17% of my gross income for the year [2019].”  It’s not just a hobby or passion for me—it’s a major supplement to my main teaching income, most of which goes directly into retirement savings.  Teaching pays the bills and keeps the lights on; music puts tires on the car and lets me eat a steak now and then.

So, that’s all to say that I was thrilled to see Bandcamp will be continuing Bandcamp Fridays into 2021, the first one being on Friday, 5 February 2021.  They’ll be continuing them at least through 7 May 2021, so that’s four more days to support musicians maximally.

The impact Bandcamp has for musicians is substantial.  Here’s their breakdown:

If you’ve started to feel guilty about buying music on any day other than Bandcamp Friday, here’s something to keep in mind: on Bandcamp Fridays, an average of 93% of your money reaches the artist/label (after payment processor fees). When you make a purchase on any other day of the month (as 2.5 million of you have since March, buying an additional $145 million worth of music and merch) an average of 82% reaches the artist/label. Every day is a good day to directly support artists on Bandcamp!

Even on normal days, 82% of the money you spend on Bandcamp goes to the artists.  That’s pretty good.  For perspective, my complete complete discography is $15.75 at the moment (although you can always pay more).  If you bought it today, I’d pocket $12.92, versus $14.65 on a Bandcamp Friday.  Sure, I’d love to have that extra $1.73, but I’m not going to look a gift purchase in the mouth.

Bandcamp has long been a champion for indie musicians, and Bandcamp Fridays are a big loss-leader for them (I suspect they’ve made it up, though, with increased traffic, and people buying music shortly before and after Bandcamp Fridays).  It’s great to see them continuing the program through May of next year.

If you’d like to purchase any of my music through Bandcamp, you can do so here:  https://tjcookmusic.bandcamp.com/

Thank you again for your support, and Merry Christmas!

—TPP

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