Bandcamp union describes workers locked out of systems, layoff threats

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:

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. 

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, though here it sounds as though that may still be actively being negotiated with the OPEIU local union. In the petition, Bandcamp United calls both for employment offers and “equitable, voluntary” severance for all workers, recognition of the union, 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.

I hope to talk to Songtradr separately, about the Bandcamp acquisition but also their larger strategy for music producers. They’ve been actively lately, including acquiring 7digital earlier this year.

About the Bandcamp acquisition:

Songtradr acquires Bandcamp [Songtradr press release]

I’ve written about that acquisition:

And about Bandcamp unioninizing efforts:

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