Why The Patreon Acquisition of Subbable Is Important


A few years ago there were a few on-going, crowdfunding platforms that all had promise. Namely Flattr, Gittip, CentUp and Subbable. But only one has arisen victorious. Call it the vision. Call it the CEO. Call it the name. Whatever it was, Patreon has dwarfed the other crowd-funding services and is onto something big.

+Patreon Just Solved YouTube… And Music

It was announced today that the on-going crowd funding platform, Patreon, is acquiring it’s direct competitor Subbable. Patreon, which now has 250,000 patrons who directly support 12,000 (active) creators on an ongoing basis, was founded in 2013 by YouTuber Jack Conte. Conte and his band Pomplamoose, who were featured in a few Christmas Hyundai commercials back in 2010, have amassed over 135 MILLION views on YouTube. He created Patreon initially to help them (and other YouTubers) sustain an income. YouTube’s ad revenue is notoriously low, so Conte made a direct appeal to the fans. So far podcasters, bloggers, comic strip(pers?), meditation instructors, web series creators and musicians are being supported by their fans for content that is mostly free and available to the general public. Amanda Palmer broke yet another crowd funding record when she launched her Patreon last week. She now has over 3,700 people giving her over $28,000 per piece of content she releases. Be it a song, video, blog post, painting, anything.

+This Artist Is Making Over $25,000 Per Song

Subbable was also started in 2013 by brother YouTubers Hank and John Green, who collectively have over 451 million views and 5 million subscribers for their YouTube channels SciShow and Crash Course. Started with a similar vision in mind, it remained closed to an inner circle and never gained the traction that Patreon has. Subbable currently has 24 creators with 12,000 subscribers (patrons) who give over $1,000,000 annually. Not too shabby.

Because all 12,000 Subbable subscribers might not make their way over to Patreon initially, part of the deal is that Patreon will match every pledge for a transitioning Subabble creator for the first month to ease the transition.

The brilliant, one man jazz a-cappella band, Jacob Collier, summed up what Patreon is pretty aptly in his welcome video:

If you pledge to a creator, “in return [you] get access to the indoor community space which is the Patreon page. It’s like a hub of activity, conversation, ideas, content, exciting stuff. By becoming a patron of what I do, you are supporting me in these adventures and providing me with enough resources to keep going. “

Managers are always wondering how to make more money for their bands – of ANY level. Patreon should be part of the equation.

This isn’t instead of. It’s in addition to. Modern day musicians need multiple streams of revenue. It’s not just about tour revenue or record sales or sponsorships anymore. Today, musicians, especially independents, need to explore every revenue generating possibility.

A Nielsen study from 2013 revealed that fans would spend up to $2.6 billion MORE a year for exclusive content and behind the scenes access. This means that managers are failing at providing enough monetization opportunities for fans. And in effect, not doing their job of making the most amount of money for their artists as possible.

You think Kickstarter won the crowd funding vertical? Patreon is Crowdfunding 2.0 and will break mainstream in the next few years. It is the new artist economy.

Read more about the acquisition here. 


Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

13 Responses

  1. FarePlay

    Although it makes perfect sense, given their business relationship with youtube/Google, Patreon’s president’s joining the board of FOMC, may cause some problems with indie artists.

    “It’s hard to be a saint in the city.”

    • Anonymous

      Patreon is actually just perfect Major Label breeding ground, cover after cover after cover after cover, and those guys they just love those cover people, even more if they have a face and extroverted personality and love attention… So that would make some sense…

  2. There is something...

    I have nothing against Patreon (in fact, I think it’s a nice addition to an artist monetization set of tools), but it looks more and more like sponsored content here… Unfortunately.

    Also, I wish that all those “creators” in the music section actually create songs rather than doing cover after cover… I don’t want Patreon to carry a “cover band gathering” image if I plan to use it for original content.

    • Anonymous

      That would be preferred and what I thought Patreon was designed for, however since most are youtubers and Patreon uses youtube, their only chance of generating money and attention is by doing covers of famous and popular songs and then titling and tagging in hopes of catching some views through searches and suggestions, the industry ikes this as theyll get some cake, and the industry also loves the pay it forward thus giving these cover players a better shot at a record deal or any help then any original creator…

      is what it is…

        • Anonymous

          And I always thought great songwriting was the key to making it.

          Meaning for those that are crafting the true original awesomeness and not doing the SEO fame name fame cover cover game, you look to the top of the charts every day and then spend all your time copying the big hits through ways of extreme similarity all because you hope data and information and stats will lead you to crafting the next big hit because what gets to the charts is and always has been only those great written songs, which then got there through pure means of amazing ethics and straight up honest cream rises and no other means, thus chasing their own tails, causing another one moment of singularity akin to a moores law timeline, where all music will eventually sound the same like identical, chasing their own tail around and around and around and around until they start spinning so fast they begin digging a crater in the earth and the next thing you know they pop out at China selling cheap throwaway plastic trinkets from their lemonade stand, to toddlers while wearing a cartoon suit looking like a mascot from a baseball game selling hotdogs…?

          And anyone doing anything else or saying anything about it gets treated like a violent extremist enemy hostile terrorist evil villain of gargantuan kinds worse then all of mankind has ever seen …

          That kind of great songwriting?


      • There is something...

        Have some covers and using SEO smartly to make some “buzz” is not a bad thing. You have to start somewhere and when your repertory isn’t too big, having some good covers can definitely help. But all those “artists” producing almost cover songs only are not the future of music. I know that “covers” are trendy now: you have all those Youtubers, TV shows like “The Voice”. But if you’re a real artist and not just a karaoke freak, you need to think about “what’s next”, when people will get tired of that 5839th a cappella cover band…

        • Anonymous

          Have some covers and using SEO smartly to make some “buzz” is not a bad thing. You have to start somewhere and when your repertory isn’t too big, having some good covers can definitely help. But all those “artists” producing almost cover songs only are not the future of music. I know that “covers” are trendy now: you have all those Youtubers, TV shows like “The Voice”. But if you’re a real artist and not just a karaoke freak, you need to think about “what’s next”, when people will get tired of that 5839th a cappella cover band…

          The way it all seems to be operating and playing out, they are the future of music, they are the only ones getting any deals and shots anywhere to a point it might make a career…

          Buddy who won the voice toiled in unknown mediocrity struggling near zero forever and without the voice just make up covered standing there doing nothing while singing someone else’s song, he would have had no career in music, as the music business would define a career anyways, they like to do that… That got him the deal and the fame and then theyll milk that cow until its wide eyed on the ground moaning and screaming to be put out of its misery, thats just the nature of the beast…

          I’m not convinced people will tire of it, you don’t need to trick all the people all the time, and the malleable little human brain is so easily manipulated by things, and with the busyness of life and the sheer amount of noise everywhere, its impossible to maintain focus on the manipulation being done to us all the time, therefore its very easy just to forget about it and continue to be manipulate by things, one of those is things we remember, and thats why cover songs and sampling are always good and always a safe bet, not to mention you not only call on older listeners who will remember the original, you tap into new markets and new demographics who may never have heard the original, and with the social media and toddler game public show music has become, well i see the cover being the only way to fondle those men and suits enough to maybe eek out some help and a possible deal, else you are couch surfing ramen noodle eating 366 day a year touring, on your own dime for years to decades to ever, in hopes you can convene enough fans that some business will want to sell and market to them, your music or your care of music be damned…

          Doesn’t give you much leverage either, then you are just fondling some old mens testicles while clawing and scratching at the door for some handout and a team of producers and writers and marketers all to determine who you will be and what you will say, so if you just want to be on some label and pushed to the show everywhere and all famous getting attention not caring about music just being that product pushing fresh superstar deity who tells toddlers, tweens, teens and the world how good cheerios are for us with a big smiley face, then of course, thats a great way to get the buzz up and convene some i guess you can say fans to the point a label will look at the momentum and the potential fans to sell and market to, and you might get a weighted shoddy deal out of it for some short erm quarterly coffer filling, where you can be a face for the family, or whatever they are on these days…

          Its all backwards now, music is the foundation, without the foundation no house exists, they are making the music last instead of first, the music now for almost everyone, whether making it to the stats on a spreadsheet or whether you are looking at what covers or seo or search tactics might work, or what littl social media app might get you noticed, where making a cover of someone famous might get you enough of a boost in attention a business can leverage that for profit somewhere, so instead of digging a hole and putting in a solid foundation and then building a solidly constructed well thought out house and worrying about how to sell it afterwards, most people in music find their way to sell or market and then construct to that, the music be damned…

          Case in point the next super banger is taking over Vine, made my some super duper star deity magician of epic awesomeness, a god of creation likely soon to have a deal and hit the show all over the place having the first lady doing some new dance for all the toddlers… That is music business 101, drop the music and focus on the business and marketing…

          Of course theres nothing wrong with that, most people just dont care that much about music, so fun happy or weird quirky or simple songs that make them want to dance, or more and more songs and videos the cynical work populace can piss all over, are more likely to get an artist ahead…

          • There is something...

            For most people, covers will not take you farther than the initial buzz. Even if you win “The Voice”, you’ll need to have decent original stuff soon. That’s why most of those TV contests winners vanish as soon as the show has ended. Only an handful made a real career out of it.

            You get some fame on Youtube, then what’s next ? Release the song ? Original writers and publishers will get all the cash. Same if you get placements. So you can tour: Pomplamoose doesn’t seem to make much money out of touring. And I doubt that most Youtubers have what it takes to creat the next Patreon and make cash out of it.

            So I keep thinking that “covers” are not the future if you want to make a career. Well, except if you want to be a wedding cover band or something like that. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s a different story imho.

      • Anonymous

        Ari’s on the Take

        Gotta pay the bills somehow, so good for him…

    • Sarah

      Hey, I agree with your position on Patreon – nice concept but it doesn’t feel right for professional artists. Would love to have you check out repx and hear what you think about the way we incorporate artist support directly into the media platform. Our goal is to make spontaneous donations (“wow that was amazing, I should tip them” totally effortless and part of the experience.

      We’re talking to artists and giving demos now at repx.net.

  3. Blastjacket

    Unfortunately has no scale to be in the VC business. Investors will eventually get nervous and look for exit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Verify Your Humanity *