Bandcamp: Putting Politics Before Music

Earlier today, Bandcamp put out a statement saying that on Friday, August 4th, 2017, they will donate all of their share of every sale they make on that day to the Transgender Law Center. As you may know, the internet has collectively been in a frenzy with varied reactions to President Trump's ban of transgender individuals in the military. And I do mean a frenzy; some people are happy, others are furious, and few seem to take a level-headed approach as far as my opinion goes. I don't swing hard to either side on this issue. I think we need to judge people on a matter of merit. People should be accepted into the military on a basis of their competency for the job. Playing into that though is mental stability, as being in the military is more taxing on the mind than I can personally comprehend. It should be made certain that the dysphoria of any trangender individual who is willing to serve will not inhibit their ability to be the best they can be in the military, but I'd be unwilling to support an outright ban on transgender individuals as a whole. That's all I'm going to say about my stance though, because the specific politics are not the point of this article. Truth be told, I don't care about what causes Bandcamp supports. They're free to do what they want. I'd like to note however that this deviates from the point of Bandcamp in the first place: to give independent artists & bands a solid platform in an industry that's overwhelmingly dominated by a triopoly of record companies. I will always respect Bandcamp for that. Most people go to bandcamp for one of many reasons: To listen to hip new music, to support their favourite artists, or even to build their own discography. It's an experience that thrives on the love of music; an art that we can all enjoy that transcends politics. When bandcamp took a hard stance on the transgender military ban, it disheartened me. Not as a matter of specific politics, but as a matter of focus. Bandcamp has decided to put politics ahead of music, & I believe that this was a grave mistake. When people monetarily support an artist on bandcamp, they are sending the message that they like what the artist is doing, & want them to keep doing it; all with the understanding that supporting bandcamp is part of the deal. But on Friday, that transaction takes on a new meaning. It will say that not only do you support the artist, but you support the ideological stance that their hosting platform-of-choice has decided to take. While that may be fine for those who fully support said ideological stance, but it presents a few problems. First of all, when I purchase music, I do it because I like the music that I'm getting in the transaction. I don't want to bundle that with support for any ideology or politics. If I want to support a political organization, I'll donate to them directly, but I don't want that to be conflated with my music purchase. Secondly, think about the people who take a hard stance against bandcamp's stance. They're not gonna want to support their favourite artists through bandcamp if they know part of the profits are supporting a stance that they're opposed to. That certainely wouldn't be good for the artists in this case, because they would be missing out on sales that would've occured if bandcamp had remained neutral. Lastly, think about the people who align with bandcamp's recent statement. What if bandcamp comes out in the coming months with a statement that ticks off these people? That would alienate another group of people from purchasing music on bandcamp, which would also harm the artists who depend on this platform. In summary, Bandcamp's choice to deviate from the music & to focus on the politics can only be a bad idea; for artists, for listeners, and for Bandcamp as a whole. By conflating music sales with donations for a cause, Bandcamp risks alienating many potential buyers, and hurting the artists that make this platform what it is. If you're an artist who self-publishes on any site, I highly encourage you to set up a way for your fans to donate to you directly, so that their transactions can say loud and clear that they are supporting you, and nothing else.