Epic Games has announced that it intends to acquire Bandcamp, an independent music distribution platform that's allowed musicians to build more reliable revenue streams in the world of digital distribution.
In a blog post, Bandcamp CEO and co-founder Ethan Diamond said that Epic Games will offer resources to "bring a lot more benefit to the artists, labels, and fans who use the site." Bandcamp has built a following in the music world for offering artists an average of 82 percent of revenue off of every sale, a much higher percentage than what musicians see on other digital distribution and streaming platforms.
The company also hosts regular "Bandcamp Fridays" where artists can collect 100 percent of revenue on all sales.
Diamond states that Bandcamp will be continuing normal operations while working with Epic Games to expand internationally and build out new services on its platform, including vinyl pressing and livestreaming tech.
The bigger question you may be asking is--why is Epic Games buying up a music business? You might recall that the company recently purchased Harmonix, the game studio known for developing interactive audio experiences like Rock Band and Fuser.
That acquisition strongly revolved around the idea that Harmonix would be working on metaverse-style concerts like the Travis Scott Fortnite performance. It's not unreasonable to assume that Epic wants to use Bandcamp's technology to synergize sales for whatever experiences Harmonix is cooking up, and utilizing Bandcamp's artist-first revenue model would be a reliable way to attract the attention of musical talent it needs to seriously sell this arm of the metaverse.
What's savvy about this move is that most of Epic Games' competition isn't looking too hard at music culture that's popular with younger users. (God I felt old writing that.) Some other games have licensed musical starts for in-game promotions, but there's not a lot of push behind becoming a music distribution platform.
And it's also worth remembering the Unreal Engine side of the business could benefit from this tech too. Musicians are often experimenting with 3D technology for music videos or other artistic expansions of their work--bringing these businesses close together could be good for building a new base of users for Unreal Engine.
That's all a very positive and rosy look at this acquisition, so let's pop off the gold-rimmed eyeglasses for a moment. It is still concerning that the speed and pace of game industry acquisitions could have a stifling impact on competition. There are also reasons for independent artists that relied on Bandcamp to be nervous that their paltry sales revenue could make them a lower priority for the platform.
If Bandcamp's business strategy shifts five or ten years down the line, said artists could be left on the side of the road, hauling gear while looking to bum a ride.