Direct-to-fan platform Bandcamp has shared its 2017 year-in-review, with some solid statistics for independent performers. Digital album sales rose 16% and digital track sales increased 33%. Physical sales also jumped across all formats: up 54% for vinyl, 18% for CDs, and 41% for cassettes. More than 600,000 artists have made a sale through Bandcamp’s service. Revenue from the 3,500 labels on Bandcamp increased 73%.
Bandcamp’s results show a markedly different path than the overall music industry. RIAA and Nielsen data have posted sharp declines for both physical formats and digital downloads in the United States. The company had some sharp words for the state of the music industry:
…allowing the distribution of an entire art form to be controlled by so few has troubling implications, and those continued to play out in 2017. The streaming giants exert tremendous influence over what music gets heard, and must primarily serve their most important supplier, the major labels. The result is that independent labels, and especially independent artists, are far less likely to be discovered on those platforms.
The road has been challenging for indies, but Bandcamp isn’t the only organization looking to provide more options. Merlin’s 2017 member survey anticipated that digital revenue would continue to grow for indies. Streaming has increased to the majority share of digital for indies.