Rethinking Independence with Bandcamp and Crypto
Hope you’re well, and taking some time to catch whatever glimpses of spring your neighborhood has to offer (or fall for anyone in the southern hemisphere)
We are particularly excited, because this past week marked our FIFTIETH episode. It’s been a wild two years, but making Money 4 Nothing has been a consistent pleasure for both of us—thank you all for listening. It means a lot!
Before we dive in: A reminder that our good gospel is spread by word of mouth (digital or otherwise). So please rate + review wherever (including…Spotify now?) and hassle your friends to listen!
As always, if you have comments, questions, concerns, feedback, offers of beverages, offers of cool books we should check out, gifts, bribes, or swag, please hit us up at Money4NothingPodcast@gmail.com OR on twitter @m4npodcast
First up, we dug into the shocking sale of beloved “independent” marketplace Bandcamp to Fortnite-funded giant Epic Games. When it hit the internet, everyone was confused. Folks who played Gears of War wondered what Bandcamp was. Folks who purchase Japanese noise 7-inches wondered what Epic Games was. Chaos!
To try to get a better handle on things, we dug into the histories of both companies. Epic, it turns out, has long thrived by creating engines and marketplaces for other videogames. In recent years, it’s developed a serious interest in reducing the fees charged by digital intermediaries—something it shares with Bandcamp. And Bandcamp? Well…given that fact that it was a profit-driven company founded by tech entrepreneurs, it was probably never really that much of an “independent” alternative to the majors in the first place. That isn’t to point a finger at folks who were upset about the sale, mind you. It’s to raise the question of just what independence even means in our current moment. And, given the potential integration of Bandcamp-style creative communities into Epic’s sprawling metaverse….to give some real consideration to what it might mean in the future.
After puzzling that out, we got a chance to talk to a man who thinks that he might have an answer. That’s right, ladies, gents, friends, and comrades, we were DELIGHTED at the opportunity to talk to Mat Dryhurst, co-host of the Interdependence podcast, about the vast and evolving worlds of crypto + blockchain in music.
Mat has long been a proponent of these technologies and social formations, and thinks that they have the potential to enable forms of art & culture that could address many of the issues that have long dogged the industry. As listeners know, we’ve often been somewhat…skeptical about many of these topics. However, there’s definitely a lot to learn, and open discussion is the best way to get a sense of the ideologies and possibilities coming for all of us (especially given the CRAZY amount of capital that’s floating around in the space). We talked decentralized organizations, critical perspectives, big tents, the structures of power, the centripetal force of pop , and the inescapability of gaming…among other things. We’ve dropped part 1 of 2 this week, so stay peeled for the second installment.
Department of Actual Music:
Sam: I was reminded by a friend just how fabulous the music released by the Sahel Sounds label is. In particular, I’m deeply in love with the looping Coupé Décalé beats and brilliant sample drums of this Balani Show super-mix.
Check it (and everything else on the label!) out on…um…bandcamp.
Saxon: I’ve been dipping my toes into the prolific underground genius of Coil. There is SO much, but here’s one I’ve been particularly enjoying.
Saxon & Sam