Artists and fans rally in support of Bandcamp employees unionising

Bandcamp United Union Logo

Bandcamp workers recently joined forces to form the new union, Bandcamp United – now artists and music lovers have come forward in support of the movement.

The decision to unionise follows last year’s acquisition of the platform by Epic Games– one of the world’s largest video game and software development companies.

Although the partnership was completed in March last year, the decision left some fans nervous that the platform – which has become one of the most artist-friendly alternatives to Apple Music and Spotify – would no longer provide adequate support for independent musicians.

A year in, Bandcamp remains relatively untouched following the acquisition – however numerous employees have come forward saying that change is needed, and unionised under the name Bandcamp United.

“Many of us work at Bandcamp because we agree with the values the company upholds for artists: fair pay, transparent policies, and using the company’s social power to uplift marginalised communities,” said Bandcamp employee, Cami Ramirez-Arau (via Rolling Stone). “We have organised a union to ensure that Bandcamp treats their workers with these same values.”

As per the union’s mission statement, the organisation is formed by a majority of independent artists and promoters, who seek “an ethical and fair alternative” to the streaming economy.

“Bandcamp United is powered by us: designers, journalists, support staff, engineers, and more, all dedicated to the mission of Bandcamp,” it reads. “We began working here as an extension of our own love for independent music, and believe that a site such as Bandcamp […] should reflect its mission internally.”

Following the unionisation, scores of artists have taken to Twitter to share their opinions.

Indie band Deerhoof also took to Twitter to share their solidarity with the cause, highlighting their underlying unease regarding the acquisition. “When a billionaire video game company bought our beloved Bandcamp last year, they said don’t worry, this is different, we won’t be like the usual billionaires,” they wrote. “Well Bandcamp workers are now forming a union. We are rooting for them and hope the owners do the right thing!”

Canadian band Stars wrote that “it’s important that these workers receive our support – not just for them, but for the musicians who use Bandcamp as well,” while Laura Jane Grace agreed: “I support this effort to unionize. I also think artists on record labels should unionize within each label. Leverage collective power for higher royalty rates, healthcare, and job security.”

The likes of Bikini Kill, Speedy Ortiz, The Mountain Goats and a number of independent record labels also spoke out in support of Bandcamp United.

Fans have alsotaken to social media in support of the employees. “I support the Bandcamp union—SOLIDARITY,” wrote one fan.

Another tweeted: “Pretty much everyone I know in the music world at the very least uses Bandcamp. For most of us, it’s the only place we sell. Now that touring is even more of a crap shoot than ever, we need Bandcamp, which means we need their employees, which means we need their union to succeed.”

Learn more about the union on the Bandcamp United website and find more tweets discussing the unionisation below.

Last month, the platform announced that it would be introducing a playlist function on its mobile app, meaning fans could organise their collection of songs in more ways than ever before. “You can now use the Bandcamp app to make playlists from the music in your collection,” the update read.“This is just the start, we’ll be adding more playlist features in the coming months.”

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