Songtradr says it will ‘work towards a fair and equitable outcome’ for Bandcamp workforce, following layoffs at Bandcamp made by former owner Epic Games
One of the biggest music industry stories of the year arrived last week with the news that Songtradr is to acquire Bandcamp from Epic Games.
The announcement arrived a year and a half after Epic (the maker of the hit video game Fortnite, and Unreal Engine) itself acquired Bandcamp – an online music store and direct-to-fan platform.
Today (October 5), Songtradr has responded to a press release issued by US-based Bandcamp employees yesterday (October 4), which revealed that their union – Bandcamp United – had sent a letter to Songtradr outlining a list of demands around the sale of the company.
According to the Bandcamp employees’ press release, they are “demanding employment offers for all workers; clear, consistent, and equitable voluntary severance offers; employment offers for all workers”.
The Bandcamp workers are additionally demanding that Songtradr recognizes the Bandcamp United union.
The workers’ PR claimed that, on September 28, “In an internal announcement to staff, Epic Games wrote that Songtradr, Inc. would be offering positions to some Bandcamp employees but not all.”
Songtradr told MBW in a statement today: “We have received Bandcamp United’s letter and are reviewing it.”
The statement added: “Supporting the Bandcamp community will be our number one priority once the purchase is completed.”
Songtradr further clarified that it “does not own or control Bandcamp yet”, and that “we are in the process of acquiring Bandcamp from Epic Games, and we expect the transaction to close within the next few weeks”.
It is not clear if that profitability continued under Epic Games’ ownership. Songtradr said in its statement today, that “based on its current financials, Bandcamp requires some adjustments to ensure a sustainable and healthy company that can serve its community of artists and fans long into the future”.
Songtradr has also confirmed today that “not all Bandcamp employees will receive offers from Songtradr” but that it will “will work towards a fair and equitable outcome for the global members of the Bandcamp team”.
According to Songtradr, any employees who do not receive offers within the next few weeks will receive severance from Epic “as part of their layoffs as communicated on September 28”.
Bandcamp employees said in their own press statement on Wednesday (October 4) that they “went to the table with Epic Games Management on Monday and Tuesday for ‘effects bargaining’ to negotiate severance”. They said that Epic has agreed to additional bargaining dates on October 10 and 11.
After the transaction closes, and Songtradr officially becomes Bandcamp’s new owner, the former company plans to keep popular existing Bandcamp services and initiatives including Bandcamp Fridays, Bandcamp Daily and the platform’s so-called “artist-first revenue share”.
Bandcamp Fridays launched in early 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when lockdowns impacted the earnings of indie artists from tours and shows.
In response, the company waived its share of revenue and donated all sales to artists for 24 hours on March 20, 2022.
The Bandcamp community spent $4.3 million on music and merch on that day, around 15 times more than the amount they spend on a normal Friday. The proceeds were all directed to artists. Bandcamp continued the initiative on the following first Fridays of every month after that. In the 21 Bandcamp Fridays that followed, more than $78 million was paid to artists and labels,
Then, after a three-month hiatus, the initiative returned under Epic’s ownership.
Under Bandcamp’s artist revenue share, the company claims that when a fan buys something on its platform, “an average of 82% of the money goes to the artist or their label — typically in 24-48 hours — and the remainder covers our revenue share and payment processor fees”.
Bandcamp’s share of sales is 15% on digital items, and 10% on physical goods. It says that payment processor fees are separate and vary depending on the size of the transaction, but for an average-size purchase, they amount to an additional 4-7%.
You can read Songtradr’s statement issued today (October 5) in full below:
We have received Bandcamp United’s letter and are reviewing it. Supporting the Bandcamp community will be our number one priority once the purchase is completed.
Songtradr does not own or control Bandcamp yet. We are in the process of acquiring Bandcamp from Epic Games, and we expect the transaction to close within the next few weeks. Epic has committed to running Bandcamp Friday as planned and will ensure Bandcamp can continue to operate and support artists through this transition.
Not all Bandcamp employees will receive offers from Songtradr. Based on its current financials, Bandcamp requires some adjustments to ensure a sustainable and healthy company that can serve its community of artists and fans long into the future. Those that don’t receive offers within the next few weeks will receive severance from Epic as part of their layoffs as communicated on September 28th.
We will work towards a fair and equitable outcome for the global members of the Bandcamp team.
Songtradr is planning to keep all the existing Bandcamp services that fans and artists love including Bandcamp Friday’s, Bandcamp Daily and its artist-first revenue share.
The press release issued by the Bandcamp United union on October 4 is below.
On September 28, Epic Games announced the sale of Bandcamp to Songtradr, Inc. In an internal announcement to staff, Epic Games wrote that Songtradr, Inc. would be offering positions to some Bandcamp employees but not all.
Bandcamp United – OPEIU Tech Local 1010 was in the process of bargaining their first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Epic Games. Bandcamp United was recognized in May 2023 and began bargaining in August.
Having not heard from Songtradr, Bandcamp United represented by The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) sent a letter on Tuesday (October 3, 2023) to Songtradr CEO Paul Wiltshire asking him to recognize the existing union.
Bandcamp United is demanding employment offers for all workers; clear, consistent, and equitable voluntary severance offers; and recognition of their union at Songtradr with a speedy continuation to bargaining while maintaining all the progress that has been made at the table. At the moment, Songtradr is offering positions to workers on a rolling basis with a 72-hour turnaround for acceptance despite the sales documents stipulating that the Purchaser allow 7 days to consider the offer. In addition, Epic Games and the Union have not come to agreement on terms for voluntary severance.
“The integrity of the workers who build Bandcamp is a crucial aspect of the company’s ability to uphold its values. Bandcamp’s core mission is best protected by retaining all workers and by those workers having a seat at the table.” – Cami Ramirez-Arau, Support Specialist
For almost 15 years, Bandcamp has been built on the idea of community. It has functioned as much more than a marketplace, providing a way for artists to connect and communicate with fans directly and for like-minded artists to find one another. Bandcamp has always stood strong in its beliefs and its place in the community that it has helped foster. As algorithms gradually wrest control of the music industry, Bandcamp has preserved an artist-first, defiantly human attitude. Maintaining the value that Bandcamp places on music is critical for artists everywhere, and it starts with valuing the workers who have built Bandcamp into the beloved platform it is today.
“We came together and formed this union at Bandcamp so we could support each other. We’ve been able to work effectively and directly with management at Epic Games to bargain collectively and we want to continue this process with Songtradr.” – Eli Rider, Data Analyst
Since the deal was announced, as part of the transition process, most Bandcamp workers have had critical systems access revoked by Epic Management and have been unable to do their jobs. With the upcoming Bandcamp Friday — a time of increased business for the site where 100% of profits go directly to artists — the workers are seeking clear and direct communication with Songtradr management and a continuation of the bargaining process to get the clarity they need to do the work that artists rely on.
Bandcamp United went to the table with Epic Games Management on Monday and Tuesday for ‘effects bargaining’ to negotiate severance. Epic Games has agreed to additional bargaining dates (October 10 and 11).
“Bandcamp isn’t Bandcamp without the people who build and maintain the website – we are the people who made this website the platform it is for artists. Songtradr not immediately recognizing Bandcamp United is a worrying indicator that they have misunderstood the value of Bandcamp. It’s not a platform or a portal, it is a painstakingly hand-crafted community. The workers who make up Bandcamp United are essential for the future of Bandcamp.” – Ed Blair, Support Specialist
We are calling on all artists and fans who love/support Bandcamp to remind Songtradr that to keep Bandcamp the same, they need the same workers and their union!
Music Business Worldwide