Epic Games sells Bandcamp, just six months after employees try to unionize

The online independent music platform Bandcamp — the single best place to buy digital music, in my humble opinion! — has just laid off 16% of its staff, and announced that it had been sold from Epic Games to Songtradr, a "music licensing, sonic branding, social media, and compliance management" company that handles music "for content" and "monetization."

The news comes just 18 months after Bandcamp was acquired by Epic Games. While Epic Games is technically a privately-owned company, 40% of it is owned by Tencent, which also owns minority stakes in Spotify as well as Warner Records and Universal Records. As Rolling Stone reported in 2020:

Tencent Holdings is about to own 10 percent of Universal, which in turns owns around 3.5 percent in Spotify, which in turn owns around nine percent in Tencent Music Entertainment, which in turn is part-owned by Universal's two main rivals (Warner and Sony), but remains majority owned by Tencent Holdings, which in turn owns 9.1 percent of Spotify. (And, yes, no kidding, that's the short version.)

One year after the company was bought out by Epic Games, Bandcamp workers announced a union campaign. Two months later — in May 2023 — the company announced that the workers had indeed voted to unionize:

A majority of eligible Bandcamp workers voted 31-7 in favor of forming Bandcamp United, a union represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). The vote results now await certification by the National Labor Relations Board, with a collective bargaining process to follow.

There's been no public news about that union negotiation process — but surely something like a sale and acquisition to an entirely different entity is going to throw it for a loop. How convenient! If I were an idiot, I would think it was a big ol' wacky coincidence! Now, I'm also obliged to remind you that correlation is not causation, but still — bad look for Epic Games.

Anyway. Bandcamp Friday is next week, which is usually a day when the company waives its cut of music sales, so that the artists get to keep a higher percentage. I was hoping to finish up a new track so my band could release it just in time for Bandcamp Friday … but idunno, I'm kind of feeling shitty about it now.

Epic Games is eliminating 16% of its workforce and selling Bandcamp [Ashely Capoot / CNBC]

Layoffs at Epic [Epic Games]