THIS IS A FAKE
In recent days I’ve learned that fake band pages have been set up on Bandcamp by people whose aim is to defraud bands and labels of money that rightfully should go to them. As I looked into this a bit further, I realized this has happened before — and so some of you may already be aware of it. But for those who aren’t, here are a few examples of what’s happening.
Today one of our readers (thank you Sidney) alerted me to the fact that he was about to buy Aborted albums at https://aborted.bandcamp.com — but something about it looked fishy to him. He then contacted Aborted’s band management representative (as identified on the band’s Facebook page) and was told that the Bandcamp page was indeed a phony.
I’ve not found any links to a Bandcamp page on Aborted’s social media, and their current label Century Media does not put its releases on Bandcamp as far as I can tell. Aborted’s previous label (Listenable) does have a Bandcamp page that includes Aborted releases — but it’s a different URL (this one) than the one above.
Yesterday, the following announcement also appeared on Abbath’s official Facebook page:
“We have received notice that there exist some fake ABBATH-accounts on Bandcamp. The one and only ABBATH -Official- Bandcamp profile is this one:
“Please take the time to report such fake accounts to Bandcamp if you see them.”
After snooping around, I discovered a scam that briefly survived for a few days last October, when bootleggers set up what seemed like an authentic Amazon.com page on Bandcamp selling high-profile metal downloads and physical releases. That whole story is recounted here. That same article included this paragraph:
“That it took days for Bandcamp to respond to a fairly transparent bootleg operation illustrates the continued openness of their infrastructure. Unlike Soundcloud, which came under fire earlier this year for wiping out fair use remixes and mixtapes without warning, Bandcamp appears to rely on human judgment when it comes to taking down copyright-infringing material. There’s no algorithmic filter, no hard database of copyrighted music against which it compares user uploads, no bots trawling the network for infringements. That trust is great for artists, who don’t have to worry about a robot deleting their own music like they do with Soundcloud. But it leaves a wide loophole open for abuse.”
In my google searching I also found an instance where some counterfeiter had set up a fake Bandcamp page for the music of Merzbow (who has no genuine Bandcamp page at all). The band tried to alert people to the fakery (here, for example) and then later announced that the fake page had been deleted.
I suspect these aren’t isolated instances. Given the prevalence of web-based scams and scammers, there are undoubtedly other Bandcamp pages masquerading as legitimate sources of metal music, selling pirated song files or bootleg vinyl and CDs.
So how do you tell the difference? You might be lucky enough to see something on the face of the Bandcamp page that doesn’t seem right. But you might also go to the band (or label’s) Facebook page or official web site and look there for the link to their Bandcamp page. If they have a Bandcamp page at all, that would presumably be the right link to use. If anyone reading this has other ideas about how to verify the authenticity of a band’s Bandcamp page, by all means leave them in the comments.
I hasten to add that I have no idea whether this is now, or will be in the future, a widespread problem. I tend to doubt that scammers will go to the trouble of setting up a fake page unless the band or label is sufficiently well known that there’s some decent money to be made through their fraud. In addition, it would seem that the bands most vulnerable to this scam are the small percentage who have no legitimate Bandcamp page at all (either directly or through a label), which leaves the scammers free to come up with Bandcamp URLs that look legitimate and will be easily picked up by search engines without “competition” from any pre-existing legitimate pages.
But I’m no expert. For now, caveat emptor is a decent rule to follow.