What’s The Best Way To Buy Music Online?

Bandcamp logo (round)
Too long; didn’t read? Use Bandcamp (whenever possible) to support artists and get the best available sound quality.

I’m shamelessly promoting Bandcamp here again, because the platform is both good for the musicians I want to support, and for me as an independent musician. Only a few friends have begun to catch up with my enthusiasm for Bandcamp as the preferred way to buy music, but I can tell the word is beginning to spread. With my help, too.

I want to not only promote Bandcamp, but promote the attitude they portray in supporting artists. They take a smaller portion from artists than any other top company in the music biz. In fact, companies like Spotify and iTunes steal a much larger portion than their fair share.

Here are the reasons why Bandcamp is the first place I go when looking to buy music:

  1. Bandcamp cares about artists.

    I know this from experience. BC has played a big role in getting my music in front of countless new fans, and they never keep “too much” of a sale or charge too much for their services. They actively work to support art, unlike the more stuffy and corporate music monoliths (*cough* Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc.).

  2. They have a huge selection of underground and popular artists.

    A vast majority of the music I enjoy seems to be on Bandcamp. That number may shrink as I continue to get more into classical and otherwise foreign music, but the fact remains the same: Bandcamp is the Valhalla of music services when it comes to my favorite genres — underground metal and ambient.

  3. When you buy an album on Bandcamp, you own a proper studio recording — forever?

    This is in contrast to the lousy (i.e. 128kbps) MP3 compression you’re limited to with all major streaming services like YouTube, Amazon Music, iTunes, Spotify. That is not “studio quality” by any means. Once you know the difference between lossless or uncompressed music versus 128kbps streams, there’s no turning back. Bandcamp gives buyers multiple options for various formats to download, including WAV, FLAC, AIFF, MP3, and more. My personal preference is to get FLAC whenever possible, with WAV as my second choice. WAV files can easily be converted to FLAC to reduce their file size without losing any quality.

  4. The Bandcamp collection.

    I enjoy looking at my collection and showing it off to others. It’s also a place I can return to any time to re-download an album in whatever format/quality needed. Buying an album for any price adds it to this collection, and users can follow each other to see what others are buying each day.

  5. The Bandcamp wishlist.

    Mine is usually as big as my collection or bigger, because I’m loco for underground metal and ambient music. This feature can be dangerous and lead to full-on shopping sprees, but overall, it’s a win.

  6. Buying a physical album usually includes a digital copy in full “studio quality” (lossless FLAC, AIFF, or good ol’ WAV).

    This is huge for someone like me, who religiously rips each album I buy anyway. Stay tuned for a future post about how I keep my CD’s available to myself online 24/7, thanks to Plex..

    The benefits of Bandcamp’s digital downloads saves me the trouble of copying the music myself, along with giving me the music in pristine quality (sometimes higher quality than the CD, i.e. 24-bit WAV) while I wait for the physical copy to arrive. Often enough, the version on Bandcamp is higher in resolution than CD quality (for example, 48kHz/24-bit, like DVD audio). On a related note, some merch like t-shirts and posters can sometimes include a digital album as well. Rest assured, when you’re downloading an album on Bandcamp, you’d be hard pressed to find a more “pure” copy of the album anywhere else.

To summarize, I buy music on Bandcamp because it’s often the best place to buy physical and digital music (outside of any truly direct purchase from an artist). I recommend searching Bandcamp for what you’re looking for, instead of using a large corporate monster to get your music. Now go support some artists. We appreciate it.


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