Thoughts: An Open Letter to Bandcamp and a Message to My Readers

Dear Bandcamp,

This is the 1000th post on Noise Not Music. I’d be remiss if I didn’t attribute some of the reaching of this milestone to you. So thank you.

I posted my first review of a Bandcamp-hosted album in January 2018, but I had been an active and loyal user of the platform long before that. NNM seemed to grow hand in hand with Bandcamp, and our philosophies always seemed to align in a beautiful way. Prioritizing artists, labels, and other creators above everything else. Democratizing the stylistic continuum so that professionally produced pop records can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with sound art and noise. Creating a space where discovery and appreciation take precedence over critique. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

But last Wednesday, you showed your true colors. The world’s most beloved source for and supporter of independent music acquired by a company responsible for loot boxes, underage consumer exploitation, and all other manner of predatory capitalist entertainment initiatives. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

The most egregious problem with your decision is not that a significant stake of Epic is owned by Tencent, a repugnant entity supportive of the CCP and directly tied to Spotify and major labels—everything Bandcamp always proudly said it wasn’t. Nor that your greed will inevitably result in thousands of musicians’ livelihoods being steadily stripped away. Nor even that you wasted an opportunity to resist the incessant march of monopolization that will eventually strangle us all.

It’s that you had the audacity to insultingly, demeaningly, pretend that this is something exciting.

Your announcement is loaded with unspoken apology, the invisible but nonetheless palpable shroud of we know you won’t be happy about this, but…, and yet the words themselves spin a narrative that this act of bald-faced pocket-lining is a good thing for the platform and those who use it. The level of disrespect this broadcasts to us is unfathomable.

Let’s get something straight: you are not “joining” Epic. A porcelain cat with bobbing arms I buy at a flea market does not “join” my shelf of knickknacks. You were purchased, subsumed. You sold out. Just being honest about it would have shown at least a shred of remaining dignity. But you have none left, that final fragment lost in a swamp of corporate euphemism.

I write this because I, we, loved you, once. I write this to remind you of just how comprehensively you have violated your core values, how completely you have broken the promises you made to us. I write this to say a betrayed, defeated farewell. I write this to you. Whoever you are. Whatever you are.

Sincerely,

Jack Davidson


To my readers,

This is the 1000th post on Noise Not Music. I have tears in my eyes when I tell each and every one of you, THANK YOU. For everything.

I feel compelled to explain why, unlike many others, I immediately cut ties with Bandcamp and am now taking time to completely reimagine NNM. It’s not because I believe that continuing to support artists and labels is a bad or unethical thing to do—it isn’t. It’s not because I’m trying to make a point, broadcast a performative blast of defiant silence—at its core, that would be the same as giving up.

It’s because I’m just tired.

Tired of “music” being about so much more than just music. Tired of beacons of independence being snuffed out. Tired of cryptocurrency and NFTs worming their way into every nook and cranny. Tired of having to keep track of which noise labels associate with racists, misogynists, pedophiles; which platform is owned by which conglomerate; which people care about the art and which people only care about what they make off of it. Tired of seeing artists I respect play sold-out shows to packed crowds of unmasked fans as hundreds of people in this country alone are killed every day by a virus we’re pretending has just disappeared. Tired of this thing I love so much threatening to become, in so many different ways, a thing I hate.

So yeah, I’m taking a break for a bit. I’ll keep posting to the Instagram account and will probably put up some new mixes here as well. And I’ll still be listening, of course, so if you want recommendations, or want to recommend me something (please!!), or just want to chat, reach out wherever.

With regard to Bandcamp, I would suggest those searching for an alternative look into Resonate Co-Op. Far from perfect, but promising.

Again, I am so thankful for you all. And I’m not going anywhere. I once said NNM will end when I die. That is still very much the plan.

Love,

Jack

11 thoughts on “Thoughts: An Open Letter to Bandcamp and a Message to My Readers

  1. Thanks for all that you’ve posted over the years, especially the mixes. I hope your work here continues to bring you joy, as it does me.

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  2. I checked into today to comment to thank you for that It It recommendation. What a great album! Provocative and playful and just inspiring. I hear you on Bandcamp too. I was recently thinking they’d been a real beacon during a dark period, so I was wondering when they’d get snuffed out. I’m also old and have seen this happen over and over, and over and over I’ve seen worthwhile music and people find their way to the light. So thanks again, keep on.

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  3. I am from Mendoza, Argentina. I’ve been making noise for 10 years. I’ve started many times, some better than others. I’ve just launched a new project called zylog. I mutually agree with what you wrote. sure I will migrate platform. for while I leave you my project. I only use free software.
    .https://zylog.bandcamp.com/album/horror

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  4. You’ve done amazing things here just representing for the sound you enjoy and the culture you want to be a part of. Don’t let the buggers get you too down and I hope you enjoy your well-earned breathing space.

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  5. Rediscovered this blog just a couple of months ago, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite resources for finding new music. Thanks for all the effort you’ve put into this — such an incredible project. I’m relieved to hear you’ll still be posting to Instagram and look forward to following your work into the future!

    Like

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