I got an email via YouTube this morning informing me that Howard Pinsky of Iceflow Studios had uploaded a new video. Howard makes really cool YouTube videos about Photoshop. He’s an expert at it and so I subscribe to his feed. In his latest video he explained that because of recent changes by YouTube and other social platforms, he isn’t getting the exposure he used to, and therefore revenue is down. He then went on to explain how his subscribers could help support him directly as a content creator by becoming a Patron.
Howard explained that he had joined a new platform called Patreon, created by musician Jack Conte. Patreon is designed to help fans and followers of content creators more directly offer support by pledging $1 or $2 per video, and setting a cap on the monthly amount they pledge to their favorite artists. I thought, wow! this is an awesome idea. Jack Conte has over 650 Patrons for a total donation amount of $5,384 per video. For that much money, he can hire actors, producers, caterers, the sky’s the limit. What it really does is allow this artist the creative freedom he needs to keep creating art. As Jack puts it:
I make music in my home studio and post it on YouTube and SoundCloud for you to enjoy. No labels, no publishing companies, no intermediaries. Every dollar you pledge gives me the freedom and ability to maintain my independence and make the art that I want to make.
Like a Kickstarter Right?
Crowdsourcing for funding is not a new concept. Kickstarter has blazed a magnificent trail, giving birth to countless artistic projects in the past five years. Between April and May of 2012 Singer Songwriter Amanda Palmer famously raised over $1 million to fund a new record, art book and tour project. Patreon is different to Kickstarter because it’s not about funding one big project which requires lots of funding. It’s for bloggers, YouTubers, musicians, or artists like Howard Pinsky, anyone who creates content on a regular basis, and it could be anything really. A new song, a video, even a new recipe. Patreons can set a monthly maximum to ensure we are always within a budgeted amount. This is a good safety net. Let’s say I become a Patron of Howard’s videos and pledge $1 per video and then he pumps out 50 videos. I can say that I will fund $1 per video up to 5 videos in a month.
Encourages Deeper Engagement With Fans
Patreon provides a great platform to enable fans to support content creators and artists they love, plus it enables Patrons to become a bit closer to the creators of the content, because only Patrons can view and post comments in the content creator’s stream. Here, content creators can connect with their most loyal and supportive fans. I think this is a killer feature that many artists will reap many benefits from, beyond receiving feedback on their content, but they can identify followers and fans who are more likely to tell others about their work, and so, it can help artists and content creators get their content out to a wider audience. Patreon also enables artists to offer different levels of participation. Fans who sign up for a higher amount might be eligible for special Google Hangouts, or get access to pre-sales for concert tickets or other special events.
Step-By-Step – Creators
When you sign up for a Patreon account, the first thing you are encouraged to do is create a Vlog welcome video announcing your support of the platform and how your fans and followers can help support your content efforts, you can do this on YouTube or Vimeo. Creators are encouraged to not only provide a link to their Patreon page, but to include a vlog at the beginning or ending of their videos, and I think that’s where the real genius of this platform is. Artists are now empowered to openly and honestly tell their fans how they can help support their work. The content is still free, they are just asking for help and that that’s brilliant! The Patreon platform is enabled for Social, making it easy for fans and followers to Tweet, Post or otherwise get the word out on the artists they love and support.
The thing I really love about the idea is the grass roots element of being able to directly support a content creator. It’s the closest thing I have found online to listening to a great singer in the subway and dropping a few dollars into his guitar case.
How Do Content Creators Get Paid?
After the end-of-month charging of your Patrons, you’ll be able to access a dashboard with all the funds you received and any shipping address information if your rewards required a shipping address. You’ll know exactly who should receive what rewards, and you’ll see the funds reflected in your account right after the charge. Patreon sends payments by paypal, check, or direct deposit. Automatic monthly payments happen before the 15th of each month for accounts with over $100 in them.
What Are You Waiting For?
Do you have songs you can share with the World? Switch on your webcam, grab your guitar and go for it!