Bandcamp Acquired By Epic Games, The Video Game Company Behind Fortnite

Bandcamp Acquired By Epic Games, The Video Game Company Behind Fortnite

Ever since its founding in 2008, the sales, streaming, and editorial platform Bandcamp has built a reputation as a rare artist-friendly business within the music industry. That reputation intensified at the start of the pandemic with the launch of Bandcamp Fridays, the initiative in which Bandcamp waives its share of sales on the first Friday of the month. It will be interesting to see how that reputation evolves now that Bandcamp has been acquired by the company behind the smash hit Fortnite and the development platform Unreal Engine.

In a letter posted to Bandcamp’s website, co-founder and CEO Ethan Diamond has announced that Bandcamp is “joining” the video game developer and publisher Epic Games. There is no mention of a sale price or any details of the arrangement, but in his message, Diamond asserts that Bandcamp will continue to operate as ever. He says the company has turned down previous corporate suitors but believes Epic is aligned with Bandcamp’s vision and values. He mentions Epic’s fight for “a fair and open Internet” — probably related to CEO Tim Sweeney’s protracted legal battle against Apple. As musician and anti-Spotify activist Damon Krukowski points out (as does commenter E2E4), the Chinese corporation Tencent, which owns 40% of Epic, also owns minority stakes in Spotify and two of the three major labels, Warner and Universal. So Bandcamp is now at least loosely enmeshed with the same corporate structure it has always proudly stood against.

Here’s the full text of Diamond’s announcement:

I’m excited to announce that Bandcamp is joining Epic Games, who you may know as the makers of Fortnite and Unreal Engine, and champions for a fair and open Internet.

Bandcamp will keep operating as a standalone marketplace and music community, and I will continue to lead our team. The products and services you depend on aren’t going anywhere, we’ll continue to build Bandcamp around our artists-first revenue model (where artists net an average of 82% of every sale), you’ll still have the same control over how you offer your music, Bandcamp Fridays will continue as planned, and the Daily will keep highlighting the diverse, amazing music on the site. However, behind the scenes we’re working with Epic to expand internationally and push development forward across Bandcamp, from basics like our album pages, mobile apps, merch tools, payment system, and search and discovery features, to newer initiatives like our vinyl pressing and live streaming services.

Since our founding in 2008, we’ve been motivated by the pursuit of our mission, which is to help spread the healing power of music by building a community where artists thrive through the direct support of their fans. That simple idea has worked well, with payments to artists and labels closing in on $1 billion USD. And while over the years we’ve heard from other companies who wanted us to join them, we’ve always felt that doing so would only be exciting if they strongly believed in our mission, were aligned with our values, and not only wanted to see Bandcamp continue, but also wanted to provide the resources to bring a lot more benefit to the artists, labels, and fans who use the site. Epic ticks all those boxes. We share a vision of building the most open, artist-friendly ecosystem in the world, and together we’ll be able to create even more opportunities for artists to be compensated fairly for their work.

Whether you joined Bandcamp recently or have been with us since the beginning 14 years ago, thank you for being a part of this incredible community, and we look forward to serving you for many years to come!

Ethan Diamond
Bandcamp co-founder and CEO

In 2018, Epic Games launched its own video game storefront as a competitor to Steam, the industry leader. Last year they acquired Harmonix, the video game company behind the Rock Band series. Clearly this is all leading to an immersive RPG in which users perform Alex G songs and can then purchase their own performances as NFTs.

UPDATE: Bandcamp Daily editor Edward J. Keyes writes that the company’s editorial staff is expecting to carry on:

Hi everyone. I just want to reassure you: Bandcamp Daily is not going anywhere. Bandcamp Daily’s editorial staff isn’t going anywhere. Bandcamp Daily’s writing staff isn’t going anywhere. We’re going to keep doing what we do, and we’re looking forward to doing it.

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