As Bandcamp waives fees again, labels donate their portion to justice programs

Brian Heater

There’s a decent chance buying music is the furthest thing from your mind right now, and I can’t say I blame you. Here in the States, 108,000 people are dead due to COVID-19, and protests against the killing of George Floyd raged on for an eighth night. Neither of these society-shaping events are set to stop any time soon.

Personally, music has been a lifesaver throughout the lockdowns and some personal struggles. Without streaming services and vinyl, I dread to imagine what state my already fragile psyche might be in. For that reason, Bandcamp’s monthly day of waived fees has been an important opportunity to give back to musicians who have given me so much, but continue to struggle as touring — the primary source of income for many — has ground to a halt.

This month, things are a bit different. In addition to Bandcamp waiving its share of sales, a long list of artists are using their own cut to donate to important issues. Once again, it’s a long list, which can be found here.

Bandcamp is waiving fees today in support of artists

Many are donating proceeds to the National Bail Fund Network, as police round up often peaceful protestors. Other highlighted organizations include the NAACP and Reclaim the Block. The NAACP will get another bump from the service on June 19, when Bandcamp donates its cut of sales directly to the organization.

Throughout the pandemic, Bandcamp’s monthly artist days have brought in more sales than any other in the service’s history. That’s made even more remarkable as jobless claims have soared to 40 million. COVID-19 has had an otherwise historically debilitating impact on the music industry. In March, music sales suffered their worst week in 60 years.

The days have been a lifeline for many artists, as has Bandcamp in general. Check out Pitchfork’s recent breakdown of artist revenues on the site versus other streaming services, which tend to deemphasize artist payouts, to the say the least. And if you’re interested in supporting Black artists, labels and producers specifically, this spreadsheet is a great place to start, with more than 1,000 names. 

Oh, and while you’re at, the new Run the Jewels is fantastic and available through their site. It’s technically free, but while you’re there, you can kick some cash to the National Lawyer Guild’s Mass Defense Fun to support the people who support arrested protesters.

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