Since Songtradr bought Bandcamp from Epic Games, it has laid off 58 employees.
The eyebrows of independent musicians across the globe raised in unison when Epic Games sold Bandcamp to music licensing company Songtradr just over a month ago. The new parent company fired 58 of the download store’s employees — roughly half of its staff — prompting Bandcamp United to file an National Labor Relations Board claim against it.
The union formed in May to represent Bandcamp employees alleges violation of the National Labor Relations Act established in 1935. According to a press release cited by The Fader, Songtradr executed the layoffs four days after Bandcamp United met with CEO Paul Wiltshire to “discuss the future of Bandcamp United at Songtradr.” Among them were three of the six staff members responsible for its editorial arm, Bandcamp Daily.
“We continue to fight for the future of Bandcamp but it is incredibly disappointing to see Epic and Songtradr discard that work, and our team’s democratically elected leaders,” reads a statement by Bandcamp United bargaining team member Ed Blair.
“As sudden and painful as this rupture has been, it is very much in keeping with the state of the tech industry right now,” added a joint statement by the entire bargaining team. “As the face of the unit, in our meetings with Epic Games management, we were looking forward to ratifying our contract and securing a better Bandcamp for workers and artists alike.“
Bandcamp was founded by Ethan Diamond in 2007 and grew popular by allowing music and merch sellers to set their own prices. The platform’s artists-first guiding philosophy carried on through the pandemic, when it began hosting “no-fee holidays” in which users got to keep 100% of all sales earned on that day. Epic Games bought Bandcamp in March 2022 and sold it to Songtradr at the end of this past September.
Bandcamp United is demanding employment offers, voluntary severance offers, and Songtradr’s recognition of their union “with a speedy continuation to bargaining.”