Bandcamp United, the staff union recently organized and Bandcamp, is sending out a petition to see that the union is recognized by the company’s new owners, Songtradr. They also describe some alarming conditions at outgoing owner Epic, with a threat of job losses looming and workers locked out of systems – just as October’s Bandcamp Friday is about to arrive.
I’ve asked Bandcamp United for comment; I can’t verify the accuracy of these reports. But in an emailed call to action, Bandcamp United describes a chaotic current scene at the company while still under Epic’s outgoing ownership:
In an internal announcement to staff, Epic Games wrote that Songtradr, Inc. would be offering positions to some Bandcamp employees but not all. This comes amidst ongoing contract negotiations with our staff union – Bandcamp United.
Our union has yet to hear from Songtradr CEO Paul Wiltshire. Instead, Bandcamp’s future has been thrown into uncertainty: most Bandcamp workers have had critical systems access revoked by Epic Management and have been unable to do our jobs.
Caitlin Harrington has more reports (and some named sources) from inside Bandcamp that confirm some of the turmoil Bandcamp United describes. Writing on X:
Recall that while workers approved the union, negotiations were ongoing with Epic. Those negotiations would now have to move to the new management, Songtradr.
Epic, for their part, had separately promised six-month severance and six-month healthcare for workers, at least in the announcement from their CEO. In the petition, Bandcamp United calls for employment offers and “equitable, voluntary” severance for all workers, union recognition, and ongoing negotiations. From the call to action:
- Employment offers for all workers and reasonable time to respond to offers
- Clear, consistent, and equitable voluntary severance offers
- Recognition of our union at Songtradr with a speedy continuation to bargaining while maintaining all the progress that has been made at the table — including Union Security and preserving our artists first mission
Or, as the petition puts it:
I support Bandcamp workers in calling for Paul Wiltshire to recognize the existing union, offer employment to all Bandcamp employees, and continue bargaining in good faith. Workers make Bandcamp the beloved platform it is today, and Bandcamp will not be the same unless workers are valued and their rights to a seat at the table are upheld at this moment.
Bandcamp United is encouraging folks to sign the petition:
Bandcamp United official site
If Bandcamp’s union were to be broken up in the process, there would be implications far beyond just Bandcamp. Part of what was encouraging about Bandcamp United from a collective bargaining standpoint was that it brought together engineers, managers, designers, and journalists in a single bargaining unit. It’s also part of a strong and storied existing union, the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 1010 – and at a time when support for unionization in the USA is at a historic high point.
Updated: Songtradr has responded to CDM with a statement.
We have received Bandcamp United’s letter and are reviewing it. Supporting the Bandcamp community will be our number one priority once the purchase is completed.
Songtradr does not own or control Bandcamp yet. We are in the process of acquiring Bandcamp from Epic Games, and we expect the transaction to close within the next few weeks. Epic has committed to running Bandcamp Friday as planned and will ensure Bandcamp can continue to operate and support artists through this transition.
Not all Bandcamp employees will receive offers from Songtradr. Based on its current financials, Bandcamp requires some adjustments to ensure a sustainable and healthy company that can serve its community of artists and fans long into the future. Those that don’t receive offers within the next few weeks will receive severance from Epic as part of their layoffs as communicated on September 28th.
We will work towards a fair and equitable outcome for the global members of the Bandcamp team.
Songtradr is planning to keep all the existing Bandcamp services that fans and artists love including Bandcamp Friday’s, Bandcamp Daily and its artist-first revenue share.
Bandcamp United has written on X that they’re still waiting for the union to be recognized, which is missing in this statement.
Future of Music Coalition has also responded:
I hope to talk to Songtradr soon in more detail about both Bandcamp (at least once the acquisition settles) and their larger strategy for music producers. They’ve been active lately, including acquiring 7digital earlier this year. And if there’s further word from Bandcamp United, either to CDM or in their statements, I’ll be sure to share.
About the Bandcamp acquisition:
Songtradr acquires Bandcamp [Songtradr press release]
I’ve written about that acquisition:
And about Bandcamp unionizing efforts: