Tumblr Vs. Bandcamp Vs. Etsy
I wrote about how Youtube’s new channel layout risks the niche “long-tail” channels making less money now. Let me sum up my thoughts on why that’s dangerous, and what sites like Tumblr/Yahoo have to understand about content creators.
If we can’t make a living then everything will fall apart because if painters, dancers, musicians, and directors can’t survive then they can’t make more work. No new work begets no new content, and no new content means there’s no reason for fans, spectators, or followers to revisit the site or event each day.
When I say Tumblr vs. Bandcamp I’m referring to a possible future, not a current event. Tumblr and Bandcamp are two of my favorite sites to browse, but let me explain why I feel like Tumblr needs a Bandcamp and Etsy in-house marketplace:
1.) Tumblr has to become Bandcamp faster than Bandcamp can become Tumblr.
2.) Tumblr needs an easy store for their content creators to publish to and their community to buy from. This will also increase overall sales for creators because less clicks or obstacles usually result in higher sales. Tumblr only makes $12 million a year, but they could easily sustain their company if they opened up a marketplace like this. I want Tumblr to sustain just like I want the content creators and community to. It’s how things need to be if they’re to work, be fun, and grow.
3.) Youtube, Etsy, and Ebay are in a sense “too big to fail”. Not big in terms of size, but big in terms of power - the power of the diehard and dependent ecosystem.
Tumblr could just simply partner with Bandcamp and Etsy like they have with Soundcloud, so that purchasing goods is more streamlined (imagine if below a blog post there was a “BUY NOW” link just below the picture - and the link KEPT YOU ON TUMBLR without kicking you to another page). Tumblr gets a finder’s fee, Etsy gets more sales, the content creator makes a living, and the community has a better user-experience. That seems like the ultimate goal, and the best for everyone. Right now it’s confusing and too fragmented.
To be fair, the way it works right now is fine - the idea that one site hosts the content (Soundcloud), another site acts as the store (Bandcamp), and another site acts as the social network (Tumblr). But if Bandcamp opens up as a social network tomorrow, then my point #1 above becomes a harsh reality.
All My Music Is Now Free On Bandcamp
After getting a heartwarming message, a payment of $0.50 from a struggling fan, and some awesome email exchanges, I have now decided to make all my music available for free on Bandcamp. Maybe you’re trying to learn music composition, can’t afford it, or this is your first taste in orchestra music. I never wanted to create a paywall or lock people out.
You now have the option to download every piece of mine for free or name your own price. The songs are still available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc. incase you prefer traditional routes.
Here’s all 9 CDs Free on Bandcamp:
Anonymous asked: You know how you said no one bought Nemeses? Well, that was one of your songs that I ripped off your Bandcamp page. You said you could name your own price and I named mine at $0. I'm sorry :( I'm gonna go buy it now
This is totally what I was afraid of. Totally didn’t want to guilt trip anyone.
When I do the “Name Your Own Price” it’s totally on me, and there’s nothing wrong with you getting it for $0. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with you stealing it, which I’ve been pretty open and honest about. It’s just that, as Jonathan Coulton said, the paid downloads subsidize the freeloaders.
So you may be thinking, why shouldn’t I just steal the song and have someone else subsidize it so Walt can survive somehow. Well, that’s totally OK. That’s what the subway guitar player is basically saying, or the take-a-penny-give-a-penny grocery store jar is saying. It’s even what the waitress at your local coffee shop is saying: “you don’t have to tip me and I’ll still serve you, but I have to make this money from somewhere or I die.” So it’s your call, and I’m cool either way with how you pay me, or share my music, or hate me, or download it for free without sharing it.
I’ll still be here rocking out for you. And I’ll still be your friend. It’s totally cool.
I do the “Name Your Own Price” sometimes thinking that it will help with passing it around or ironically increasing purchases (or averaging payments higher than $1).
But the main point, that you can’t plan it, is still there - the idea that some things work out and some weeks don’t. Some pieces get lots of shares and no purchases, and others get few shares but high purchases.
Just like the paid supporters offset the freeloaders, my $500 week subsidize the $10 weeks. The trick is just to not have four $10 weeks in a row, or else the well dries up. There are some weeks I’m scared because I’m depending on a “hit” week to make up for a song that was requested but didn’t sell. It’s like gambling but with music arrangement choices and hoping everything works in the end. It’s crazy haha.
There’s no way of knowing what will happen each week, and there’s no way of knowing which model works best: freemium, $1, name your own price, singles vs. CDs, itunes vs amazon, Madeon vs. Katy Perry, full orchestra vs. piano concerto, etc.
These decisions drive me both clinically insane, but somehow keep me in check, too.
Donations vs. Buying
I’ve made $29 in donations today, which is more than I’ve made in any single day over the past 6 years on my music, and it’s not even 3pm yet. Out of nowhere this week people are mentioning my music (over 100 arrangements yay!), rebogging it, buying it, and donating.
I’m a huge advocate for Creative Commons and Podsafe Music, but I can’t just give this music away for free AND sell it at the same time because I don’t own the original publishing for that. In fact, a large cut of my $1 sales go to iTunes, Bandcamp, and the original artist.
So now I’m thinking 3 options:
1.) Release the music for free and sell merchandise? I can’t tour, so I’m really dependent on donations, purchases, and whatever else there is. BTW selling sheet music is possible, but getting the rights takes forever and is really expensive. I started a kickstarter a few months ago, but it went nowhere.
3.) Actually… I’m just a guy. I seriously have no idea what I’m doing.
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