The relative inconveniences and downsides of the Bandcamp experience
Some recent posts have noted that, despite a decimated catalog and long-lingering doubts about artist compensation, the eMusic site is pretty “slick.” After I started making more Bandcamp purchases last year, the shortcomings of its site became clearer, and I meant to list them a long time ago. Better late than never, and while this may better go to their tech support staff I doubt I’d get a response there or that it’d result in any reforms. So here’s venting, w/ eMu’s functionality often as a counterpoint…
After a purchase, settings default to follow what’s purchased —> unsolicited spam and announcements for every new addition to the catalog. If you buy a diverse selection and don’t want to receive a ton of email, it takes quite a lot of clicking to unsubscribe.
No advanced search —> artists & labels w/ the same or very similar names get jumbled or missed altogether (hard to tell if one is “the right one” by a particular name). What’s the point of having a “FAN” page for an artist? It just gets one’s hopes up that they’ll have something to purchase. Will a lot of “fans” entice the artist to list their discography? Doubtful.
Can’t usually tell when something is pre-order only (put release date w/ artist/band name and album title!). Also have to click to see if something is a single or an LP (EPs, for some reason, are more likely to be labeled in the title). Even if titles labeled “Single” on eMu are often not just one track, they’re equally likely to be a bargain EP, which is nice.
Artist or Label? Due to fees for registering as a label, many labels apparently register as artists, and this is confusing. When registered as an artist, there’s no “compilations, etc.” sorting option.
Sometimes a search for a label will just go straight to a single release page, leading one to believe there’s no page for the label as a whole. Sometimes one then has to click on Discography to see all the releases, a cumbersome circumnavigation...I'd rather be taken to the catalog with the single release in it.
Pushing ENTER to search for something rather than waiting for search suggestions means one has to return to the homepage to get suggestions in a search again. Search suggestions are capped at five. Search results given in # of pages rather than # of results.
The search bar disappears entirely in some self-contained label shops, requiring one to click the back button (or if one’s in deep, to re-enter the Bandcamp home page URL b/c there’s no link to it).
Unlike eMusic, a new tab has to be opened if you want to sample/stream something but surf elsewhere.
Annoyances of Bandcamp browsing from Covid-19 benefit day. I went through several on the list that said they’d be NYP but turned out not to be. It’s fine for people who know what they’re looking for, but not so great for exploring new labels. Some titles are pre-order only, pretty annoying that you can’t filter catalogs only for what’s available now. I’m not going to pre-order stuff I’ve never heard of. Sampling whole albums is clearly better to hear the whole thing before taking the plunge on a whole album, but although 30-second samples can give the wrong impression of a track (or especially an album), it does make snap judgments for faster browsing easier (and yes I know I can just cut off listening any time, i.e. at 30 seconds, but every click is more work). I presume the special promo is making the load time for sampling albums so slow…as a result I only bought stuff I knew I’d like or had heard of before. Actually trying before I buy will have to wait for a day w/ less traffic when Bandcamp is taking a cut again. It would be the height of irony if the site went under and had to adjust up its cut and lost labels/artist as a result of everyone stampeding the site on these promo days.