The first steps to promoting your music on Bandcamp

The first steps to promoting your music on Bandcamp.jpg

Often overlooked by artists and record labels, these crucial first steps are critical in effectively promoting your music on Bandcamp.

The steps are to set a band up so that their music is tagged and found in the Discover platform. Bandcamp Discover is where the best-selling albums, new arrivals, and artist-recommended show-up.

The strategy works no matter how long you have had an album up on Bandcamp. Even for new releases and pre-sale albums. 

It’s amazing how many bands don’t know how to properly set up their tagging so that they have the opportunity to show up in the best-selling section. The coveted area of Bandcamp has very specific requirements for an artist to place in as many categories as possible.

If you don’t use the exact steps you will be left out of categories, even if you are the best-selling album. Attention, it’s not always the best-selling album that pops up, but rather the album that is the best selling within the proper tags. 

With so many options to use for tagging your music, the margin of error is substantial. By failing to recognize what keywords will connect you to your fan base, an album is lost and unsearchable by users looking for new music.  A complete understanding of the Bandcamp community, algorithm, and musical sub-genres is needed to position your album effectively. You need to play by the rules of the Bandcamp algorithms to maximize your exposure potential. 

The entire strategy of setting up an album to perform it’s best on Bandcamp revolves around a building a keyword roadmap.

The following steps show how to set your music album for the best possible Bandcamp promotion position.

Make sure you do this from a desktop, laptop, or large tablet. Smartphones don’t show the Bandcamp Discover area the same way unless you download the Bandcamp App. 

Take the time to study and experience the Bandcamp Discover area. Play around with the different genres and sub-genres. Get an understanding of how a user is experiencing the Discover area. 

What attracts you? What compels you to make selections? Comprehending the User Experience is vital for building your keyword strategy on Bandcamp.

Before thinking about what to tag your music with, step aside from your music and become a listener on Bandcamp. If you're going to do your best on a platform, you need to have expert knowledge of user behavior. Most bands are too anxious to take the time to understand Bandcamp from a listeners perspective. 

1. Picking your main music genre and sub-genres to promote on Bandcamp

It may seem simple to pick a Main Genre, and for some bands it is, but for many artists, you can't choose a Main Genre until you fully understand the Sub-Genres and their relationship to the Main Genre. For example, you might think you fit in the Acoustic Main Genre, but the fans most likely to engage with your music are searching under the Main Genre of Folk.

Over 99% of Bands fail to qualify for the Discover Sub-Genres that they tag themselves with because they choose the wrong Main Genre.

You can change your artist genres by logging into your Bandcamp artist account and visiting the Artist Profile page. You find it by selecting Profile under your band name. Once on the Artist Profile page, you can choose the genre and sub-genres, but you don't want to change anything until you have a solid keyword strategy in place backed by data.

For many bands picking the Main Genre requires extensive research into the Bandcamp community profiles. When we began harnessing the Bandcamp algorithm, we built a large catalog of buyer personas on Bandcamp. We broke down music Genres and Sub-Genres and related them to profiles.

After hours, and hours, and more hours we eventually had the expert knowledge required to confirm what music will perform best with what keywords. Our database helped direct us towards the community waiting to hear specific demographics of music.

Bandcamp's algorithm does not let you qualify for multiple Main Genre categories. 

This means that if you put yourself in the Main genre of POP and then tagged yourself with alternative, shoegaze, chillout, downtempo, instrumental you would NOT show up in any of those tags as a best-seller. That’s because even though those tag choices are Sub-Genres in the Bandcamp Discover platform, they are not in the main category of POP. 

So the only place your music would qualify for in the Discover platform is in the Main Genre of POP. This stinks because you are missing out on all the passive opportunities and free placement within Bandcamp.

Before we leveraged the Bandcamp algorithms in our favor, we had sold only two albums. Once we built out a detailed keyword strategy, we reached the #3 Best-selling Indie Folk album on Bandcamp and went from 68 plays on Spotify one month, to just over 100,000 plays the following month. Read our case study.

This blog is NOT about promising you that every album will become recognized by building out a Bandcamp Keyword Strategy. We are here to inform you that a tagging roadmap for your record secures that you will perform your very best on Bandcamp.

Some of you can use the tips in this article to set-up your keyword strategy but if you don't have the time to research and develop a proven tagging method we can help you for as low as $96

The albums we have worked with are getting maximum exposure by leveraging the Bandcamp community in favor of the band.

Bandcamp Artist Profile for Tagging

Bandcamp Discover Platform on Smartphone

Bandcamp Discover Platform on desktop, laptop and tablet

2. Picking a city from the Bandcamp Discover options to promote your music

Next, you need to maximize the opportunities by choosing a location from the options that Bandcamp gives you in the Discover area. 

Unfortunately, only a handful of cities, are in the Discover. If you can place yourself in one of these cities, it can also do a lot for you.

We have had gig opportunities for the albums we are promoting through keyword strategy. Booking agents, local press, and other bands wanting to share gigs, look in the city area of Discover. Being featured in the Discover best-selling album section for a particular city brings local notoriety!

Most of the time it’s easier to be a best-selling artist from a major city than to be one from the whole world. Targeting one of the city options will help build a local following!

When we were promoting a folk album, we first became the best-selling folk album for the city of Seattle. We then used that to generate more interest. Having the #1 best-selling folk album for Seattle gained us more attention. 

Now for some of you the city choices might be too far away, but don’t be afraid to stretch it a bit. The folk album we tagged for Seattle was a band that lived a six hour drive away. Targeting a major market like Seattle is better for exposure and brings better credibility. 

If you currently have little to no fan base we recommend tagging your profile with a city form the Bandcamp Discover list, so that you can start to target a local demographic that is relevant on the Discover platform.

To change your artist location visit the profile page in Bandcamp. 


City specific search in Bandcamp Discover area


3. Make sure the artwork you use to promote your music on Bandcamp will work

Often people will be on a smartphone when they see your artwork. And they will be provoked to push play or not by the image they see. 

Far too often artists design an album cover that only looks good at larger sizes. Remember to create it so that it will inspire someone to want to press it and engage with the music, even when seen on a small screen.

It can be hard to stay disciplined and keep the design functional in serving the purpose of driving interaction. At Raven Guide, we do a few designs for an album and then A/B test them to see which one performs better. Oddly enough, it’s not always the one that people like the most, but rather the one they want to push or click. When picking an album cover that will engage digitally think about making something that plays on one of these emotions; curiosity, funny, odd, beautiful, haunting, or even ugly. The key is to hit on an emotion that connects to the target demographic.


Learn how an album with no fanbase found a home

From nowhere to #3 Best-Selling Indie Folk Album
Over 100,000 plays on Spotify in the first 30 days