Cool New Platform For Supporting Artists: Patreon, From Jack Conte

from the nicely-done dept

I'm obviously a big fan of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, but I've always argued that it's just one of many models that content creators can use to succeed today. In fact, for a long time, I've felt that the biggest thing that was missing from Kickstarter was any sort of ongoing payment system. It's entirely project based, and thus it's not the best tool for ongoing revenue. For many years I've been interested in ideas for more ongoing revenue streams, and even proposed the idea of "subscribing" to a band's output nearly a decade ago. So it's good to see that some folks are exploring some of these ideas in much more detail.

I met Jack Conte a few years ago, after having written about him and his band Pomplamoose a few times. I'd always been impressed by Pomplamoose's ability to really connect with their fans and to build a way to support themselves via that strong connection. But in my brief interactions with Jack, it quickly became clear that he thinks deeply about different ideas for revenue models, and so it's little surprise that he's now built what seems like a pretty cool platform for ongoing support for content creators. It's basically a platform, like Kickstarter, but rather than backing a project, you back the production of certain types of regular content. So, for example, you could promise that you'll pay $5 every time Jack releases a new video (and you can put limits on how much you pay, so he doesn't get away with suddenly releasing 1,000 videos at once). It's called Patreon, and it's got a nice, simple video explaining how it works:
I'm sure some will argue that this is just a "paywall," but it's actually the opposite of that. People aren't paying you to get access to the content. The content will be available elsewhere (often for free). They're paying to support your continued production (i.e., supporting future production, rather than paying to access past productions) and they can get extra benefits (added value) as supporters, such as Google Hangouts with the creators. Some of this is quite like a few of the popular subscription options in our Techdirt Insider Shop, though rather than monthly, the amounts are triggered per creation (I'm not sure that would work for a blog like ours that produces a bunch of content every day, but I could see how it would be quite cool for less frequent types of creative endeavors).

Either way, I'm glad to see some new platforms popping up like this. For a little while, it had been getting kind of annoying to see just how many Kickstarter clones were popping up (including a new one from Donald Trump?!?). You never know, of course, if Patreon will catch on, but conceptually the model makes a lot of sense for many types of content creators. In some ways, it seems like a better model for connecting with "true fans" than something like a Kickstarter. While Kickstarter has the appeal of "this is a big event, join us!" it would be nice to see some more ongoing, sustainable model platforms become popular as well.

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    horse with no name, 23 May 2013 @ 12:30am

    paywall

    I'm sure some will argue that this is just a "paywall," but it's actually the opposite of that.

    It reads more like a failwall to me. It seems to be going against the basic grain, once again hoping a few people will pay to entertain the masses. This one is a little worse, because it appears that those who do pay will be nothing more than those who don't pay and just pick the content up online for free.

    It's nice to see someone trying to tackle the issues at hand, but I think perhaps Jack Conte confuses his personal success with one that can be rolled out and essentially franchised. He does well personally because he has the secret sauce ingredient in her personality that allows him to connect with people in ways most never can. That is what makes his things work. I don't know if that ability can be translated into this sort of system. It really requires people to get past certain boundaries to really personally like an artist and basically to pay for others to enjoy them. That is a hard sell.

    My feeling is that this will be a short term success (as all the anti-label types around sites like Techdirt) clamber to be patrons, but over time, donor fatigue sets in and the process slowly dies off.

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