Image by Penningtron – not this Topspin, although it looks good too!

Bob Lefsetz has been writing about the differences between Bandcamp and Topspin and whether one or the other is better for artists to use to run their direct-to-fan activity.

It was inspired by this great article on Bandcamp in the LA Times. But, in asking the question Bob drew praise and negativity about both platforms into his Twitter stream and inbox. Which you can see in the article here – Bob’s article on Topspin vs Bandcamp.

Cathy Pellow of Sargent House tweeted this:

@Lefsetz this is what i think of @Bandcamp – been on their since early days. Topspin is too expensive.

Ian Rogers of Topspin responded thusly:

@sargenthouse Actually we’re not more expensive than Bandcamp. Give me a call to discuss. /cc @Lefsetz

And in response to Tim Luckow’s tweet:

@Lefsetz With Bandcamp there’s no need to use Topspin.

Ian said this:

@TimLuckow I respectfully disagree, there are many features in Topspin which they don’t offer. Our March launch will show ‘em off. @Lefsetz

So, what do we think? Well, I think he’s missed the real issue a bit!

I have way, way more experience with Topspin than I do with Bandcamp and I love it. It has some annoying limitations – particularly in postage handling for physical sales! – and is a bit buggy. BUT, it FULLY integrates your media (music, videos, products) with email, and (to an extent) facebook and Twitter – and for me that makes it the killer app.

Bandcamp is awesome – simple and very slick. It will collect email, but not in the same software suite with linked data – and that, for me, is a major flaw.

In Topspin, you can see your fans individually, which emails they’ve clicked, how much they’ve spent, what tracks they’ve downloaded – all in one place.

I think Topspin will dominate the space for commercially successful artists and labels who want the simple solution. The technical shortcomings of Bandcamp in a few areas will be overcome – they’ll add to it. Or, if you are a bit tech-y you can add interoperability easily enough.

Don’t dismiss Bandcamp! We have paired it with Aweber which works fine for the email side but it’s just a bit more effort.

A key factor in deciding is that we have found that all the artists that we do it with want the centralised one-stop simple solution. Game over.

But there’s another option that just doesn’t have the muscle that Topspin has, but actually is very close in concept and execution and will grow with any artist – Nimbit. Well worth a look.

Given the option though, I go for Topspin for direct-to fan – including email list management and Believe Digital for digital distribution – but that’s a different story!