What alternatives are there to Soundcloud? (Part 4: Bandcamp)

There were various articles last summer predicting doom and gloom for Soundcloud before they were rescued. With that in mind, I did a little research into what alternatives independent musicians have to Soundcloud.

This is part 4 of the series aimed at independent artists. Comments relate to the free version of Bandcamp: there is a Pro subscription available allowing more advanced features like uploading videos and customising your bandcamp domain name, but it costs $10 per month, beyond the budget for many small artists.

Bandcamp's welcome page

Bandcamp’s front page


Bandcamp is a well-established site for indie artists, geared up around selling downloads. Musicians can also allow listeners to stream their material, so they can decide if they will like it before they buy. Posting music here is a way of releasing material, but Bandcamp do not offer distribution services beyond their site, so this doesn’t get you onto Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify and so on: you will need to release your work through an additional distribution service if you want to get into those outlets.

Bandcamp is not a particularly suitable place for sharing rough mixes or material you’re not sure about to get feedback – listeners can’t leave comments and it may cause confusion if you post unfinished material in your store. That said, you can post tracks for free, allowing people to download for ‘£0 or more’, so that does give an option to differentiate between work in progress and finished items that you charge for. Anyone doing that would need to make sure it was well communicated, however, and there are possible reputation issues if you post work before it is really listenable.

There are some social aspects to Bandcamp, but it’s somewhat limited:  You can ‘like’ tracks via Facebook or tweet them directly from inside the site; music fans have their own pages and can follow each other as well as their favourite artists. Bandcamp encourage you to follow other fans with similar taste and check out their ‘collection’, to aid music discovery.  There’s also a music discovery page with features and which shows which albums or tracks are being bought right now, with the option to click through and listen. When you follow an artist, they can email to let you know when they have a new track available.

Great for showing off albums.
Try-before-you-buy feature
You can limit the number of free streams of each track you allow listeners if you wish
You control the download price (unlike some online stores), and can offer free downloads on tracks you wish to share but not sell.
Fans can add a tip for the music they like best, when downloading.
Fans can follow artists they like, and artists can subsequently email them.
You can link your gig information to Bandcamp via the Songkick app.

This site is not really suitable for getting feedback for work in progress.
The social dimension of the site is quite limited.
Music discovery is also fairly limited: users have to be actively seeking out new music.
Downloading is already on the wane – streaming is growing fast, but is not the focus of this site. This could affect the site’s relevance within just a few years, if the site does not adapt accordingly.

Where Bandcamp works best is as a well known online store, especially if you don’t provide music downloads direct from your own website. Because this site is very well known, it’s still a standard place for indie artists to be – at least for now.  You can use Bandcamp alongside your distribution deal (e.g. through CDBaby) providing that the distribution contract is non-exclusive, so that you get the benefit of being on both platforms.

What alternatives are there to Soundcloud? (Part 3: Orfium)

This is the third installment in the series, exploring where independent musicians can make their music available to the public.

Orfium platform music discovery

Orfium platform music discovery


The concept behind Orfium is the one-stop-shop and they are pitching themselves as the ‘answer to Soundcloud’. They have been around since 2016, and are a social network where you can also sell and monetize your music. The platform is effectively designed to be something like Soundcloud meets CDBaby. (Which would incidentally make a great combination if CDBaby were to get hold of Soundcloud.)

There’s no upfront or hosting cost. Orfium keep 20% of the revenue, if you decide to sell tracks through them rather than offer them for free. That means they are keeping 5% more than Bandcamp and CDBaby Free. On the plus side, Orfium can do more for you, as they can handle publishing, sync licensing, and YouTube monetisation, which aren’t part of the Bandcamp or CDBaby Free services.  (CD Baby can cover this, but you pay a fixed upfront fee to upgrade to either its ‘standard’ or ‘pro’ services, depending on your needs.)

So keen are Orfium to win over Soundcloud users that they have an ‘import from Soundcloud’ feature, however it only works with tracks that you’ve made available for download from Soundcloud.  There are not very many users just yet – charting tracks have a relatively small number of listens, which are currently dominated by a few bands; the ‘popular new music’ list mostly consists of tracks with less than a handful of plays. Electronic music dominates the site currently, possibly because this genre tends to adopt new tech early.

-A very well-designed, professional-looking site.
-No upfront fees.
-If you make remixes, they can be featured alongside the originals.
-There’s a playlisting feature; playlists can be set to be public or private.
-They also cover Facebook monetisation.
-If your fans play your tracks on the site, you could gain the attention of other site users simply through being a relatively early adopter of the site.
-You can set external links to another site where you sell a track, instead of via Orfium.

-If you want to sell through the site you could end up paying more in the long run than selling via a service with a fixed upfront fee, like CDBaby Standard, if you expect to make a lot of sales.
-There’s no app for it just yet (although they say there is one on the way).
-Downloads sold through the site are currently only available as mp3, not lossless files (although Orfium’s FAQs state that they plan to offer lossless later).
-A 20% charge on sales is a bit on the steep side. You’d have to weigh up whether you stand to gain overall via the additional sources of monetisation available like Facebook. Royalties/sales are also only paid to artists via Paypal or Payoneer, and in USD, so if you’re outside the States, expect additional fees.

This looks like a good site with a lot of potential, but it needs more music fans to use it. I don’t see it as a direct replacement to Soundcloud, as it seems better geared up for fully finished recordings, as it also offers distribution services.  The social side of the service seems more like a nice add-on to its distribution service at the moment, rather than being the core benefit, but that should change as more fans start to use the site. It is currently slightly better suited for electronic musicians, because there appear to be more electronic artists using the site, who will be bringing their fans to visit. Consider selling downloads through your own website, but using Orfium as the shop window, to lower your costs and to offer lossless quality files to listeners.

I entered a song contest!

Drooble-Competition-Entry-Sept-2017Drooble – a social media site for musicians and music fans – are running a song competition at the moment. They have two prizes, one for most original song and the other for the song that gets the most votes.

I thought I might as well put an entry in – it can’t hurt, can it? So I have entered Sleepwalker.

Please could you vote for me & share this link with anyone else who you think might like the song?


P.S. (If you fancy joining me on Drooble and discovering a load of other indie artists, as well, here’s a link for joining, too.)

TrickJazz Kickstarter: Update

Kickstarter LogoWith the Kickstarter sitting at 72% of its funding target, and 5 full days to go, I’ve received the news from TrickJazz that the Kickstarter is going to be cancelled, because a new source of funding has emerged which will set the project on a stronger footing going forward.

What happened?

Last month, after the Kickstarter had begun and a significant proportion of its funding had been raised, TrickJazz (aka Christian Facey) took part in a hackathon organised by IATA, and unexpectedly won one of the major prizes, for an idea unconnected to the mobile games Kickstarter. This win has brought him into contact with a group of software engineers, who want to progress both the chillout games and the idea that won the hackathon prize.  This will mean the Kickstarter campaign is now no longer needed to bring the chillout games to market.

The chillout games are still going to be made, and my music and those of the other artists that have been featured will still be included.

The games are actually going to be available sooner than previously, as the team will be able to concentrate fully on these rather than generating Kickstarter rewards. The first game, “Way of the Bubble”, should become available either later this month or early in July, and the games will now be available as free downloads, so anyone can access them.

As soon as I’ve got more news about this and the Dreamwalker game’s release, which is scheduled to have my Sunset Landscape in, I’ll let you know.

The announcement from TrickJazz can be seen on their Kickstarter updates page.

Kickstarter update – it’s off the blocks.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 21.13.14.png

I’ve spent quite a bit of my time the last week or so trying to raise awareness of the TrickJazz Kickstarter campaign I already mentioned.  Nearly a week in, and the Kickstarter is at almost 25%, with 30 backers, which looks fairly healthy at this stage of the campaign, but by no means ensures success – the way Kickstarter works is all or nothing. You have to get to 100%+ by the deadline (8th June), otherwise all the pledges made so far become meaningless.

Why would I spend so much time working for free? Well, this is an opportunity for me to have one of my best tunes used in an actual mobile game which will be downloadable from the App store (for iOS devices) and Google play (for android devices). That is a good thing of itself (especially as I haven’t had to devise and write a game to do it).

On top of that, the TrickJazz Chillout Series games are designed to help players find the music in them. My tune is scheduled to go on the Dreamwalker menu screen, which means that it should be played for a short while every time a player starts the game. So, if the Kickstarter fundraising is successful and the game gets launched, this could mean I find some more people who appreciate what I’m making.

I’m also finding that there are other benefits to putting the effort in promoting the Dreamwalker Kickstarter.  As well as learning more about how Kickstarter campaigns work, I’m discovering the existence of a lot of other game developers, so my knowledge and understanding of the sector is improving, too, which could, potentially, be useful in the future.

Putting my Business Hat on (Part 1)


Er no, that’s not a business hat. More like a thinking cap. Or a beehive.


One of the things I’d really like to do is write music for computer games, or have tunes I’ve written placed in a game.

A few weeks back, I was in touch with an app developer, TrickJazz Studios, who are planning to make some games to aid relaxation. We had a couple of emails back and forth, then I didn’t hear anything for a bit.

We had a follow-up phone call this week, to discuss whether we could work together on the project.  TrickJazz are a start-up venture and have been looking to recruit independent artists. They are aiming to get some big underground artists on board, or at least up-and-coming ones who are active on social media, as that makes it easier for them to get the games known about. I was asked to put together an email to describe what I could bring to the table, as that would influence whether my tune would be chosen.

On the back of that conversation, I had a pretty late night, pulling together relevant information on my ‘audience demographics’. In fact, I was up until after my resident blackbird had sung his morning song, as social sites like YouTube and Twitter can tell ‘content creators’ quite a lot about their audience.

The business side of being a musician doesn’t get talked about a lot, but it’s actually just as important as making good music, and understanding your audience is part of that.

Social media sites can tell you things like whether people watch your videos on their computer or on their phones, what countries you are getting views from, and what proportion of your audience is male/female. Obviously, none of the details given are personal, just general statistics about the overall audience. The data can help with understanding whether you’re communicating well with the people you’re in touch with, and whether you’re reaching the same people you expected to.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 23.15.53.png

Whilst there weren’t many surprises, one thing I discovered this week was that the male:female ratio of people watching my Youtube videos is completely different in the US to the UK.  This really surprised me, as I would have expected the distributions to be quite similar.

If you have any ideas why this might be, I’d be interested to know what you think in the comments, as I’m currently a bit puzzled!