Patreon: Connecting With Fans and Funding Careers

By Amanda Epstein


The music industry has been forever changed because of this glob

al pandemic. Many artists have had to turn to other sources of income since they have lost the revenue from touring. There is a website that has been around for about seven years; yet has recently seen an increase in users. Artists, not just musicians, are turning to Patreon for income and to still connect with their fans in some form. Internet personalities and authors are looking to Patreon as well.


Patreon is a platform where members can pay monthly to be a part of a community the artists are creating. Memberships can range drastically; with the lowest price being $1 a month and the highest tiers up in the hundreds. Each level is a different cost and comes with varying amounts of perks. Artists set up their own tiers for their patrons and decide what benefits come with each tier.


Some of the perks include live streams, merchandise, guitar lessons, early releases, demos, behind the scenes pictures, handwritten items, concert tickets, and more. The possibilities are only limited to the imagination of the artist. There are many times the artist will only release things on their Patreon, and nowhere else. Unreleased songs, behind the scenes videos and pictures are some things that may be available on Patreon and not anywhere else.


Most artists make their living from touring and selling merch at shows. No tours can happen right now, and the artists are suffering because of it. Their income stream has either been cut off completely or drastically cut down. While to some, this monthly contribution may not seem to be a big thing, for the artist it can mean the difference between surviving and being completely broke. Having this income each month gives a sense of security; to know that they have money coming in to keep the roof over their heads and continue creating.


Payment is collected on the first of the month via credit card entered at sign-up. Some creators can opt to do their membership on a content basix, not a monthly basis. That option allows the patrons to pay a set amount of money per piece of art from the artist. The creators receive approximately 90% of the money collected. Patreon does take their cut, but it is a small cut of the overall income.


With artists currently looking for new sources of income, this is a great platform for them. They get a monthly income and have an outlet to share their creative ideas. It also allows them to be more creative with what they share with these people. These are the diehard fans, the ones who want all the exclusive content. Patrons know things before anyone else, and in some cases they can contribute ideas and help shape things in the artists’ career.


Many artists seek to create a feeling of community among all of their patrons. They run contests, host Zoom meetings, and interact with their members during live streams. Most of the artists have a name for their fans, and that includes the Patrons. Fans can interact with each other in chats and other forms, knowing they have this musical connection. This community feeling is one of the best things to come from being a patron. It is so much more than just getting things for a monthly charge.


Another way to look at it, is like a membership into a fanclub. Fan clubs used to be the big way for artists to create small groups of diehard fans. They would charge between $40 and $100 a year, roughly. Perks would come with that membership. Over a 12 month period, that breaks down to $3-$8 per month. With Patreon averaging between $1 and $10, this is the new fan club. It is much more interactive, though.


I had the opportunity to quickly interview some independent artists about what Patreon means to them and their careers.


Raye Zaragoza is a singer/songwriter in California who is getting ready to release an album on October 23rd. Her patrons helped to fund this album, and are part of her record label called Rebel River Records.


The benefitWhat does Patreon mean to your career as an artist?

Patreon is essential to my career as an artist! Not only financially but creatively. I love having an inner community of my music that I can bounce ideas off of. Patreon also creates somewhat of a stable income for me as an artist. Every month is different, but I can pretty much rely on the consistency of my patreon.


How would your life/career be different if you weren’t on Patreon?

Oh my goodness! I don’t even want to think about it! Especially during a pandemic where I can’t tour, I don’t know what I would do without Patreon. Honestly, without Patreon, I wouldn’t be able to afford my rent and pay for all of the things one needs to launch an album. It would be a far more difficult reality for me as an artist.


There are many aspects of the platform, but in your opinion, what is the most crucial part?

My favorite part of the platform is the ability to do livestreams and embed Youtube Live. It’s really great to be able to connect with my patrons in person once a month.



What do you hope your fans get out of joining your Patreon?

I hope my fans feel that they are a part of my community. I want them to know that they are more friend than fan to me. I hope my patrons feel seen and heard. I hope they know that they are the reason I can continue making and releasing music! I LOVE MY PATRONS!



How did you learn about Patreon?

I honestly can’t remember where I heard about it initially. It just started circulating in the music industry, and I was intrigued from the start. I may have read a quote or seen an interview with the CEO, and knew that I agreed with what he stands for. But the first artist that I saw use Patreon in a way that inspired me was Eric Hutchinson. He is also a friend of mine, and he helped me get my page off the ground! I am still very inspired by Eric’s Patreon community, and I continue to learn from him.


What would you tell other artists who are contemplating joining Patreon?

I would tell them to study the pages of artists that inspire them. I would tell them to ask themselves what makes them unique, and offer benefits based on that. I would also tell them to not get discouraged at the start, and be ready for it to maybe be a slow climb. I have been on Patreon for 2 and a half years, and now have over 200 members. But the first few months I only had a handful of members. It can be a slow build but so worth it!



If you had to overcome the hesitation of asking people to spend money monthly to join, how did you do that? What would you tell artists who are hesitant because of that?

This is definitely the most difficult hurdle of joining the platform. Rather than thinking of it as asking for money, think of it as offering an exclusive experience for your core fans. Think of it as you providing a service for them. Think of it as an exchange rather than asking for money.


In your own words, what do you want people to know about the platform?

I would want people to know that is it is the future of all creative industries!!!!!! If you’re not already on there as a patron or creator - I urge you to check it out! Yay!

s of being on Patreon seem to outweigh the negative aspects. One thing that an artist may be hesitant about, is that they do not feel comfortable asking their fans for a continued monthly payment.


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I asked the same questions of Americana artist Sarah Peacock. Her newest album, Burn The Witch, is out now.


What does Patreon mean to your career as an artist?

To me, Patreon is a powerful place for me to deepen my connection with my fans. It’s an intimate platform, and the fans really get to hang out “backstage” with all the exclusive content that I’ve unvaulted just for them.


How would your life/career be different if you weren’t on Patreon?

I like to think of Patreon as my inner circle. Without that inner circle on the digital platform of Patreon, we’d probably all still be connecting on Facebook and Instagram. But, we wouldn’t have that membership connection, and there wouldn’t be any sneak peeks or exclusive content releases. Patreon just makes my life more fun and my relationship to my fans that participate more engaging.


There are many aspects of the platform, but in your opinion, what is the most crucial part?

To me it’s all the early access and exclusive content / interaction. I support other artists on Patreon, and as a patron of others that’s really what I look forward to the most.


What do you hope your fans get out of joining your Patreon?

I hope they feel more connected to me, my music, and the message. Most importantly though, I hope they feel like they belong.


How did you learn about Patreon?

I’ve been on Patreon for nearly 4 or 5 years now, but I’ve never actually focused as much effort on it as I am now. Before Patreon existed, there was a website called Patron. It was the exact same concept. Artists have been familiar with these platforms for a long time, but it takes forever for platforms like Patreon to become commonplace. The same thing happened with Kickstarter. Now practically everyone’s got an account and no one thinks twice about making a pledge on that platform. It’s familiar. We all like what’s familiar. I’m hoping that Patreon becomes familiar to the world in that same way.


What would you tell other artists who are contemplating joining Patreon?

It’s absolutely worth doing it if it’s right for you and your fan base! Go for it!


If you had to overcome the hesitation of asking people to spend money monthly to join, how did you do that? What would you tell artists who are hesitant because of that?

I think the idea of hesitating to ask people to financially support art that they infinitely benefit from beyond monetary value is an idea that does NOT align the artist with worthiness. The concept of patronizing an artist is centuries old (Mozart, Beethoven, Chopan). Only in the last 25 years has our culture started expecting music and art to be free (thanks, Napster). Music and art absolutely adds an insurmountable value to the world, and no artist should ever hesitate to receive the monthly financial support they deserve.


In your own words, what do you want people to know about the platform?

It’s awesome, it’s user friendly, it’s all about community, and it helps the artists. DO IT!



If you haven’t checked out Patreon yet, take a look around. Are any of your favorite creatives on there?


www.patreon.com


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