Bandcamp Embraces Pirate Googlers, Turns Them Into Customers

from the it's-not-so-hard-to-compete dept

A common complaint from the legacy movie and music industries is that when people Google things like “watch movies online,” unauthorized sources rank higher than legitimate ones (for some crazy reason, it seems like people prefer comprehensive libraries of unrestricted links over stale selections of geoblocked videos). Moreover, they complain about autocomplete terms like “torrent,” completely missing the fact that those are caused by people searching that exact thing, not the other way around.

So it’s great to see the people at Bandcamp doing the exact opposite and celebrating the prevalence of those dirty pirate keywords. They looked at their own analytics and noticed a lot of sales being generated by search terms that would send your average RIAA lobbyist running to Congress:

For example, just this morning someone paid $10 for an album after Googling “lelia broussard torrent.” A bit later, a fan plunked down $17 after searching for “murder by death, skeletons in the closet, mediafire.” Then a $15 sale came in from the search “maimouna youssef the blooming hulkshare.” Then a fan made a $12 purchase after clicking a link on music torrent tracker What.CD. Then someone spent $10 after following a link on The Pirate Bay, next to the plea “They sell their album as a download on their website. You can even choose your format (mp3, ogg, flac, etc). Cmon, support this awesome band!”

That last part is another example of how Mike described Louis CK’s recent experiment: be polite, be awesome and be human. CK’s video was also available on the Pirate Bay, and as someone here pointed out, it spurred several users to comment with links and encourage people to buy, while others offered explanations for their decision to use the torrent. Though there can be no doubt that in both cases some “hardcore” pirates just didn’t give a damn, there are far more people who just want to be polite, awesome and human and support the artists who do the same.

Bandcamp recognizes that people who search for torrents and file locker links are, at the core, just fans looking to get some new music. By focusing on serving those fans, they don’t need to worry about illegitimate sources — after all, in most cases they already provide a superior option:

We see these sales as proof that Bandcamp can effectively compete with filesharing and other free distribution platforms by a) giving fans a clear, easy way to directly support the artist, and b) offering them a better user experience. Our favorite recent example of this was an $8 sale that started with the search ?milosh flac -torrent.? So here was a fan looking for a Milosh record, wanted a high quality flac, but didn?t want to have to sift through a bunch of torrent sites. And that led them right to Bandcamp, and right to putting money in the artist?s pocket. Beautiful.

Beautiful indeed. When you tear down walls instead of constantly building new ones you can actually turn search terms like “torrent” to your advantage, rather than resorting to SEO-by-lawsuit. Bandcamp is yet more proof that you can “compete with free,” if you give people an attractive alternative.

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Companies: bandcamp

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Comments on “Bandcamp Embraces Pirate Googlers, Turns Them Into Customers”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh please, we’ve seen how they go when they get on a weeds like AJ on the Kopimism article. Just have fun with them, post a few insightful but obvious thoughts, crush their pot-driven delusions and we can all be happy.

While I do think it’s hard to find anything to discredit this I don’t dare to underestimate the trolls after I read one saying that libraries rip off the creators.

Loki says:

Re: Re:

Well, I just helped feed a few starving artists. Bought several albums at $15 a pop. Didn’t even need to, they were all name your own price, and I could have just paid them all a buck. But a couple of them have been doing some really cool stuff (and/or helping others do some really cool stuff) on Youtube.

I like the setup from a business point, but there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to search artists.

I wonder how long before the major labels find a way to shut it down or buy into it.

PopeHilarius (profile) says:

“Bandcamp can effectively compete with filesharing and other free distribution platforms by a) giving fans a clear, easy way to directly support the artist,”

See there’s your problem right there. If fans can directly support the artist, it takes money away from hardworking gatekeepers like media conglomerates. Directly supporting an artist is the same as stealing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

>See there’s your problem right there. If fans can directly support the artist, it takes money away from hardworking gatekeepers like media conglomerates. Directly supporting an artist is the same as stealing.

You know, that would be funnier, if it weren’t so insanely accurate. The big record companies don’t care a whit for the artist themselves, only for how much money they can make for them. Hence, something like bandcamp, where the money goes straight to the artist and bypasses the big gatekeepers entirely, is ‘taking money away from them’, and therefore ‘stealing’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They should be directly supporting the person who funded the making of the movie. Which individual do you directly support for a movie? The Producer? The actor/actress playing the leading role? The Director? Your favorite character actor who makes a cameo? The problem is that the studios are the ones who funded making some of these movies, but many people on this site are so jaded that they would never pay for content that came from a movie studio, so instead they steal it. I’m not accusing you of being one of these people, just making an informed observation based on the comments of others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s easy to just say “go to kickstarter” when you aren’t the one making a movie…unless you want to be a douchebag and NOT pay any of the great people working on your movie, you are gonna need at LEAST 50k, probably less if you already have all the equipment and software you need. And even that number is assuming you won’t need a lot of actors, and can do all the video editing yourself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Derp. Forgot to actually include the point I was trying to make. Haha.

The point I was trying to make is that it’s not easy to raise that kind of money in 90 days, especially when anything but a VERY small movie is going to cost a lot more than 50k. Kickstarter is all or nothing with a RIDICULOUS time limit for some projects, which is what makes it unnecessarily hard. That’s why I like a LOT better. No forced time limits, and the project owner gets the money immediately. Not to mention that the project can continue to raise money if additional funds are needed.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I actually don’t think people are as reluctant to give money to ANY studio as you fear. Many of those sales on Bandcamp are going to record labels that operate through the site – but they are labels that are doing things right, connecting with their fans, and not placing silly arbitrary restrictions on their artists’ work. If a film studio operated in a similarly pro-fan fashion, even the most anti-industry among us would have no problem supporting them.

@Paul regarding what you said earlier – i don’t think it’s actually that crazy or wrong of him to have brought up movies instead of music – I did actually talk about the film/TV industries at the beginning of the post and use them as a counterexample to Bandcamp

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Funny how you insist on changing the subject because you can’t address the actual point being discussed (in this case, responding to points about music by shoehorning in the movie industry). Try sticking to the actual point being discussed.

“many people on this site are so jaded that they would never pay for content that came from a movie studio”

…and many do pay, and pay handsomely, but get branded as pirates when they point out how the industry repeatedly loses sales through its own outdated business practices.

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