Jack Conte, Co-Founder and CEO of Patreon
Last month I profiled Jeff Price’s Audiam and how he looks to fix YouTube’s royalty system. That’s all well and good, but even if things worked perfectly in the YouTube royalty world, creators still rely on viewers to click ads. Then for those ads to generate revenue for YouTube and, eventually, sure, the creators. Maybe.
Patreon skips the middlemen altogether and goes directly to the fans. Patreon is a Kickstarter-like service for constant creators. Instead of raising a bulk amount for one big project (like an album), Patreon is for those who create on a regular basis – like YouTubers, musicians, podcasters, bloggers and the like.
“Patrons” pledge a set amount PER CREATION. The average pledge on Patreon is $7. So if you create 3 videos a month, and a fan pledges $7 per video, you would earn $21 from that fan per month.
Jack Conte, a successful YouTuber in his own right (and one half of Pomplamoose), created Patreon because he saw the discrepancy between impact and monetary value.
“I think everyone is embarrassed about their low [YouTube] ad revenue dollars because they read stories about people getting rich off YouTube and they think ‘ugh I’m just not getting enough views. I’m just not smart enough’ And no one wants to speak out and say ‘Yo this model sucks! It doesn’t work for anybody!’ ” – Jack Conte, Co-Founder and CEO of Patreon
Conte (and his co-founder Samuel Yam) launched Patreon in 2013 and it already has built up a user base of 30,000 active patrons and 10,000 creators. Patreon.com gets 2 million page views per month.
The website lists that Patreon is for Musicians, YouTubers, Web Comics, Writers and Bloggers, Indie Gamers, Video Producers, Authors, Podcasters, Animators, Artists, Photographers and “Any creator who wants to share their work.”
Fellow YouTuber, Peter Hollens, is a singer who creates A Cappella videos and has over 558,000 YouTube subscribers. He puts out about 3 videos a month and so far makes $2,745.68 PER VIDEO.
Zach Weinersmith creates comics and books. He has 2,821 patrons and makes $7,777.61 per month.
Cara Ellison reviews video games. She makes $1,938 per article. Contrast that with the starting weekly salary of a New York Times reporter of $1,360.
There’s a woman who makes ASMR videos (which Time Magazine calls “a strange, tingly sensation, known in some corners of the Internet as a brain orgasm.”). She’s at 409 patrons and $2,859 per month.
Patreon can be used by any type of creator putting out regular content.
Unlike YouTube, Conte mentioned that the comments on these creations are 100% positive.
Creators can choose if they’d like to setup their profiles to collect per piece of content or per month. Fans can put a cap on how much they are willing to pledge per month.
Creators can offer perks and rewards (ala Kickstarter) to reward fans who pledge more, but aren’t required to. Unlike Kickstarter, all perks are digital. No breaking the bank on postage or cramping the hand signing lyric sheets.
Patreon just (today) launched the Creation Page where creators can share a direct link to each new creation (video, song, blog, podcast, etc) to their social media so fans are directed to the page with the embedded creation and a link to become a patron. The Creation Pages look very similar to Kickstarter – highlighting the perks on the right side bar.
Like Kickstarter, Patreon takes 5% (after the transaction fee of around 3%).
Following in the footsteps of other tech giants like Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt, Jack Conte is currently not taking a salary (well the others took $1). Conte says he wants to live off of Patreon as a creator. VP of Operations, Tyler Palmer mentioned that Conte comes to the team and says “Guys, we gotta change the product in this way because I rely on this and I need this as a creator.”
Musicians are putting out more music now than ever. Sure major label artists may only put out an album every 3 years, but Patreon is not for them. Patreon is for musicians and creators who put out regular content to connect with fans on an ongoing basis.
Fans will pay you for music. Ask them. Don’t make them.
Visit Patreon.com for more information and to signup
NO Ari, this doesn’t “solve YouTube” at all. Please stop apologizing for the bad guys it’s not helping anyone.
Ari, I agree with Dry Roasted, I am not impressed, it’s just another spark in the land of FREE.
Music needs disruptive change to blossom again.
We have to LOCK IT UP in virtual walls – top priority and the biggest gain for Google?
Google with current positioning can control 50% of 100B business.
Once we implement this conversion all current players will see well deserved NEW LIFE.
We can double the business to 35B in 24 months.
Additional redesign of the game board will deliver 100B industry by 2020 with all current players thriving.
Google must foresee that one PPC for 30 prostituted tunes will be less frequent than direct PPT (Pay Per Tune) in controlled environment.
Discovery moment monetization practiced by over 100K Radio stations and millions of websites converted to music stores is the way to go. 100B dollar industry at just 39 cents/tune before 2020.
Total logical fallacy that somehow making a good service for artists somehow negates the evil one.
You can keep fighting the ‘evil’ companies, while creative minds and positive thinkers make the best of the world we live in and figure out how to make it work. I have. Jack has. And thousands of others have. Is it better to bitch or to solve? Bitching is definitely more fun, I’ll give you that!
Better to know thy enemy, than to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Uh….how is a company that helps, among other things, people who put videos on YouTube make more money from them ignoring the enemy? They are still focused on YouTube.
Just got back home. Slightly drunk. Thought I’d check out a few blogs. Read this one. WHAT IS THIS SHIT???? [ (c) Greil Marcus, 1970]
“Fans will pay you for music. Ask them. Don’t make them.”
If this is the case why not just make albums and ask fans to buy them?
The traditional simple solution – WTF is wrong with it?
Because simply, that is changing, and people don’t buy music anymore. However, for centuries creators and artists relied on the patrons to support their art, and with the dying model of CD Sales and digital downloads, and the rise of streaming sites, for musicians, this is the absolute way of the future once again. If you dig around and do a little research you will see the numbers back this up. Check back here on this thread in ten years. 🙂
Listen I of course know that times are changing.
But there is still a logical paradox here.
If you agree that “Fans will pay you for music.” as per the quote from Ari’s article please carefully define for me the difference between “pay for” and “buy”..
Peter Hollens is right and I am a Patron of his. I believe since this article, he is making over $4k per video. Of course, he is immensely talented so that helps!
Steveh, the difference between “pay” and “buy” is that with the Patreon model, we fund the production of music, regardless of whether we like an individual piece or not. I am patron for a number of acts on Patreon because I support their overall objectives and (generally) like what they produce. I’m not a raving fanboy (I’m 46, so a bit old for that) – I do it out of a sense of reward for the entertainment they give me. Philanthropy mixed with appreciation, if you will.
There are PLENTY of success stories via Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, PledgeMusic, etc that shows that people DO still buy records, among other things.
Where the problem starts is when you actually look at just how many bands/artists there are selling music. It blows my mind sometimes. Seriously, literally every single musician I know in NYC is in at least 2 bands, often more plus session work. If I were to buy a $10 album from every band even just 10 people I knew were connected to, I’d be spending hundreds of dollars.
The problem, in my opinion, is less that people aren’t willing to spend money on music, it’s that people aren’t willing to spend money on music they don’t love, BUT they still want to consume a lot more than that. This is why people can still raise $20K on Kickstarter, but nobody else gives a shit. Everyone else was raising 20K for their favorite band, and then were tapped out. Percentage wise, most bands have essentially no fans. They wouldn’t make money even if every single fan bought 10 copies of their album.
Too many options spreads the money thinner and thinner.
I agree somewhat. And I want to add that nothing has changed too much since the ‘golden’ age of music only that the big record companies actually had real A&R’s that had a TALENT to pick out the best artists and bands. They would sell, because they had TALENT. Because of the internet, sites that popped up like myspace, soundcloud, facebook etc. everything became transparent and opened up a world with A LOT of music for everybody in the world to listen to. This doesn’t mean that everything is good. Just like in the golden age of music there is a lot of shit out there, the only difference is that we as a listener are the ones to pick out what we like and think that they deserve our money. Artists can still make a living out of what they do now, even without a big label to support them. The only difference is, they won’t make millions and millions anymore because the business model has changed drastically in today’s industry. We have so much choice, and this is great but the bad thing about too much choice is, that a lot of talent goes undiscovered in this big pool of fishes. The ones that do have a big corporate machine behind them are also the ones that cloud the artists with real talent, and this is a real shame.
YES! every (sub par) artist / musician / track, is taking attention away from another creator.
YouTube, Pandora, Spotify and all others with all discovery services at the user disposal are unsustainable, arrogant and naive business propositions.
Internet allows for 100 billion dollars in music revenues before 2020.
All those services in current mode prevent adequate income generation for themselves and content providers.
We are drifting to mediocre, no good for anyone 35 billion dollar global business in 2025.
Situation is actually worse, considering that all those avant-garde players will continue to shrink terrestrial Radio. It is simultaneous demolition of another industry with direct impact on music revenues.
I think Ari is a bit of a rebel who rebels against everything that is popular. His patreon is only showing their success stories and higher grosing artists om their front page. But if you actually investigate further you will dive in to a world where users earn very little. All those other thousands of patreon users that is. And, they will take 5% fee. This is more than if a musician release a song on bandcamp and sell it.
Actually BandCamp takes 15%. And Patreon launched in May 2013. Give it a minute!
Am I the only other person excited by the possibility?
I’m quite excited by this. BUT – something like this shouldn’t even have to exist – YouTube should pay out fair rates for the videos artists have created. They are making so much profit from the adwords on videos.
This is a good concept but it’s YouTube who are the thieves here.
When first saw Patreon I was reminded of Beethoven’s patrons who supported him so he could stay in Vienna.
I am liking some of Ari’s articles, but I am totally turned off by the preposterous nature of his headlines. Solved Music? Honestly?
This kind of “click bait” undermines the credibility of what are sometimes informative and well-written articles, and certainly doesn’t do any favors to the companies he highlights. Ari, you may be better than this.
It would certainly be more helpful to me (and I suspect others) if you looked at all of these companies through a lens of at least some skepticism. Sure, Patreon sounds great. But what are the downsides to it? Should we believe their own press like you are? Or will this model only work for certain types of artists and not others? What about over the longer term? Where does the patronage model go from here? Are we early or late in that game now? What are the best practices for getting the most out of these companies? Could you ask the company to introduce you to some of its biggest successes, and biggest failures so that you could gather actual data and first hand knowledge about it?
Anyway, like I said, I’m a fan of some of the work Ari is putting out here, but its so overwrought sometimes that it feels a bit throw-away and advertorial.
Hope this is taken as honest criticism and nothing more.
As a musician and publisher any competition against the majors is great.
Attacks on Ari for a headline or for making us aware are unwarranted to say the least.
The service is paying people for their content at a low commission. I want to look into it more.
I think this could have an even greater impact on the talk podcasting community than musicians. Off the top of my head I can think of way more podcasters giving me quality weekly content than musicians. Musicians, if they take advantage, have more income streams too; my dollar is more split here. At any rate I am suggesting this to all my friends who do podcasting. I can see having a monthly patronage bill as opposed to a cable or set subscription service, as I can pay for exactly what I want and stop supporting if not satisfied when I want. Musicians would have to really up their game in a big way to make this worthwhile for me personally.
I started filling out the first part, but I really would like to investigate further. It does sound intriguing, and the industry is in kind of a shambles. I haven’t really seen anything put forth as ‘the answer’, other than a uber-draconian smashdown of the ‘evil’ players (google, youtube, adsense, etc), and I still hope that happens, …continue on, I am off to do a little bit more research. I doubt things will go back to what they were when the internet, in its infancy, made it look possible for independent artists (not just touring artists, that’s just another ‘how fast can you go broke doing this thinking merch sales will pay the rent?’ game) to carve a path for themselves…until Kim Dotcom-culture took that dream and made their millions off our backs. Ari, I don’t think you’ve solved Youtube either, but you make an interesting alternative offer.
One thing not mentioned about Patreon: You will be just another one in a million. Well, not a million yet, but it will get there. Patreon may work well for artists with an established fan base that the artist can direct towards Patreon. Otherwise, you might just as well have your own obscure site offering generous patrons of the arts the gratification of supporting you, but a site with no traffic. Even if you start with a modest fan base, you have the responsibility to direct them towards your page on Patreon. Merely posting your music there is like merely creating a PayPal account — sure, anyone can send you money, but who would? An complete unknown’s page on Patreon remains unknown.
Patreon does seem to be completely video oriented? Streaming radio etc is not.
I do not watch the videos that accompany songs – particularly when listening to them for the first time, as they distract very seriously from the music.
So as a musician, I would like simply to post songs – audio tracks only. VIdeos were only ever just a marketing tool, but they seem to have become a requirement? This is to the detriment of good music – although obviously not of music that needs distractions.
I agree especially with great music streaming sites like Soundcloud available. Who wants to watch music videos all the time? Also, the creation of them just takes precious time away from creating the actual musical contents – unless you’re just holding up bits of cardboard with stuff scrawled on them…