Impoverished artists, writers and musicians looking for their big break can now get financial backing through Patreon, an online platform that now boasts one million subscribers.
Patreon is named after the wealthy aristocrats who gave their patronage to some of the world’s most famous writers and musician such as Shakespeare, Mozart and Beethoven.
The website has signed up 50,000 creatives, while the number of users has doubled over the past year.
$100m for creatives
Unlike some websites that allow users to post creative content that offer either no financial reward or are dependent on advertising ‘page views’ (such as Facebook), Patreon only takes less than 10% of the revenue from the deal.
And it’s not chicken feed. So far, users have stumped up more than $100m to back the site’s creatives and 35 creatives have made more than $150,000 each.
San Francisco-based Patreon was co-founded by Jack Conte, who was fed up with the minimal returns he was getting for the creative videos he posted on YouTube.
After winning $2.1m backing from a group of angel investors in August 2013, Conte has now raised a further $45m in two funding rounds.
New funding model
Conte says: “The attention economy, as a financing mechanism for the creation and distribution of art on the web, sucks. It doesn’t work, and it won’t fund the next generation of creative minds.
“On Patreon, fans are paying more on a monthly basis than consumers pay for Netflix, Spotify, or Amazon Prime. And because Patreon only charges a 5% fee and minimizes credit card fees, creators take home 92% of the dollars spent. In the world of the internet creator, this minimal fee structure stands out as truly creator first, and truly unique.”
Patreon is not without competition. YouTube launched an ad-free YouTube Red subscription service in October 2016, which pays fees to creators depending on the number of views their content gets.
One thing is for certain, however – the business model is changing.