Epic Games Just Bought Bandcamp For Some Reason

Because "fair and open platforms" means everyone must be, at some point, acquired by a bigger company.
A screen shot depicting the purchase of Bandcamp by Epic Games.
Image courtesy of Epic Games

Epic Games, developers of the popular video game Fortnite and game development tool Unreal Engine, have announced an acquisition of the online music marketplace Bandcamp, best known for letting artists have more direct control of selling music and merch to fans.

“We share a vision of building the most open, artist-friendly ecosystem in the world, and together we’ll be able to create even more opportunities for artists to be compensated fairly for their work,’ said Bandcamp founder and CEO Ethan Diamond in a press release today.

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A video game company buying a music platform is a little out of left field, but it comes in the wake of a series of big and bigger acquisitions in video games recently, including Microsoft proposing to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion and Sony buying Bungie for $3.6 billion.

Diamond said Bandcamp would continue “operating as a standalone marketplace and community,” with Epic most immediately aiding with an opportunity to “expand internationally” and expand development on tools to enhance elements of the Bandcamp experience, such as “album pages, mobile apps, merch tools, payment system, and search and discovery features.”

Epic, who unsuccessfully but very publicly sued Apple over the closed nature of its App Store during much of 2021, said the Bandcamp purchase was part of its broader vision for “fair and open platforms,” which it considers “critical to the future of the creator economy.” 

The response from many artists who use Bandcamp has been, unsurprisingly, skeptical. Whatever Epic Games’ intentions, there’s a long track record of formerly great services suffering, if not shuttering, when brought under a much bigger company. Such issues rarely crop up immediately, instead chipping away at what made the service good over time.

“honestly, this sucks,” said musician Mel Stone on Twitter. “half the money i make off music comes from bandcamp, and even if things are fine for the next few months, this can only go in worse directions. patreon + bandcamp + touring offer pretty much the only viable path to solvency as an independent musician and if even one of those gets seriously fucked the whole thing crumbles.”

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