What time is it? It’s time for SoundCloud vs. Bandcamp!
These are both popular services for independent artists because they give us a way to promote and sell our music.
They certainly shouldn’t be considered the same, however, and many musicians will likely find themselves using BOTH rather than just one or the other.
In this guide, we’ll talk about their differences, and see who comes out on top in the SoundCloud vs. Bandcamp battle.
If You’re Crunched for Time… SoundCloud vs. Bandcamp Chart
Here’s a table comparing SoundCloud vs. Bandcamp:
Selling Your Music
Bandcamp is basically a music eCommerce platform where fans can discover and buy music directly from the artists who make it.
The Bandcamp platform is free to use, though they do take 15% on digital sales, and 10% on merch. Bandcamp’s “cut” of 15% on digital sales drops to 10% once you’ve made more than $5,000 USD.
Bandcamp also offers Bandcamp Pro ($10 USD per month) and Bandcamp for Labels ($20 per month for up to 15 artists, and $50 per month for unlimited artists).
Overall, Bandcamp is very much designed to help you sell your music (and get it streamed/listened to).
SoundCloud is kind of like the YouTube for audio tracks, and what it does, it does well.
You can upload, share, and embed any of your music, and it’s also free to use (up to 180 minutes). A Pro Unlimited User ($15 per month billed annually, $19.95 per month billed monthly) has no upload limit.
There are basically two ways to make money from your tracks on SoundCloud. The first is to add a “Buy-link” to your tracks. Here’s an example (see the “Buy on iTunes” link):
The other way is to monetize your tracks (when you’re eligible, you will be notified). This requires that you sign a Premier agreement (usually reviewed within 24 hours).
You can enable monetization for a track (or multiple tracks) by clicking on the pen icon to edit it and choose the appropriate options under the Monetization tab.
Summary: When it comes to selling your music (and even your merch), Bandcamp comes out on top. But the monetization options on SoundCloud are attractive if you’re getting a lot of plays. SoundCloud favors getting your tracks listened to, where Bandcamp favors getting your tracks sold.
Social networking is certainly another important factor when it comes to online platforms like Bandcamp and SoundCloud. We know just how powerful it can be for users to be able to like, comment, share, or follow a user – you have but to look to the examples of Facebook and YouTube and how addictive their platforms are.
Bandcamp is more of an eCommerce site than a social network, though they have added some social networking components (such as the ability to follow artists). They also allow artists to post, and followers can like and comment on artist posts.
From day one, SoundCloud has been geared towards social networking.
One of the coolest things about SoundCloud is the ability to comment on a track at a specific timecode (like 1:53, for example). So, someone could hear the guitar solo and leave a comment saying, “wow, I love your tone on this solo!”.
Additionally, on Sound Cloud, you can follow other users, private message them, and even create playlists and repost other people’s tracks.
The question is – do users still take advantage of these features?
And the answer is “yes”, although let’s just say it’s not like it used to be. When SoundCloud was brand new, it was easy to get engagement on your content. Now it’s hard to stand out. But most platforms seem to succumb to the same fate.
Summary: We have no choice but give it up to SoundCloud when it comes to social networking functionality. From day one, their platform has been designed to do this well. Bandcamp was never “sold” as a social networking platform, but the little functionality they do have is good.
Embedding Your Media
The fact that SoundCloud tracks could be embedded anywhere was kind of a big deal when they first entered the spotlight (example below). These days, this type of functionality is taken for granted (even Facebook posts are embeddable now), but it was a bit of a revelation when it came onto the scene.
Bandcamp also gives users the option of sharing and embedding their releases. You can even choose from three configurations, as you would with SoundCloud (example below).
Summary: SoundCloud and Bandcamp are basically neck and neck in this regard, though I am inclined to give SoundCloud the upper hand. And the main reason for that is because SoundCloud embeds are more common, and overall, are a little more enticing to click on. Further, SoundCloud has more sharing options (by default) than Bandcamp does.
Publicist & Reviewer Friendly
SoundCloud is basically the go-to for most publicists, music bloggers, reviewers, and so forth.
Even while promoting the Spirit Searcher, Vol. 1 compilation, our publicist requested that we upload our tracks privately to SoundCloud for easy access.
And, when bloggers review new tracks, generally, they like (and sometimes even demand) that you upload your music to SoundCloud and make it embeddable.
Contrast that with Bandcamp. I have NEVER heard of a publicist or blogger requesting a Bandcamp embed. The link to your Bandcamp page might come in handy, and in some cases, you might send traffic to it. But it probably won’t be of much use for your PR campaigns.
Summary: By far, SoundCloud is more publicist and reviewer friendly than Bandcamp. I would bet that some publicists and bloggers haven’t even heard of Bandcamp.
Stability & Longevity
Just looking at the headlines over the last few years, you might conclude that SoundCloud is on shaky footing.
Last summer, however, Rolling Stone announced that SoundCloud is making $100 million per year and is back on solid ground.
Meanwhile, I have NEVER seen any headlines proclaiming the death of Bandcamp.
Summary: I don’t believe SoundCloud is going anywhere. But it would be a lie to say they haven’t experienced some challenges in preceding years. In terms of stability, Bandcamp is the clear winner.
Overall Value, SoundCloud vs. Bandcamp
As you’ve already seen, SoundCloud and Bandcamp’s offerings differ quite a bit.
But given what they help you accomplish (one makes it easy for you to share your music and get it heard, the other helps you sell more music), their value is near indistinguishable.
Certainly, you are going to use them differently. There’s no getting around that. So, that makes some criteria hard to compare.
But both SoundCloud and Bandcamp have great free account offerings, and their subscription services are basically equally matched in terms of price and functionality as well.
Summary: In terms of overall value, both platforms are on equal footing.
SoundCloud vs. Bandcamp, Final Thoughts
Because you’re bound to use SoundCloud and Bandcamp for different purposes, they’re a little difficult to compare.
If you’re doing the regular round of promotional activities artists do for their releases, however, you’ll probably find yourself using both.
SoundCloud will come in handy for working with bloggers, publicists, reviewers, and media. You can even use SoundCloud to grow your career.
Bandcamp works perfectly as a sales platform, even if your music is distributed elsewhere.
But no matter what platform you use, it’s important to understand that you WILL need to focus on it to drive results.
Where do you stand on the SoundCloud vs. Bandcamp debate?
Let me know in the comments below!