How to make money with your music: Patreon

We are back with a new chapter of our series “How to make money with your music“. So far we’ve covered royalties, SoundCloud’s monetisation possibilities and how Content ID works on YouTube. Today we’re talking about Patreon, a platform designed by and for creators whose aim is to make their art worthwhile. How, you may ask. Quite simply, by implementing a subscription system funded by the fans themselves. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s first find out how Patreon came about. 

How and why was Patreon born?

To find the birth of Patreon we must transport ourselves to the year 2013. It was then that musician Jack Conte had the idea that would eventually materialise in its creation. The artist was experiencing a deep professional frustration. He did not understand how, despite the great success of his YouTube videos, his earnings were so meagre. He had a sizeable and supportive audience, but he was far from being able to make a living from his music. A situation that led him to think that perhaps other models could work better. The fact that these models did not yet exist as such did not discourage him, quite the contrary: it prompted him to create his own.

A platform that would act as an intermediary between artists and fans, and where the audience could directly fund the creators’ creative work. That’s when Patreon co-founder Sam Yam came on the scene. Jack Conte’s former roommate at Stanford University and a tech developer.

Since then Patreon has experienced unprecedented growth with no signs of dying out. It is currently valued at 4 billion dollars. It has 7 million patrons and 200,000 content creators for whom it generates more than $100 million a month. In addition, its international deployment is increasingly strong. 

How does Patreon work? 

The main economic problem faced by artists, and content creators in general, is the lack of a sustainable and regular source of income. A precarious situation to which Patreon wants to provide a solution through its system. 

To explain it very simply, we could say that its operation is similar to that of any streaming platform. A model that is also known as the creator economy or micro-patronage. It consists of each creator having a professional account to which any user can subscribe. The price of subscriptions, the types of subscriptions and the reasons for subscribing vary from creator to creator. This is how personal the Patreon system is. 

At this point you may be wondering what Patreon gets in return for all this. The platform charges a commission, the amount of which depends on the plan you have subscribed to as a creator. It is usually between 5% and 12% of the earnings.

Why should you create an account on Patreon?

There are two main reasons that may convince you to open an account on Patreon. 

1. You may receive financial remuneration for content that, on the one hand, you create and, on the other hand, you already share on your digital platforms. We are talking about a stable source of income.

2. You may be able to build your loyal fan base at the same time as making yourself known to new audiences who like similar content. 

How can you join Patreon?

As a creator, the first thing you need to do is open an account on the platform. Then you need to set up your profile. Remember, the more specific the better. Your goal is that both you and your creations are attractive to whoever sees them, so attractive that they want to contribute financially. So spend time and care on this fundamental step. Once you have done this, you need to choose the type of income, set up the different subscription levels and allocate profits to them. Let’s take it step by step:

Firstly, you can choose between monthly income or income per creation. In the first case, each subscriber will be charged at the beginning of the month the amount you have set. In the second case, each subscriber will be charged for each creation you publish. 

Secondly, you can set a single subscription level or you can create several. If you opt for the latter option, it is usual to establish a basic level and from there create higher levels with a progressively increasing amount.

Thirdly, what do we mean by benefits or perks? These are a series of rewards that you offer to subscribers in addition to the general content you already produce. If you’re in the music business it could be merchandise, signed albums, videos of your creative process, exclusive previews of your new tracks, Q&A sessions and so on. The possibilities are endless. And while setting up these benefits is not essential, it is highly recommended. Each subscription level should have associated benefits, i.e. attractive features that will convince the user to subscribe to your page. Basic levels will have basic rewards while higher levels of contributions will receive more personal and exclusive benefits.

Some tips for Patreon: 

Promote your Patreon page: post a link to your page on all your social networks, mention it in your videos and posts, and send out newsletters. Do whatever it takes to let your followers know that they can support you financially.

Interact with your community: in addition to accessing the benefits that correspond to their subscription level, patrons like to have direct contact with you and be part of your creative journey. Take an interest in them, send them messages, organise digital meetings, answer their questions, etc. In short, create a community. 

Be creative but realistic about the benefits: differentiating yourself through the benefits you offer can be a great way to gain appeal and attract attention. However, don’t forget to be realistic. These are benefits that your subscribers expect to get in the time and manner that you have previously established. Don’t let your imagination outstrip your capabilities.

Pic ©Patreon

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