Bandcamp’s new owner lays off half the company

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Bandcamp has officially changed hands from its old new owner, Epic, to its new new owner, Songtradr, and lost half its employees in the process. Songtradr confirmed that “50% of employees received offers” to continue on under the new ownership — and naturally the other 50% didn’t.

The venerable digital music marketplace was acquired by Epic last year, but clearly the Fortnite maker wasn’t quite sure what to do with the company, and late last month resold it to music licensing platform Songtradr as part of a wave of cost-cutting.

It was known from the start that layoffs would happen, and indeed Epic and Songtradr were fairly straightforward about their necessity. But it was never clear whether they were talking about a few redundancies in web design and sales, or across-the-board cuts. It seems it was the latter, as Songtradr explained in a statement:

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. After a comprehensive evaluation, including the importance of roles for smooth business operations and pre existing functions at Songtradr, 50% of Bandcamp employees have accepted offers to join Songtradr.

A spokesperson for the company added that “There were reductions made across all departments, and all departments still have original Bandcamp employees.” Acquisitions very frequently result in loss of positions, so while this isn’t unusual, 50% does seem like a lot — and a lot of people are sadly out of a job.

Notably, Bandcamp employees were in the process of unionizing, or rather some had done so already, a factor that has been suggested as contributing to Epic’s sudden distaste for ownership. I asked Bandcamp United for comment on the layoffs and have not heard back from them.

Songtradr said that it had no access to union membership, and the offers were made without any of that information.

When I asked whether Bandcamp will remain independent, Songtradr responded as follows:

Bandcamp will continue to serve its Fan and Artist community as a dedicated service and stand-alone solution. From the business structuring point of view, Bandcamp employees will be part of Songtradr and over-time they will fully integrate into the Songtradr organization.

Until last year, Bandcamp seemed to be one of the few remaining places for relatively simple and equitable monetization for independent musical artists. The corporate takeover and resale does not bode well for the platform, but we will know soon what effect these layoffs and any other changes will have on the business.

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