blogs by Gio

people who know more than me talk about Epic acquiring Bandcamp

March 2, 2022: Bandcamp puts out a press release about their “joining” Epic Games. This follows in a line of eerily similar acquisitions of companies catering to indies, namely Sketchfab and ArtStation.

There are lots of interesting topics intersecting here:

  • Venture capital and the associated perverse incentives
  • Antitrust and general issues with corporate consolidations
  • The takeover of existing institutions, especially technical infrastructure
  • The false narrative of corporations as indie and non-corporate
  • Epic vs Apple and problems of platform monopoly
  • Bandcamp’s correct but rare approach to piracy, which is endangered

I’ll talk more about those some day, don’t worry. For now, though, have some tweets.

@mcclure111 on acquisitions in the tech industry and how/why being purchased by a large company often destroys the small acquisition:

My Emu Is Emo on venture capital and private equity:

Future of Music Coalition on the important role Bandcamp has, and the qualities it will need to preserve in order to still be decent and non-exploitive:

Ron Knox on Epic in particular, and the streaming market:

Megan Fox on venture capital:

…Okay, since I haven’t seen anyone else talk about it, let me talk about piracy for a second.

Bandcamp has always understood the truth behind piracy; most piracy is due to the market not providing a good product. People are generally happy to pay for their entertainment and compensate artists. The panic behind piracy is mostly due to an industry obsession with the perception of “lost revenue” and metrics, which has lead to an inordinate obsession over DRM and content management.

Bandcamp sees itself as a competitor to the natural phenomenon of filesharing, not that filesharing is an evil that they need to stamp out at the expense of their own business. As a result, they’ve consistently delivered a fantastic product and marketplace without ruining their site with elaborate schemes to prevent “malicious use.” You can look up a track by id, and just make an embed that links to it. People can click the embed to listen to the song, or click through to go to the website and buy a copy. It’s magical, and it’s exactly what the internet should be. Bandcamp is a breath of fresh air in this respect, as well as so many others.

Epic, meanwhile, is controlled by the Chinese multinational media conglomerate Tencent, which is exactly the kind of company that does go off on these revenue generation holy wars, even at their own expense. Just look at what they’ve been willing to do in order to monetize Fortnite. One only has to take one look at that to see that these are not people who place any meaningful value on human dignity or agency. So that worries me.

Anyway. On a lighter note,

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