Today as in March and two upcoming dates, Bandcamp is highlighting buying music as a way of supporting artists. But what about artists wanting to listen, too?

There is something poetic about spending your music earnings on other artists’ Bandcamp releases. But with people out of work, losing day jobs, losing gigs, and facing new uncertainty, now is not the time for that for everybody.

In other words, I’m surprised how many people have music on Bandcamp but don’t understand the “codes” system.

Here’s how it works:

Where to find it

Bandcamp has a tutorial:

TL:DR – log in as an artist, menu on the top right (your label/artist icon will be there), Artist Tools > Track/album Codes.

You have to generate codes for a release if you haven’t already. If you’re on someone else’s label, point them to this same article and Bandcamp tutorial, and tell them to get the codes for you – it’s part of what they owe you as a label.

You can tell them I told them to say that. If they don’t like it, tell them to complain to me on Twitter @peterkirn. But I usually win arguments – fair warning.

What used to be called “download codes” is now called “track” or “album codes.” Regardless, the idea is that you give away this code to people with a unique URL for your artist page or label, and they can download your music.

How to keep track of codes

If you click export, you can save as a CSV file. You can open that in a spreadsheet like Excel, but even better is to upload to something like Google Sheets. That way, each time you give out a code, you have a record, so you don’t accidentally give out a used-up code to someone (ewww).

This is also necessary if you’re sharing codes between artists or an artist and a label.

Why use this for Bandcamp promos

There are advantages to doing it this way:

  • Codes are unique and can be used only once – unlike a Dropbox link, for instance.
  • They can choose which format they want. (WAV, FLAC, MP3, AAC, whatever.)
  • You don’t have to remember to tag your files – so later, when a DJ plays your MP3 in a mix or goes through their downloads, they’ll actually know what it was and not “Unknown Artist.”
  • If they’re logged in as a Bandcamp user, it’s added to their Collection.
  • It promotes your music on Bandcamp if they’re logged in, too, as it shows up in feeds and on your page.

And they should log in – it’s worth even reminding them! I use this all the time to keep track of music and promos.

Trade them!

Hey, we should listen to each other’s music! Otherwise, why are we in music, anyway? So trading codes is a great practice for artists, and it gets out of this constant self-promotional feeling.

Learn more about Bandcamp

Bandcamp can be confusing, but one of those tools many of us need to use as artists – as much so as our DAW or a mixer, even. So I wrote a guide for Riemann Kollektion:

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