Epic Games is a big company that recently purchased a smaller company with a large but passionate fanbase: Bandcamp. Known for being an artist friendly platform for smaller creators and focused solely on music and other audio content, it remains a solid safe harbor for independent music.
Recent news of the purchase has a lot of music fans worried. First, it’s Epic Games stepping in. That’s scary enough all by itself. Secondly,the Chinese company Tencent has an ownership stake in Epic that makes some leery of privacy issues thanks to the current international climate. Fans fear that the ‘artist first’ model of Bandcamp will fall before the almighty dollar, costing artists their livelihood and dooming them to the same fraction of a cent they earn per eleventy million streams via sites like Spotify and Pandora.
Epic Games and Bandcamp
Bandcamp is keeping the music industry fresh and full of life. They even host ‘Bandcamp Friday,’ a day each month where Bandcamp waives nearly all of their fees to artists, ensuring that one hundred percent of all sales go to the content creators in question, be they comedians, musicians, spoken word artists, or other such audio based artists that patronize the platform. The event began during the pandemic, assuring that many of these artists stayed afloat during this unprecedented time.
So will the acquisition by a major corporation ruin this bastion of creative labor? Not necessarily. This is a situation where the ephemeral nature of the public consciousness can be problematic. Concerns like these rise around a company like Epic Games, questioning whether or not it will compromise a fair and equitable existing market, proving that the masses have already forgotten about Project Liberty.
The code name is a reference to Epic v. Apple, a court case launched by Epic via a specific sequence of actions designed to either force Apple’s hand or initiate legal action. Specifically, the suit pertained to Apple’s control of digital gaming commerce via the strict gateway of the App Store and the exorbitant 30% cut it takes of all revenue generated by creators. The same allegations were levied against Google and its Google Play store in a separate lawsuit, both which were initiated after Epic created a means for fans to purchase in-game currency for their hit Fortnite via the app, circumventing payment through the Apple and Google stores. This caused both companies to remove Fortnite from their app stores, and resulted in Epic pursuing legal action.
While the antitrust lawsuit was, essentially, a loss for Epic at the end of the day, it speaks to their belief in competition. Supporting creators, through the Epic Games mindset, just makes sense, as does purchasing an already flourishing company and expanding their ability to do business, reach more customers, generate more revenue.
Epic Games and Artstation
What’s more, the antitrust suit Epic filed isn’t the only proof. Previously, Epic purchased ArtStation in 2021, a company similar to Bandcamp but catering to visual artists. Not only does the platform offer a place for artists to assemble portfolios and sell their work, but also facilitates the buying and selling of assets. So far, the only significant change to ArtStation is that, since Epic’s purchase, their collection of educational materials and tutorials are now free. Their own personal game engine, Unreal, is also an asset they offer to the gaming industry free of charge, only charging royalties for game that make in surplus of $1 million in sales. There is a marketplace for the buying and selling of assets for the engine as well.
The Way You Do One Thing is the Way You Do Everything
In the end, at every turn Epic has been quite vocal about their support of a free and open market that favors creators, which only serves to make Epic more profitable. There are other issues in play, such as whether or not Epic will take advantage of this new purchase to license music for properties like Fortnite. However, there’s little reason to believe that they will deviate from their creator-based company culture and mentality.
Only the future can say what will happen, but given the state of the gaming industry as of late? It definitely feels like something to dance about
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.