Buzz: Pimp My Bandcamp

Written by Taylor Pile Posted in: Buzz on January 31, 2012

Bandcamp is undeniably one of the top methods used for music discovery these days. In fact, many musicians have given up on a band website entirely and now have their old website URL redirect to their Bandcamp page. There are three main reasons musicians show Bandcamp so much love: 1) The analytics are basic; 2) the Bandcamp player is easily embeddable on Facebook (and many other places); 3) Your mother could probably figure out how to upload your band’s tracks. However, something your mother probably couldn’t figure out is how to create an attractive looking Bandcamp page. Throughout this article, I am going to spell out the bandcamp beautification process so meticulously that your mother will be a pro when I’m done.

What’s tricky about creating an attractive Bandcamp page, oddly enough, comes in its simplicity. Bandcamp gives you three areas to work with – the header and two sides parallel to your media player (aka your background). While these options may make it seem like your creativity is fairly limited, there are still ways to get all kinds of creative with a Bandcamp design.

Let’s go through the process using my band as an example, For Sleeping or Jumping. We may or may not suck, but one thing’s for sure -- our bandcamp sucks hard. Here is a screen shot of what it looked like before I started writing this article.

5 Quick Problems

1. There is no Header clearly stating the band’s name. It almost looks like my band’s name is “New Album Release Date TBA.” Fail.
2. We have many upcoming concerts, but none of them are listed here. Fail part 2.
3. The overall color scheme is just bad. I am not the best artist but I can tell you that the color scheme I picked does not compliment the art in any sense of the word. 
4. In our tags we have listed “For Sleeping or Jumping” and “Boston.” While they may at first seem relevant, they are not because Bandcamp automatically tags your band’s name and location. So, we wasted 2 of the 10 tags Bandcamp allows. 
5. We don't have any of our social media links posted in the right side panel.
6. Contact info is out of date. Even though you can’t see contact info in the above screen shot, this is a rookie mistake that no band should make.

Before I began to redesign FSOJ’s bandcamp, I had to take care of the above fundamentals on the homepage. I also made sure that band’s upcoming shows were registered with Songkick, which is completely exclusive with Bandcamp in posting your shows to your band’s page.

The second order of business was to re-do the band’s tags. Like I said earlier, “Boston” and “For Sleeping or Jumping” were a waste of tagline space because they are automatically assigned as long as they are listed in the right places (hometown and band name). Instead, I changed the first tag to “math-metal”, and went on to name people who worked on the record, like Ben Weinman of Dillinger Escape Plan.

After I took some steps to make our Bandcamp page functional at a basic level, it was time to start working with the aesthetics of the site itself. In order to get some inspiration, I looked through about 30 separate Bandcamp pages. Here are the ones I found interesting:

The Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens
- The band name is clearly stated at top, and album art is used in a clean, concise way. Not to mention the designer used the colors of text, links, and headers to compliment the album’s art.

Stick up Kids – Bad Rabbits
- The reason this bandcamp is pretty much perfect is due to how “clean” it is. My eyes can easily navigate the page because there isn’t much grabbing my attention besides their logo and the album art.

Multiple Albums - Caspian
- Bandcamp also gives you the option to display a home page in which you can navigate the band’s entire catalog. As you can see, Caspian did it well.

Getting Paid – Zechs Marquise
- This Bandcamp is attractive to the eye in a very different way than the Bad Rabbits’ page was. Rather than sleek and easy on the eyes, Zech Marqusie made a Bandcamp that is harsh and intense to look at, and there is no problem with that. Their music is pretty harsh and intense, so this visualization makes sense.

Choose Your Own Adventure – Maylene Todd
- Lastly, I thought it would be important to find a Bandcamp that shows how a good banner can make your entire Bandcamp look fun but also clean and professional. 

You can upload a custom banner header by clicking right at the top of the page where it says "Upload Custom Header." Since Bandcamp's design is a bit limited, you need to make sure that whatever you're using as a Header image fits their sizing spec: 975px Wide by 40-180px Tall. It accepts several different file formats for images, and can also store HTML image mapping information if you'd like to include link buttons to outside URLs (Social network buttons, or a link to your website).

After carefully viewing the previously mentioned band’s pages, I realized they all had one major component in common: All designs and arrangements complimented the band stylistically.

With that in mind I am going to use a few words to describe my band that could easily be translated into design. Harsh, dark, sporadic and loud are words I believe to fit best. When thinking about the words “harsh” and “dark,” I immediately saw black and white photography to be the perfect choice for this project. While black and white might only be two colors, messing with the contrast of a B&W photo is easy and can make things look a lot more “sporadic” and “harsh.”

As a base I am going to use this photo taken by Stephen Pile.

The colors here made it easy for me to come up with a color scheme for the media player, text, and links so it matches. You can edit these preferences in the “design” tab in the top banner.

Using the black and white timbre of the band’s Bandcamp, here is how I pimped my Bandcamp.

Check back next month when I’ll be writing an article on how to make sense of and take action on your Bandcamp analytics.

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