We’ve been singing the praises of Bandcamp since its very early days. It no longer really needs the publicity: Metal has discovered Bandcamp in a big way, with dozens of record labels and thousands of bands now having established Bandcamp pages, where they stream, give away, and sell their music (and other merch). I’ve seen some writers calling it “a piracy killer”, and although that’s probably more optimism than reality, it certainly gives fans an effective way to hear and acquire digital music without having to enrich some douchebag torrent site with their visits.
Bandcamp’s creators have always said that over time they would add new features, and so they have. The most recent enhancement was rolled out in beta test beginning the week before Thanksgiving. It’s called the Bandcamp Fan Account, and for now it’s an invitation-only trial. I got my invitation on November 21 and intended to write something about this new development then, but I got distracted by something important, like the sound of a passing car, and forgot. Thanks to NCS reader Booker for reminding me.
The Bandcamp Fan Account allows you to establish your own customizable page on the Bandcamp site and to populate it with a list (with album art and recommended tracks) of all the music you’ve downloaded from Bandcamp, as well as a “wish list” of what you’d like to get. You can share your page with other people on Bandcamp, which allows them to explore the collection of what you’ve acquired. If you don’t want other people to see that Katy Perry album you got, Bandcamp also gives you the ability to hide selected albums from public view.
You can “follow” the fan pages of other fans and receive e-mail alerts when they download new music, which is how I know about Phro getting that Katy Perry album. The Fan Account also gives you the option of following bands and labels on Bandcamp, and if you do that you’ll get e-mail alerts when they add new music to their own pages.
Other features are being added, and I noticed a few new ones when I visited my personal page this morning: I can now add comments about the albums in my collection and I’m getting links to other people whose own collections include albums that I’ve got in mine.
Bandcamp undoubtedly has plans to make this Fan Account feature even more robust, but for now its main value (as I see it) is to provide yet another way of discovering new music — by seeing what other users have in their collections and what they add to it, as well as finding out immediately when bands and labels add new music for streaming and/or download.
My own collection isn’t as good a representation of what I’m listening to as it would have been a couple of years ago. Because I’m a lucky asshole, I get so many albums via promo links that I don’t buy or download as much music from Bandcamp as I used to. But I’ve sure been having fun browsing the collections of other people who are in the Fan Account beta test, and I think this new feature is a definite plus.
I haven’t yet seen when Bandcamp is going to make Fan Account feature available to everyone, but I suspect it won’t be long.