epic fails Updated Oct. 16, 2023
By Justin Curto, who covers music, TV, and celebrity for Vulture
Update, October 16: Around 50 percent of staff at Bandcamp have been laid off after Epic sold the platform to Songtradr. Several staff members of the site’s editorial arm, Bandcamp Daily, were among those laid off, they shared on X. When Epic announced the sale, the gaming company said not all employees would receive offers from Songtradr. “These are not new layoffs,” Epic told Vulture in a statement today, adding that laid off employees would receive severance from Epic. Songtradr, a licensing company, previously confirmed on October 5 that the layoffs would occur. “Based on its current financials, Bandcamp requires some adjustments,” the company said. Bandcamp United, the workers’ union, had previously asked Songtradr to offer employment to all current Bandcamp staff, along with voluntary severance, after the sale. Songtradr has yet to recognize the union.
“Over the past few years the operating costs of Bandcamp have significantly increased. It required some adjustments to ensure a sustainable and healthy company that can serve its community of artists and fans,” Songtradr included in a statement to Vulture. “After a comprehensive evaluation, including the importance of roles for smooth business operations and pre existing functions at Songtradr, 50 percent of Bandcamp employees have accepted offers to join Songtradr. We are committed to keeping the existing Bandcamp services that fans and artists love, including its artist-first revenue share, Bandcamp Fridays and Bandcamp Daily.”
It’s game over for Epic’s ownership of Bandcamp. The indie music marketplace is being sold to Songtradr, a licensing platform, alongside broader layoffs at Epic. The sale is the second time Bandcamp has changed hands in less than two years, after the formerly independent company was purchased by Epic in March 2022. At the time, Epic committed to prioritizing artists with Bandcamp while helping the platform’s technological development. Now, the Fortnite maker is laying off 16 percent of staff — roughly 830 employees — while also dropping the marketing company SuperAwesome. “For a while now, we’ve been spending way more money than we earn, investing in the next evolution of Epic and growing Fortnite as a metaverse-inspired ecosystem for creators,” CEO Tim Sweeney said in a letter to employees. “I had long been optimistic that we could power through this transition without layoffs, but in retrospect, I see that this was unrealistic.”
Songtradr, in its own press release announcing the acquisition, made the same commitment to “continue to operate Bandcamp as a marketplace and music community with an artist-first revenue share.” The company seems to see Bandcamp as an asset to its own licensing business, describing plans to “offer Bandcamp artists the ability and choice to have their music licensed to all forms of media including content creators, game and app developers and brands.” Additionally, Epic is investing in Songtradr amid the sale and plans to work with Songtradr to license Bandcamp music to Epic games. Sounds complicated, but as long as we can still buy our albums …