Bandcamp built a unique music business: profitable and good artists with a popular editorial arm. Now, half the employees at the Bay Area firm are losing their jobs, victims of a sudden corporate swap, SFGATE reported.
The Oakland-based company was purchased by Epic Games – makers of Fortnight and Gears of War – in early 2022. In September, just a year and a half later, Epic announced its plan to sell Bandcamp to Songtradr, a Santa Monica company that specializes in music licenses. Just 50% of Bandcamp’s employees got offers in the acquisition, Songtradr spokesperson Lindsay Nahmiache told SFGATE on Monday.
Of Bandcamp’s 118 employees, 58 did not receive offers, and 60 did, Nahmaiche said. One of Bandcamp’s remaining employees confirmed this Monday, saying that around 60 people are gone from the company Slack. SFGATE granted the employee anonymity in accordance with Hearst’s ethics policy. Bandcamp co-founder and former CEO Ethan Diamond’s Slack account is also now deactivated, according to a screenshot viewed by SFGATE.
The Verge reported that Epic Games bought the indie music platform back in 2022 for an undisclosed amount before selling it barely a year later.
Late last month, Epic Games laid off 16 percent of its workforce, or 830 employees, due to what CEO Tim Sweeney described as overspending. Epic also revealed that it would sell the Bandcamp business to California-based music licensing company Songtradr. In that announcement, Epic disclosed that an additional 250 people would be leaving Epic either through receiving offers from Songtradr or Epic’s divesture from its SuperAwesome ad business. Employees who did not receive offers from Songtradr were notified today and will be eligible for severance.
In an email to The Verge, Songtradr confirmed that 50 percent of Bandcamp employees have been extended offers to join Songtradr and reaffirmed from a previous statement the company’s commitment to keeping the Bandcamp experience the same.
TechCrunch reported 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.
According to TechCrunch, it was known from the start that layoffs would happen, and indeed, Epic and Songtradr were fairly straightforward about their necessity as part of the deal – technically the employees were laid off by Epic ahead of the formal acquisition, though it was Songtradr that decided who would and would not be hired.
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 importantance of roles for smooth business operations and preexisting functions at Songtradr, 50% of Bandcamp employees have accepted offers to join Songtradr.”
Personally, I’m sad that Bandcamp is now under new ownership. I’m hoping that things won’t drastically change under Songtradr, and that I will still be able to buy music, and support the artists who created that music, from Bandcamp. Songtradr needs to be extremely careful about the choices it makes with its new acquisition.