January 25, 2017

Music discovery and 19 bands I have found on Bandcamp in the last 12 months

To start this post, let me add to my Bandcamp love and promotion with some exerpts from their 2016 annual report released today:

...Every aspect of Bandcamp’s business was up in 2016. Digital album sales grew 20%, tracks 23%, and merch 34%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl, which was up 48%, and further boosted by CDs (up 14%) and cassettes (up 58%)...Hundreds of thousands of artists joined Bandcamp in 2016, more than 2,000 independent labels came on board...Fans have now paid artists nearly $200 million using Bandcamp, and they buy a record every three seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The record business overall did not fare as well. According to Nielsen, it grew 3% in the U.S. in 2016, while sales of digital albums fell 20%, tracks were down 25%, and physical albums dropped 14%. These declines are not at all surprising given the industry-wide push toward subscription music rental offerings... (which pose) some serious problems for fans, labels, and music as an art form.

As more people subscribe to music rental services, the already paltry rates paid to artists are going down (and no, artists don’t necessarily make it up in volume). But it’s not only artists who are struggling...

Longer term, if subscription music rental can’t work as a standalone business, then it will only exist as a service offered by corporate behemoths to draw customers into the parts of their businesses where they do make money, like selling phones, service plans, or merchandise. And when the distribution of an entire art form is controlled by just two or three nation-state-sized companies, artists and labels will have even less leverage than they do now to set fair rates, the music promoted to fans will be controlled by a small handful of gatekeepers, and more and more artists will be hit with the one-two punch of lower rates and less exposure. The net effect for music as a whole is worrisome.

I continue to encourage you to either (1) stop your subscriptions to Spotify, Apple Music, etc. or (2) use those streaming services only to supplement the albums you buy directly from artists, whether physical or digital. Bandcamp is often one of the best and simplest methods of supporting artists in that way.

As I have mentioned before, Bandcamp also makes it so easy to discover great new music. In the first couple weeks of the new year I subscribed to a label, which will give me advance downloads of all the music they release this year, and I bought a label's entire back catalog of music.


My discovery of new music is at insane levels right now. I decided to analyze my year-end best-of lists from the last 10 years and the percentage of the bands that were "new" in each list. (New = bands I discovered that calendar year that released their first full-length within 3 years of my hearing them for the first time. Most of the musicians that make up the large majority of my best-of lists are ones I have been following for 5-30 years.)

2007- 12% new (3 of top 25)
2008- 20% (4 of top 20)
2009- 10% (2 of top 20)
2010- 15% new (3 of top 20)
2011- 5% new (1 of top 20)
2012- 10% new(2 of top 20)
2013- 20% new (4 of top 20)
2014- 15% new (3 of top 20)
2015- 40% new (8 of top 20)
2016- 40% new (12 of top 30)

A jump from an average percent of 12% new artists per year to 40% in 2015 is crazy! I am not sure if I am just paying closer attention or what other reasons there are to explain my discovery of new musicians over the last couple years. Maybe my move to Europe had something to do with it? But I know Bandcamp has enabled me to hear more bands from more parts of the world than ever before (that don't rely on a record label for distribution).

Here is a list of 19 bands and artists I have discovered in the last calendar year, and I wonder how many I would know of if not for Bandcamp. My only complaint about Bandcamp at this point is the inability to make playlists. Because if I could, that is what this would be. Instead I'll provide individual links to my favorite song from each release. (I still make mixes with the length of a CD in mind--80 minutes, so if you were to download all these songs they would burn onto a single disc.)


I discovered Crying in December and they ended up with my #1 album of 2016. I am seeing them in concert with the Hotelier in Zurich in two weeks!

White Lung has been around longer than most of the bands here, but I didn't know about them until last summer.


Paper Wounds is from St. Petersburg, Russia and they have put out two EP's, one of which is a terrific 7" record I got a couple weeks back. They were part of the bulk discography I bought from the German label Life is a Funny Thing.

Snail Mail was an artist of the day from Bandcamp themselves, and released their debut EP in 2016.


Camp Cope released their debut album last year and are from Australia.

Mint Green is another Bandcamp artist of the day from 2016 who released their debut EP last year.


Glacier Veins is from Portland and released their debut EP in 2016.


Box and the Twins is from Germany and this is their debut album, a 2016 release.


For Everest has been releasing EPs since 2013 but their debut album was released in 2016.


Overwatcher is from Nashville and have released two EPs, one each in 2015 and 2016. I discovered them because of Angela Wooten's (Bandit) vocals on this track.


Foxwound is out of Atlanta and their 2016 debut made my top 10 albums of 2016.


Sinai Vessel's debut album is out Friday and it was my first download from my annual subscription to Tiny Engines.


We Love You has released a bunch of singles and EPs over the last two years; a part of the Life is a Funny Thing batch purchased download.


Secoué released their debut EP in 2016 and another one from the Life is a Funny Thing batch purchased download.


Причал is a Russian band I know almost nothing about and from the Life is a Funny Thing batch purchased download.


Факел is another Russian band I know almost nothing about and from the Life is a Funny Thing batch purchased download.


Hollow Jan is the first Korean band I have ever heard and this amazing song is the only one they have on Bandcamp, released on October 1, 2016. Also from the Life is a Funny Thing batch purchased download.


The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die has been around 5 years or so, but I discovered them almost a year ago when I saw them open for mewithoutYou in Luzern, Switerland (concert review from February 1, 2016).


I discovered Julien Baker almost exactly a year ago, and her debut album was a late edition to my favorite albums of 2015. This is a new song she released a couple weeks ago and hit Bandcamp before any other site.

If you've actually read all the way down to the bottom of this post, you might be interested in checking out my Bandcamp collection.

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