Bandcamp acquisition of Epic puts industry on edge

One of today’s most successful game developers made a special purchase this year. Epic Games, known from Fortnite among others, is the new owner of the online music store Bandcamp. At first glance, this is not an obvious purchase, but one that should ultimately bring games and music closer together.

Bandcamp was launched in 2008 and quickly became a major player in the independent music industry. The online music store introduced a new way of selling where users decide how much they pay after the music has been downloaded. Bandcamp works with low commissions and focuses on artists and bands. For example, during the global pandemic, the platform waived commission on the first Friday of each month. As a result, artists who saw their income disappear at the time could count on additional revenue.

Developer friendly

Epic was founded in 1991 and established itself as a developer of game successes such as the Unreal, Gears of War and Infinity Blade franchises. It is also the company behind the widely used and free Unreal Engine. The game maker is now active on several fronts and even offers third-party titles through a digital store: Epic Game Store.

The biggest success, however, is the ‘free 2 play’ game Fortnite, where billions are earned from the purchase of cosmetic items and seasonal tournaments. In April this year, Epic Games received a $ 32 billion stock valuation. Like Bandcamp, the company is known for being “developer friendly.” For example, it charges a relatively small 12% commission from developers who sell games through the Epic Game Store. By comparison, Apple is asking for 30 percent. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney even accused Apple of monopolizing the mobile gaming industry. The lawsuit that Epic Games filed over this lost the company.

A new digital marketplace

Although the two companies operate in completely different branches of the entertainment industry, there are different similarities. The two most important are putting the customer first and the digital ambition. During the Epic Games, the music platform aims to “expand internationally and drive the development of the platform.” Ethan Diamond, co-founder and CEO of Bandcamp, said in a press release that the acquisition will not change the online music store. “We want to remain an independent marketplace. Products and services come from nowhere, artists still have 82 percent of every sale, and you still have control over how you offer your music. With Epic, we’ve found a partner who, like us, believes in “The future of music and art depends on fair and inclusive communities built by our fans and artists.”

Although 2022 is a little over halfway, the entertainment industry has experienced more acquisitions and consolidations than ever before

Steve Allison, vice president and general manager of Epic Games, said he was particularly pleased with “the incredible community and business that has been built where new artists can succeed thanks to the direct support of their fans, with one of The best revenue models and conditions in music. ” ‘. “This is in line with Epic’s approach to supporting creators across all media and enabling them to connect directly with their fans.” Nice words, but the acquisition is primarily a way for Epic Games to accelerate the ambition to establish a different online marketplace. This digital point of sale should eventually become a destination where not only games can be bought, but also other content such as technology, art and music will be sold. Earlier, Epic announced that this new digital store will be ‘the most artist-friendly platform ever’. A marketplace where artists “keep most of their hard earned money” after the sale. It is clear that Bandcamp will play an important role in that vision. However, this does not seem to be the only reason why Epic Games provided the music platform.

metavers

The exact details of the consequences of the purchase are not yet given, but it should be clear that Epic Games will use its new purchase large and wide. For example, it would be a small step to give developers using Epics Unreal Engine access to Bandcamp’s huge music library. There is not yet an accessible, simpler and more direct way to license music. For those artists who sell music through the digital store, there is another potentially great opportunity. Epic programmed several concerts in Fortnite by big names like Travis Scott and Marshmello. Virtual performances that were seen by millions of people and that did not harm the artists. Now that Bandcamp is part of Epic, it should die with opportunities for live streaming now standing wide open. Finally, of course, the final arrival of Metaverse also plays a role. In 2020, CEO Sweeny shared a special vision of the realization of this in the British newspaper The Guardian. “The most obvious way to make the metaverse attractive is if it is not made by one company and everyone is forced to use it. That use will happen naturally as more companies and brands connect their products and services in Metaverset. “And of course, Epic, as a tech party with a wide range of games and music, is happy with that role as a connecting factor.

The consumer of the future

One thing is for sure, the future of the music and gaming industry has become even more exciting with the acquisition and has the potential to create even more opportunities. Although 2022 is a little over halfway, the entertainment industry has seen more acquisitions and consolidations than ever before. But if you look beyond the buying messages, you will see that the boundaries between the segments of the entertainment industry seem to be blurring more and more. And this is not surprising, because the consumer of the future is everything and wants everything. Her or his consumption behavior stands or falls with the availability of content. The one with the most interesting and comprehensive entertainment content will soon have the best cards.

Epic programmed several concerts in Fortnite by big names like Travis Scott and Marshmello.

[Dit artikel is eerder gepubliceerd in Entertainment Business juni 2022]

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