When Epic Games announced they’d bought Bandcamp last March at an undisclosed price, they were quite proud to tell the world about it. Their own official statement on the subject proclaimed that “Epic and Bandcamp share a mission of building the most artist friendly platform that enables creators to keep the majority of their hard-earned money.”.
Since then, to say things haven’t gone to plan is putting it very mildly indeed. Epic Games has been involved in a long-running dispute with Google – and it’s all to do with money. Google wants companies that use its Play Store to use their payment system – a practice which Epic Games has long disagrees with.
If they were introduced to Bandcamp, the company says payments to artists could take several weeks to be made – as opposed to the day or two at present. Epic Games also claimed it would mean Bandcamp could never be profitable – Google agreed not to make any changes to the current setup until legal matters were resolved.
Our friends at Chicago’s 5 Magazine take a particularly dim view of the situation – not one we disagree with, either…
In the meantime, long-held complaints about Bandcamp remain unresolved. Most of it centres around the site’s interface, which remains just as clunky and awkward as it was when Epic Games first acquired the site. Which just leads to questions as to why Epic bought it in the first place.
After all, as we regularly point out in our coverage of the Wez Saunders era at Defected, no one spends millions buying a company to do nothing with it. But a statement from Tim Sweeney at Epic Games reveals the truth of the matter…
“For a while now, we’ve been spending way more money than we earn, investing in the next evolution of Epic and growing Fortnite as a metaverse-inspired ecosystem for creators… While Fortnite is starting to grow again, the growth is driven primarily by creator content with significant revenue sharing, and this is a lower margin business than we had when Fortnite Battle Royale took off and began funding our expansion.”
In other words, Epic was investing heavily in the jewel in its crown and dropped the ball on its more recent acquisition. And with a reliable source in the business world confirming to Ears To The House that Bandcamp was profitable, it just leads to even more questions than answers.
Sweeney also referenced the ongoing legal issues in his statement, noting that “We’ve been taking steps to reduce our legal expenses, but are continuing the fight against Apple and Google distribution monopolies and taxes”. Amidst all that, a deal has quietly been reached with Songtradr to buy Bandcamp.
So what do the new owners intend to do with the business? Songtradr’s official statement on their purchase doesn’t provide much detail – indeed, the only new thing was to “offer Bandcamp artists the ability and choice to have their music licensed to all forms of media including content creators, game and app developers and brands.”.
Ironically, one of those companies whom Songtradr could licence songs to is Epic Games – the previous owners of Bandcamp…