Music as a craft, as a cottage industry? This may well be the future for many of us in the profession. In my own career, which started in the late 1980s, the type of music I play has gone from subculture to the “alternative” wing of the mainstream and now back, it seems, to subculture. Spotify is built for an economy of scale: it needs and wants to occupy all of everyone’s listening time. My music and the milieu it is part of was never intended for that environment – I would worry about anyone who listened to nothing else! Are we, as Brian Wilson sang, just not made for these times?
Bandcamp’s counterexample suggests that the problem I and many musicians in my situation face isn’t about the digital age per se. It is possible to build a different kind of environment for music online, one that subcultures can recognize as their own and maybe even use to thrive. Or heal, at least, while we dream up new ways to connect with one another in the 21st century.
Damon Krukowski takes a look at the differences between Bandcamp’s music marketplace with Spotify’s audio-first strategy.