Up Close: Patreon



Founded by a Creator, With Creators in Mind: In 2013, musician Jack Conte was like millions of indie musicians, looking for a way to make a living from his popular YouTube videos. Teaming with his college roommate Sam Yam, co-founder of Adwhirl (a mobile ad platform that optimized revenues for publishers) Conte developed Patreon, a platform that allows “patrons” to pay a set amount of money every time an artist creates a work of art. Their founding philosophy is simple: “Founded by a creator with creators in mind. We make every decision with one goal in mind—to get creators paid.” Currently, there are over 200,000 creators from all disciplines (musical artists, podcasters, video directors, visual artists, writers, journalists, gaming creators, etc.), generating content and art consumed by 6 million+ monthly active patrons/subscribers. In seven years, Patreon has paid out over two billion dollars to its creators.

The Tools: Driven by the concept that “We only succeed when you succeed,” Patreon has three plans. Lite provides simple tools to set up recurring support from your fans, costing 5% of the monthly income creators generate. The Pro Plan offers “everything you need to build a thriving membership business that provides meaningful income for you and a rewarding experience for your biggest fans” (cost: 8% of monthly income). The Premium Plan includes “dedicated coaching and support for established creators and creative businesses, plus premium features that save time and reward your patrons” (cost: 12% of monthly income). Patreon takes care of recurring billings, helps recover failed payments and fraud protection, with flexible processing fees.

Statement from Creative Partnerships Manager Tom McNeill: “What makes Patreon unique from typical crowdfunding services—and is largely responsible for our intuitive, organic and rapid growth—is that it’s a company founded by an artist. One of our key pillars is creative independence, creating content not to fit the shape of an algorithm but to fulfill the user’s creative ambitions by creating exclusive items and content that they and their fans will enjoy. It’s all about having the tools to build that artist-fan relationship. For example, our Merch service takes the merch production and mailing burden away from the artist. Patreon’s other tools offer creators an endless digital space sandbox for creating exclusive content and however they choose to engage their patrons. It allows dedicated superfans not only access to unique content and cool tangential experiences like virtual green rooms and meet and greets, but also a deeper understanding of their favorite artist’s overall creative process.”

Examples of Unique Artist Offerings: The Mexican rock band The Warning offers professionally edited HD live shows that allow fans to experience the band’s visceral energy—a truly necessary part of staying in touch with a band during the pandemic. Atlanta based indie band Manchester Orchestra created a podcast where they did a monthly deconstruction of songs from their album Simple Math. Multi-genre artist Jacob Collier has offered first access listening parties for his albums and breakdowns of his Logic Sessions. Chicago rapper Noname used part of her platform to develop a book club.

Contact Sibei Mi, [email protected]