A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
Launched in 2008, BANDCAMP is the first of a new cadre of online and mobile portals for independent music fans, artists, and labels. Fans can freely browse and listen to, apparently, 1,600 albums. They can also filter content by 25 genres, plus by what's best-selling, staff picks, or new songs, or choose from four formats: digital, vinyl, CD, and cassette. Favorites can be added to a wish list, gifted through email, or added to your collection (with mobile-device synch), usually on a name-your-price basis or a few dollars. Popular music-style titles for younger kids are nearly absent, but the range of possibilities in other genres is nearly endless, including a few titles in comedy, spoken word, and devotional. The "Bandcamp Weekly" podcast includes artist interviews and integrates a continuous featured feed, while the feed page populates with new releases from followed artists and recent purchases from followed fans.
Is it any good?
Tired of the same old stuff playing over and over and over ... and over ... on the radio? Hoping your kids will discover a wider world of possibilities for individual artistic expression? Bandcamp is a fascinating exploration across continents, heartfelt causes, and mostly musical points of view. The site allows fans to search and listen freely among traditional genres such as Latin, classical, rock, and reggae, but behind each one you'll find a good number of titles that not only defy the genre but categorization altogether. Particular outside-the-norm entries include the Kinda Funny Gamecast, game soundtracks such as that for Star Crawlers, stand-up comedy by Robert Jenkins, and farcical PSAs from Welcome to Night Vale. This is, in all senses, the beauty of bandcamp. Album pages offer up everything from artist-generated tags, share/embed buttons, traditional liner notes, Facebook and page links, and a name-your-price option or extremely low asks such as $1 or $3. This gentle approach will soon get kids and adults wanting to support these artists, who produce an amazing array of unique sounds in such a humble fashion. Quality varies, but again, this is the beauty of the experience.
The interface and navigation can be a bit confusing, and it isn't possible to filter by location and genre at the same time. The lack of a way to play your whole collection continuously or in random mode is a bit disappointing as well, but full albums will play automatically. These little issues nag, and a few iffy titles could spoil the experience, but the connection users feel with artists representing cultures and musical interpretations from across the globe is worth it all.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the steps an artist takes to express and share his or her music. Can artists make a living playing live shows alone? What choices does an artist make when deciding how to distribute his or her work?
Listen to the weekly feed, or select albums to listen to together. Are there certain songs or albums that you wouldn't want young kids to listen to? Why?
- Subjects: Arts: improvising and music analysis, music, rhythm, singing
- Skills: Creativity: combining knowledge, imagination, making new creations
Self-Direction: effort, initiative, motivation, personal growth, self-reflection
Emotional Development: empathy, perspective taking
Communication: conveying messages effectively, listening, multiple forms of expression, presenting, speaking
Tech Skills: using and applying technology
- Genre: Music
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Price: Music titles are often name-your-price but there is no upper limit, usually suggest $1 or $2. Bandcamp collects 10 to 15 percent of digital sales and 10 percent for "merch" but processing fees are separate and range between 4 and 6 percent.
- Pricing structure: Paid, Free (Bandcamp Label accounts give "labels" unified accounting and stats across artists, a single fulfillment interface for "merch," the ability to direct payments on a per release basis, and Pro-level status for all artists for $20 USD/month for up to 15 artists, $50 USD/month unlimited.)
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love music
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.