Bandcamp has given musicians a much-needed platform to upload their work how and when they want it, for how much they want to sell it. And while this means that your shitty dungeon metal solo project can sell half formed demos at $11 it also has given some power back to musicians in an age of piracy and terrible business deals. It’s a valuable service for music, convenient and, unlike Soundcloud, artists actually have a shot of making a little bit of money for their work. But first and foremost, it’s a business. And like many businesses in times of societal upheaval, they use their platform to speak out. So, Bandcamp has reacted to the current political and social climate by donating the entirety of its revenue this Friday to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a move that has of course made the more vocal of our community shit their pants in confusion.
In recent days, I’ve seen musicians speak out against Bandcamp for using their platform for political reasons. In a sense, I understand that the artists didn’t have any input into this decision. There are those out there whom don’t want their creations used for any kind of political motivation, regardless of where that motivation originated. And then of course there are the kinds of people who were ready to march on Washington because some guy wouldn’t bake a cake for a gay wedding, citing that businesses should be allowed freedom of speech and the freedom to use their own code of ethics and morals to run a business. These people are oddly against that thought now that it’s “the opposition” exercising the freedoms they were invoking because they were afraid of a gay cake. I don’t think I need to point out the irony here, mostly because trying to explain irony to someone who thinks a cake will somehow force them to engage in same sex relations is pointless since that person doesn’t read anyway.
Here’s the thing though: I’m not going to take sides here because we’re already at a point where this country is more divided than ass cheeks and it’s not my place to tell you how you should feel about how your art is represented. I’m here to offer some clarity into the situation and a solution. Obviously this is directed at the metal and punk communities, but it applies to any genre. The sooner we realize that both the left AND the right are full of overreacting and overly emotional children, the sooner we can come together as a nation and tell them to shut the fuck up.
Bands have the tendency to utilize social media to project a persona or the perception of ethics. But I wonder if it stops on the screen, and doesn’t extend into real life. I saw so many bands complaining about Bandcamp’s decision that I came to the conclusion that it was mostly done for effect, in their own echo chambers, where they can be told that they’re right, brave, handsome or whatever lies their mothers tell them. But how many of them would actually do something? A lot of these are the same people who bitch about the left protesting
cross the world yet somehow are missing the fact that they’re just as free to do the same. How? It’s easy.
Delete your bandcamp page.
If you truly value your personal integrity so much that you have the need to publicly disparage the company who gives you a platform to spread your music, then you should do the honorable thing and take your site down. If your ethics are so important to you, then this is the perfect chance to prove it to the world. Show us that your music means more to you than the exposure and money Bandcamp can provide, that your personal integrity is as strong as how you feel your music is, and what it represents. Otherwise everything you’re saying is a bunch of shit-scented hot air meant to construct a persona which fades after the controversy is over. It makes you a fraud, the same as the kind of people who boycott Starbucks because the cup didn’t depict Jesus having a snowball fight on it, but then are back buying lattes two weeks later because “mommy needs her fix.”
At the very least you can set your download costs so high that no one will purchase it or turn them off for the day. This is a good option for those who want to appear virtuous, but also don’t want to lose Bandcamp as a platform because while they give a fuck about reacting to the decision to donate to the ACLU they don’t give THAT much of a fuck, but hope that you (the fans) see it and think they’re really sticking it to the organization. While it’s not exactly lying, it’s certainly a tall tale—like how you really expected to bring in sales of your rehearsal demo that has no vocals that you’re shilling for $7.
This is your chance to use your music in a meaningful way, to vote with your creation. We seem to have the tendency to denounce protests when they’re done on the side we disagree with but forget that we all have the right to civil disobedience and personal choice/responsibility. Here’s your chance, buds. For every one of you who posted some meme about how stupid “snowflakes” were to delete Uber, here’s your chance to stick it to the other side instead of just complaining and then doing nothing. Bandcamp won’t miss the one sale you might have had Friday, but maybe you can end your day with the deep sleep of self-satisfaction because you stood up for what you believed in and made a sacrifice. And for that I honestly salute you, because even if I don’t agree with you, you have demonstrated that you are willing to protect your creation and its integrity at any costs. But if you’re just going to bitch and sit back and do nothing then please do us a favor and just don’t. We already suffer through enough dishonest shit winds every time we turn on the news.