Half of Bandcamp’s 120-person staff laid off following second sale in 18 months

Indie music hub Bandcamp has laid off half of its employees, less than a month after the announcement that music licensing company Songtradr had purchased the platform from video game publisher Epic Games.

Founded in 2008, Bandcamp is beloved by musicians for its artist-friendly revenue sharing and active fan community. In March 2020, the company launched Bandcamp Friday, which gives artists 100% of profits for sales occurring on the first Friday of every month. Bandcamp Daily, the company’s music blog, spotlighted curated new releases and offered features on emerging, independent artists. A number of the site’s writers and editors shared news of their dismissal on X (formerly known as Twitter).

“I had 3 years of having my dream job helping artists make records and making vinyl more accessible,” said Ava Mirzadegan, a former Bandcamp vinyl representative, in a post. “I’m proud of myself for getting here even if all ended like this.”

“Unsurprisingly there has been no humanity extended in this process. Our union will prosper though,” wrote Atoosa Moinzadeh.

Bandcamp had operated as an independent company until Epic Games acquired it in 2022. On Sept. 28, Epic Games laid off about 830 employees, or 16% of its staff, and announced it had sold Bandcamp to Songtradr. In an internal email announcing the sale, Epic Games said Songtradr would offer positions to some, but not all, Bandcamp employees.

Jordan Opre, 27, a Bandcamp support specialist based in Seal Beach, said when he and other workers received the internal announcement of the sale, they were caught off guard.

“I think overall the collective reaction has been surprised,” Opre said in an interview a few days after the sale was announced. “There’s just a lot of uncertainty. There hasn’t been clear or definite communication in terms of who’s getting laid off.”

The Bandcamp staff reductions were part of the September layoffs initiated by Epic Games. A representative for Songtradr told The Times that 60 of Bandcamp’s 118 employees were offered the opportunity to retain their position, and that 58 workers had accepted.

Additionally, the representative told The Times 50% of the core editorial staff would remain on board.

“Over the past few years the operating costs of Bandcamp have significantly increased,” said the Songtradr representative. “It required some adjustments to ensure a sustainable and healthy company that can serve its community of artists and fans.”

Bandcamp United, a union represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union, formed soon after the sale to Epic Games, as the acquisition sparked internal worries around Bandcamp’s future.

The union was recognized in May 2023 and had begun negotiating its first collective bargaining agreement with Epic in August.

“[Bargaining with Epic Games] was actually going all right, compared to some other places we’ve been bargaining with,” said Sandy Pope, OPEIU bargaining director. “It makes you wonder if they knew something was coming and decided it wasn’t worth putting up a big fight. You can’t sell a company overnight.”

Songtradr has not officially recognized the Bandcamp United union, which had been demanding Songtradr extend an offer to all employees and provide severance packages to those who declined to stay on board. Because the transaction was an asset sale, Songtradr had no legal requirement to retain employees or recognize the union.

After initial messaging from Songtradr stressed that it would remain “business as usual” in the wake of the sale, however, Pope expressed a feeling of betrayal.

“We got the email from [Songtradr CEO] Paul Wiltshire, saying they intended to keep everything the same, but then you get rid of the people who do the creative and who started it?” she said. “People loved working for Bandcamp. They were gutted by the news today.”