The Bandcamp Album Rating System

A confession: I’m still very much a 20th century man when it comes to collecting music. I prefer my tunes on CD or LP above all else. Still, technology has managed to drag me — kicking and screaming — into the digital age. I own an iPod, which is actually considered quaint these days. And while I refuse to embrace digital vehicles like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora(*), I have fallen madly in love with one musical app, called Bandcamp.

Bandcamp is a music app built for musicians, which is more than I can say for the other platforms. There are hundreds of thousands of musicians struggling to be heard around the world. The dearth of major music labels and the rigid nature of American radio formats makes this all but impossible. With Bandcamp, artists finally have a chance to be heard and rewarded for their efforts.

The app is painfully easy to use. Create an account for yourself, and start browsing. Pick a musical genre and dive in. Or you can stream one of the app’s playlists. You can focus on a particular style, an instrument, or a region of the world. Every genre has multiple sub-genres. The exploration is open-ended and seemingly endless.

The site allows you to stream an album four or five times, then asks you to buy it. And that’s only fair. The artists deserve to be paid for their efforts, and Bandcamp gives them 70 percent of the sale proceeds. If you want to think about making a purchase, you can put the album on your wishlist. The good people at Bandcamp will probably regret giving me that option. As of this writing, I have about 600 albums sitting there!

I haven’t heard all these records yet. I’ve read about them in assorted magazines, and they caught my interest. When time allows, I listen to each one. This can be time-consuming, but it is very worth it. (Some bands only allow a couple of tracks to be previewed from each album, particularly if said album has not been officially released yet.) Still, it got to the point where I listened to so many albums, I lost track of what I was hearing! In time, I realized I needed a system to help me keep things organized.

My method was simple: on a legal pad, I wrote down the name of the artist, the name of the album, and assigned it a rating of 1 to 5. A 1 meant I’d heard the album, and didn’t care for it. 2 means I’ve heard it, and I’ll give thought to hearing it again. 3 means I like the album, and will strongly consider purchasing a download. 4 means I will definitely download it, and will consider buying a CD. 5 means I am moving mountains to make the band’s CD part of my collection.

Purchasing a CD automatically entitles you to a download, which is a very nice feature. those downloads are placed in a collection within the app. You can make your collection public, and follow the collections of others using the app. Yes, you can follow my collection, which is cleverly listed under my name, Cedric Hendrix.

There will be more than a few Bandcamp discoveries discussed on this page. I look forward to sharing them with you. I’ve spent a lot of time complaining about the lack of quality music these days. I just wasn’t looking in the right place.

Problem solved.

https://bandcamp.com

(*) I was a huge fan of Pandora until I learned that they, like the other streaming services, pay the artists fractions of pennies on the dollar per stream. It is all but impossible for an artist to make a living this way. Until that changes, I will avoid those sites like the plague.

6 Comments

  1. Nice piece on Bandcamp, and a good guide for anyone who hasn’t used it yet. I’ve visited it a few times this year, purely because physical editions of albums were no longer available to purchase, and as you say, it’s a doddle t purchase and download. the only drawback, from my experience, is that the files are not as high quality as they could be. I’m not a hi-res snob by any means, but I’ve always ripped my cds to mp3 format at the highest level -320 – and some of the bandcamp stuff falls way short of that. Fine for just listening to on your mp3 player, but doesn’t stand up to scrutiny is ripped to a cd for a hi-fi. Shame really, because there is a lot of good music on there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In a perfect world, there would be a CD available for everything on he site. Alas, it didn’t work out that way. Still, I’ll take a slightly inferior sounding download of good music over pristine sounding crappy music any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

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  2. Agree 100% with johnstout64…this is a great “Bandcamp for Dummies” write-up.

    I also love the “tangible” side of music…i.e. liner notes, inner sleeve photos, lyrics, etc…this, in my opinion, is where the digital age suffers…but I also can imagine the cost of such endeavors would bury new artists, so I’ve had to come to embrace digital…I’ve got 4 external disc drives just loaded with gigabits of sound, but I still find myself pulling out my old, beat-up vinyls just because I can…

    …and then there is wav vs flac vs 320 vs vo vbr vs v2 vbr….just give me a record and a turntable already, dammit!

    Sound degradation in the digital world is really where digital delivery falls apart IMO…and it SHOULD be an impetus for more listeners to seek higher quality, but like all things these days… faster, cheaper, and lighter unfortunately win out. NOW, I have seen vinyl making a comeback lately, which is wonderful to see, but the process – specifically printing and distribution – can be very cost prohibitive when compared to digital marketing…so we probably won’t see many new artists following this path. Therefore…digital it is…until 8 tracks make a comeback!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. …so wife asks me to put music station on…….a sudden sickness and feeling of being ashamed overcomes me as I regretfully login into my Pandora account…ah Ced, what have you done to me!!!

      Like

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