Bandcamp’s Not Going Anywhere…

bandcamp is not going anywhereAs I sit here writing this, there’s a lot of talk on social media and elsewhere about Bandcamp’s impending demise. If you’re not familiar with the situation, Bandcamp was sold by Epic Games, who bought them from the founders about 18 months ago; they were then sold to a start up I’d never heard of called Songtradr, Google: “Songtradr is a B2B music platform that claims to facilitate brands, content creators, and digital platforms in their use of music for licensing purposes. As of 2019, Songtradr was the largest music licensing platform in the world.” As someone who uses Bandcamp quite a lot and has really benefited from it, I was surprised at how little coverage everything was getting and then Songtradr/Bandcamp busted their union; kind of a tone-deaf move in the current climate. This has sounded the current death knell for Bandcamp

But I don’t think so…. 

I rely on Bandcamp as an independent artist. It’s a wonderful tool that makes music easy to release, get paid and interact with fans of the work. There have been many such tools through the years, the last, best one, in my opinion was which was a going concern when I first got online in 1999. It was also a great resource for artists and musicians; it was the dawn of the Mp3 and the great DotCom boom; by 2003 it was all but gone. I had moved on to my own website and working with labels and distributors at that point, but I still felt like something significant was lost and grateful for the opportunities it gave me. For years after, I was skeptical about investing time and energy into another platform that could be gone with the wind; that’s why I was such a late adopter of Bandcamp. I believe I joined in 2014 after years of people telling me how great it was; I don’t regret joining.

In my musical life I have two primary release channels, Bandcamp and my digital distro, which includes Apple Music, Spotify, etc. As most of my readers know I haven’t done hard copy releases in over a decade, so digital is my only outlet. Basically, it breaks down like this:

Digital distro means good availability for anybody almost anywhere that wants to listen, but there’s next to no fan engagement and even less $$$ because of the pittance that streaming pays. Might be good for some, at scale, but it’s not a scale that about 95% of indie music artists can/will achieve.

Bandcamp, on the other hand, is an artist-first tool – They have great features for marketing, promotion, distributing/selling your music to fans, selling merch, doing live streams, etc. It’s a wonderful 1:1 tool for artist engagement and with the artists getting a fair share of $$$, it provides a nice subsidy, too, but it’s been lacking in some key areas:

  • Digital distro: Bandcamp should be tied into digital distro, like Distrokid, Tunecore, etc. In my mind, this is a significant missed opportunity. Sure, there’d be a lot of work to do and maybe it becomes a premium add-on or something and/or they take a cut of streaming royalties along with a premium fee, but to not have digital distro in-line with everything else Bandcamp does doesn’t make any sense. It’s possible this was on their roadmap before the acquisitions began. Maybe they’ll get to it.
  • Listener User Experience – Playlists weren’t an option until 15 years after Bandcamp was founded. Think about that. They had sold billions of dollars of music and probably billions and billions of tracks, but there was no great way to listen to them without organizing them on your own device. That lack of user focus is both the problem and the opportunity – Bandcamp is artist-centric. Spotify & Apple Music are user-centric. Bandcamp needs to evolve to be able to cater to the user/consumer every bit as much as the artist. A happy balance could definitely be struck. Bandcamp has the intellectual and business infrastructure to rule this domain.

And that’s why I think that Bandcamp isn’t going anywhere. 

I believe that there’s a significant opportunity with a big payout to anybody that can strike a balance serving both the artists and the consumers. From a product management and experience perspective, if each of these were to get equal attention, now then, you’d really have something. I’m talking about a balanced product roadmap that ensures the users and the artists are being served equally. Bandcamp is the darling of the indie music industry; they’ve made billions of dollars catering to that audience, they can make billions and billions of dollars if they can bridge this gap. The Epic purchase was always a head scratcher, but could Songtradr be the one who decides to move a bold agenda forward. So far, they don’t look great, but maybe they can turn that around? Maybe it’s someone else?

What I wonder, at this point, is if Bandcamp just ends up in the startup sales and acquisition churn where any number johnny-come-latelys come in with big pockets and big ideas, but no ability to execute so it just gets passed around like a joint on a Friday night until it burns down to nothing but ash. Or will somebody come in and make something happen? One thing is for sure, we indie artists are a viable and lucrative audience and we keep demonstrating that, but nobody’s been able to mainstream it. Admittedly, few have tried. I believe that Bandcamp could be on the precipice of that. Will it happen? Let’s wait and see… 

Matt Borghi, Singer/Songwriter Bandcamp Page

I’ve been trying to figure out how to promote my singer/songwriter work for, well, quite a while. I tried a bunch of pseudonyms, but maintaining all the different accounts became quite a challenge I couldn’t really keep up with. I’ve tried intermingling the ‘songs stuff’ as it’s come to be known in my marketing shorthand, with the ‘ambient stuff’, but my problem here is that when you buy something from an artist, most people want to have a sense of what they’re buying. If I bought my favorite bossa nova artist’s new recording and found out they were now doing free jazz, I might be a little bummed. At the same time, I think of artists like Miles Davis and Frank Zappa who’s style was to explore wherever they were at; there was no ‘off brand’ for them. Simpler time, maybe? Maybe.

After much fretting and hand-wringing I just decided things were irreconcilable. I’ve been a singer/songwriter since I was 13, but I made a name for myself making ambient music. I love both. I love electronic music synthesis, but my favorite instrument to play is the steel string acoustic guitar. My situation is full of dichotomies as is the case with most of us, I’d imagine. Finally, or at least this time, as every time I make a proclamation something changes or proves said proclamation moot, I decided to create a Bandcamp page for my singer/songwriter stuff and a Bandcamp page for my ambient stuff. 

So that there’s no confusion, the singer/songwriter stuff is simply called:

The other, exclusively for ambient and drones, is:

Yep. Pretty creative stuff. I’m glad I spent the better part of a decade trying to work all this out. (Insert sad face emoji here).

Now, with Spotify, Apple Music, streaming services, et. al.. things aren’t that easy, so you’re still going to have to try before you buy, but fortunately, trying things out is built into the experience. 

Here’s are my three singer/songwriter recordings, with a little bit of ambient guitar thrown in for good measure… Also, new songs and recordings are in the works.

Ambient Guitar is Dead. Long Live Ambient Guitar!!

I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what I was trying to achieve. It was one of a hundred experiments at the time and one of hundreds of thousands since. It was 1998; 25 years ago. Then, like now, I had an economy of musical gear. At that time, I hadn’t even moved to recording music with a computer yet, so armed with my old Fender Gemini acoustic guitar, a Woody Seymour Duncan pickup and a brand new Alesis Nanoverb I plugged it all into my Tascam four track recorder and began to experiment with a variety of noisy and hissy experiments. 

At some point, after a couple hours of fruitless experimentation, I set it to plate reverb and turned the effect and the mix all the way up. In seconds, I found what I was looking for.

What was I looking for? Hell if I knew, but I could try to explain it in my vocabulary of the time. I wanted to be able make music like Claude Debussy’s solo piano work, utilizing an almost chromatic dream-lime lack of a tonal center that’s just awash, ebbing and flowing, without an attack; like a piano key struck with the sustain pedal down all the way and the stroke of the key removed, or imagining the strings rising and falling as in Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. The guitar, acoustic, especially, is/was effectively a percussion instrument. What I was imagining simply wasn’t a thing; physics precluded it…  at least I thought so until this experiment.

For me, musically and artistically, this was a defining moment. My creative life is divided between before and after this discovery. I called it space guitar, then ambient guitar, but really it was a drone style of playing; a pedal note sustained while other harmonic goodies occur all from the sound hole of my acoustic guitar and into the spaciousness of the reverb. Anything was now possible. A couple years later live looping via Ableton and reliable looping pedals made whole soundworlds possible with just a guitar, imagination and a couple doodads. I went in this new direction hard. I explored sound with many guitars, effects, players, ensembles and pretty much any scenario I could imagine. 25 years later, dozens of recordings and hundreds of gigs all over the continental US came to be and I explored anything and everything that caught my fancy. 

In the last few years things have dissipated for me creatively where the guitar is concerned. At a time when there are hundreds, maybe thousands of ambient guitarists with music on Spotify and videos on YouTube there’s a lot of droney, textural and ambient music out there. To be fair, a lot of this stuff sounds the same and “ambient guitar” has gone the way of a million vaporous piano recordings that may or may not be informed by the work of Harold Budd. I have ambient drone music on nearly 24/7, in my various spaces and while I couldn’t name most of the artists I hear from the derivative lack of variance and the ephemeral nature of new music showing up, I’m glad that new voices are putting new spins on guitar and reverb. The more music that comes out, the more likely that future greats will be revealed.

For me, though, it’s becoming harder to put original, thoughtful sound into the perpetual motion machine of streaming and social media. I don’t want to release garbage just to keep momentum, to keep something out there feeding the machine. 

With all of this said in what is possibly the longest preface ever, I’m afraid I’ve reached the end of my period of exploring the ambient guitar. I’ve made this pronouncement before and like all pronouncements, no sooner do I make one and inspiration strikes. Honestly, I hope that happens. It’s really hard to look at my guitars and feel nothing but frustration at the lack of ideas for new work; the same objects that I’ve looked at for decades, played all day/night and could barely bring myself to sleep out of an anticipation of what new sounds might come the following morning. To be fair, I’ve been extremely lucky and prolific; I count those blessings. I’m reminded of an interview where Doc Watson talked about getting his first guitar and his father told him “…so that life might be a little better with it.” My life has been better having picked up the guitar and better still when I connected it to an old Alesia Nanoverb all those many years ago.

There are so many situations and aspects of sound that I want to explore and I will, just sans the guitar. The guitar is the instrument I’m most proficient on so it will be my primary instrument in any band or ensemble situations, maybe even some ambient artists will reach out with ideas and ask me to contribute (something that rarely happens) but as for ambient guitar, by myself, that will only show up on droney periods in the various ensembles I play with when I kick on one of the several reverb pedals I have on my effects board.

Ambient guitar has been really good to me.Ambient guitar is dead! Long live ambient guitar!!! 

Please enjoy my final ambient guitar longform work: Castles, originally titled “Castles Made of Sand”, an allusion to the beautiful Jimi Hendrix song of the same name that aptly reflected my feelings as I created this final work.

“And so castles made of sand
“Melts into the sea eventually”
– Jimi Hendrix

Sunset Crest Out Now on Valley View Records

Matt Borghi Ambient Guitar
Hey Friends,

I’ve got a new full length recording out: Sunset Crest. Links to Bandcamp and most major services here:

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been releasing a lot of longform works on Bandcamp and mostly “singles” on the streaming services, all of this due to the nature of how folks listen to music on these services. This varied approach to releasing music sometimes makes my head spin, but I want to try and put the music in the best possible situation to be heard, otherwise, what’s the point.

This is what makes Sunset Crest different and interesting – Sunset Crest is probably the first full-length recording of individual, shorter tracks, I’ve released in over a year and there aren’t any other full-lengths like this in the works. In fact, I would say, that Sunset Crest is, in many ways, the follow-up to Music for Meditation and Sleep – Short Forms, Vol. 1. I’ve had to stop using terms like “meditation” and “sleep” in my titles due to keywording guidelines (read: censorship), which is pretty lame, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Additionally, Valley View Records out of Australia is doing an amazing job with the sonics (mastering), artwork, promotion and the release of my work, so check out the latest, Sunset Crest:


Navi Motion Out Now on Valley View Records

It’s been a while since I’ve sent an email, but I wanted to let you know about my new release, Navi Motion –

This is the first in, what I hope, is a long and fruitful relationship with Valley View Records and Matthew Tondut. Matthew did an amazing job shepherding this release, sequencing and generally presenting a vision for the work. Benjamin Lincoln at Middle Mastering really equalized the sounds and made the collection sound great. And Clayton Popa’s excellent artwork brought the whole thing together, adding a visual that really emphasized The Expanse, Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey state of mind I was in when I created Navi Motion.

You can listen to the music here:

Apple Music

Matt Borghi – Ambient Guitar – NEW RELEASE


Ambient Guitar is Matt Borghi’s first solo recording capturing the style of performance that he’s usually only done with saxophonist, Michael Teager, as part of their Borghi | Teager duo. With Ambient Guitar, Matt Borghi’s influences are on full display, from a resonant acknowledgement of Brian Eno, in the manner of production and texture to melodic elements that fuse in Harold Budd, Robert Fripp and the late Jerry Garcia that’s particularly reminiscent of his work on the Zabriskie Point soundtrack.

Matt Borghi’s Ambient Guitar is a texturally rich, unassuming and restrained recording that highlights Matt Borghi at his musical best.

Ambient Guitar is available in a variety of formats at the links below, including: