The Internet is one of the greatest revenue generators the world has ever seen. Countless businesses have made millions of dollars changing the very nature of business itself. Creators haven’t been as fortunate. Music, books, journalism, TV and film are some of the artistic and creative fields that have seen their content devalued online. A generation of Internet users were taught they can watch movies or listen to music for free. Patreon (www.patreon.com) seeks to create opportunities for fans to support the creators they love, generating consistent revenue and greater creative freedom.
Connecting Creators With Their Fans
The concept of crowdfunding allows people to financially support projects or products. Someone has a great idea and they try to raise some amount of money to make it a reality. Patreon aims for a subscription model. Fans become patrons of their favorite creators, and agree to pay them some amount, often starting at $1, per month or “thing”. Creators offer their videos, art, music, or other creative works, to their audience of patrons.
Patreon’s focus on creatives opens a funding stream to people who produce amazing content, but haven’t been able to monetize it easily. As online advertising becomes less effective, allowing them to interact directly with fans creates a real market. Create things people like, get rewarded for that work, and repeat.
We are pleased that Patreon’s Director of Communications Mollie Starr agreed to speak with us to discuss what makes Patreon successful for both creators and patrons.
Insider Interview: Mollie Starr of Patreon
For anyone who thinks all content on the Internet can be consumed for free, why does using Patreon to give money to content creators make sense?
The Internet is not properly set up to value creators because, right now, it prioritizes clicks and views, which don’t necessarily translate to monetary value for the creator despite the amount of joy that creators bring to their fans.
Most websites rely on advertising revenue to pay creators. However, this model has proven unsustainable for the majority of creators who actually want to turn their passion into a career. Patreon CEO and co-founder Jack Conte is a musician and video creator at heart. On the main stage at TED in April (at minute 2:09), he showed how a video of his has over a million views but only generated $166. At Patreon, we know what the fan-creator membership model can achieve and we’re shaping that market opportunity. Membership means people are willing to pay specifically for what they want in the creative world, and Patreon is leading this charge.
Taking Subscription To The Next Level
In the media world, there is a lot of discussion about the death of paid advertising and the viability of paywalls. Do you think the Patreon model could eventually work for large media or news outlets?
We absolutely think that Patreon’s membership model could be successful for large media and news outlets. We know this because of the success of other subscription options, like HBO Go, Netflix, Amazon and Spotify, where people are willing to pay for top-quality creative content. Membership takes subscription to the next level because it offers creators the ability to maintain a value exchange with their fans – who are not just paying for content, but actually getting rewards, early access or even an actual relationship out of their support.
For creators who want to get started, are there some best practices for making an effective campaign that people respond to?
Patreon is great for artists who have an established following and who regularly publish content online. We always recommend thinking about what works best for your type of fan. Chapo Trap House offers their fans a straightforward one reward tier, whereas Amanda Palmer gives her fans the power to choose what kind of rewards they get (whether it’s early access to new content or a chance to win tickets to a live show). Patreon gives creators tools to customize their relationship with their fans to ensure they are offering the best and most personalized rewards to the people who make it possible for them to do what they love.
A Community of Users
It seems like Patreon is the intersection between social media and crowdfunding. How much do you focus on creating a sense of community among your users?
That’s an interesting distinction. Like social media, Patreon is about that fan+creator connection. Patreon is different than crowdfunding because our membership model is about ongoing salaries, not just one-time projects.
Patreon wouldn’t be what it is today without its community of users. Community is a strong value for Patreon, whether it is a specific creator’s fan community, or a community of creators.
Learn more at www.patreon.com.