Earlier this week, Bandcamp unveiled Bandcamp Live, its own ticketed live stream platform for virtual concerts. Although it is clearly a means to fill the economic void left by the lack of concerts due to the pandemic, it’s also a clear signal of how Bandcamp believes that the potential of virtual shows has now been brought to light and, even in a post-Covid-19 world, live streams will be part of the daily life of artists and labels. To firsthand test Bandcamp Live and evaluate its pros and cons, on Thursday I grabbed a ticked for Keeno‘s online album launch.
As you can see from the picture, the service highly resembles pretty much in every way YouTube, Twitch and every other video platform. Despite these two, especially Twitch, it faithfully follows Bandcamp’s clean design, minimizing the visual elements on the screen. Is this a plus? Absolutely yes in my opinion. I’m honestly tired of the insane amount of notification I have to deal with while watching content on Facebook or Twitch. As expected, the platform features a chat (which is optional) where artists or designated moderators can interact with the audience. In line with the overall interface, also the chat functions are strictly essential and, as far as I have seen, besides texted messages and emoji only shows purchases made in the merch table. The chat is not available while rewatching the show (the recording is available only for 24h hours).
The merch table is available right beneath the streaming window and definitely represents the highlight of Bandcamp Live. As you can see in the picture, Keeno’s brand new album I Live, I Learn was available for pre-order exactly below the actual stream, removing any kind of friction between the fans and the possibility to purchase the LP in every moment of the show. It’s easy to understand how this feature will become extremely handy in conjunction with EPs and album launches and in combination with Bandcamp Fridays. In this regard, Bandcamp offers the very interesting option of bundling a digital release with the purchase of a live stream ticket. This way, as stated on the support page, you could stream an album launch party and include the album in the ticket price. While by default, the merch table will feature eight of your recent releases, the real potential of this feature can be exploited by picking the most pertinent music or merch for each event. Even though I’m aware of the remarkable convenience of tips and donations, personally I love to attend a show in a space, even a virtual one, where I’m surrounded by the artists’ works and where I have the chance to support them by directly buying their art.
Bandcamp Live might not be anything revolutionary (you still need to use OBS or other broadcasting software), but represents a solid alternative for all the artists that want to capitalize on their audience on the platform without creating the umpteenth account on the umpteenth service. With this announcement, Bandcamp moves a step into the direction taken by some new generation companies which aim to be all-in-one destinations for independent artists, featuring both social, streaming and revenue sources in a single ecosystem. At the moment Bandcamp Live is not available to every artist account. If you’re interested in benefit from this new feature, you can visit this page. The service will remain free until March 31st, 2021 and after that, Bandcamp will take a 10% fee.