Monday, April 30, 2018

Patreon. How to drive the money from content down to the creators.

It's an age old problem. If you are creative, and that's what motivates you, how do you do what you love and still pay the bills?

Like Jack Conte, the creator of Patreon says, patronage has been around for centuries. Mozart, Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, they were all supported by patrons who funded their art.

In these days of multi media, social media, subscription media, and just more and more outlets delivering content, it's hard to discover new talent through the avalanche of media. As a new artist, musician, writer, or craftsman, it's hard to gain traction and gather a following.

Even if you do make a name for yourself, and people like your work, it's hard to make a living when most platforms are free. Pretty much everyone under thirty has been raised on free music, podcasts, and even pirated PDFs of books.

What about journalists? Newspapers are closing or cutting staff every day as they struggle to pay for paper, ink, rent and salaries. If you're a really hard working, fair journalists, and your newspaper is going under, or you're tired of writing more and more pieces for the same or less money, what do you do? Could a patronage model save even journalism? Maybe.

So how does it Patreon work?

Pretty simple really. You find bands, artists, writers, or video makers and pledge them a certain amount per month. As little as a dollar a month makes you a Patron. Some of the artists allow different monthly pledge levels to unlock more access or special offers. You can change or stop your pledges any time you want. There's no long term commitment. 

You help support what you think has value, what you think has worth. In a world where Nicki Minaj sold over ten million albums last year, and thousands of talented artists went back to work at Footlocker and FedEx because they ran out of gas money, it seems we could do a bit better with a new model.

What if you found a killer new band that played at a club and you wanted to support them. If they have a Patreon page, you can pledge them $1 a month. By itself, it's nothing. But if they got ten people to pledge a dollar a month at every show they played, and maybe a few folks who pledged five or ten dollars a month, that would add up fast. If you're not very good, or you don't connect with people, this will not work. If you're passionate about what you produce, and you connect with folks, you could have a steady stream of money coming in every month.

If that band or that writer, or podcaster hasn't put out content in a while, you may drop them. Maybe you found someone you like better. It's the free market at its purest form.

What about a writer? Do you write daily/weekly/monthly pieces? Easy enough to get people to pledge per piece or just monthly. What if you are writing a novel? How could that work? Maybe post your rough outline or your first chapter and ask for support to help while you complete your work. Give them updates and let them know how it's going.

I know I eat out too often. It's easy for me to blow $20 on coffee, lunch and snack in a day. What if I found four or five cool people who were chasing their dreams and I supported them? How cool would it be if a couple of your friends did too?

What if we could move the money from marketers and content platforms down to the creators? What if we could change the game, and make more dreams come true, one dollar at a time?