Build a direct connection with your audience and sustainable revenue with Patreon
Guest post by Patreon’s Erica Campbell
As this is a tough time for musicians globally, we’re partnering with other creative companies to bring you ways to rally your audience and fund your latest project from quarantine. Here’s a primer on building a stable career as a creator on Patreon, a platform that, like SoundCloud, empowers you to find creative independence, authentic fan connections, and sustainable success.
While it’s an unprecedented time, the pandemic has revealed what we have always known: regardless of your ability to create it’s hard to find stability and sustainability as an artist. Luckily, there are resources that are interrupting the status quo and changing the way artists are able to create sustainable careers powered by the people who matter most: their fans. One of those ways is Patreon.
Signing with a record label or headlining your own tour may be your end goals, but those aren’t the only way to “make it” as a musician. With Patreon, your fans become active participants in your work. The membership platform enables creators of all kinds to earn money by offering monthly memberships to paid subscribers or “patrons” that give them access to exclusive content, community, and insight into your creative process.
In exchange, you get the freedom to do your best work, and the stability you need to build an independent creative career. If this sounds like a good trade, it’s because it is – and here’s why, according to the artists who are finding success:
- You keep your ownership: One of the things we often hear from creators on Patreon and artists throughout the industry is that they want to maintain ownership, specifically when it comes to how they create and share music. Creative ownership means different things to different artists. To some, it means owning their masters, and for others, it means having the freedom to pursue an authentic creative vision. When artist Judith Holofernes made the move from pop star to indie creator she shared that, “being indie wasn’t a style decision anymore, which it would have been, in part, when I was really young. It would have been like an aesthetic decision and a coolness-based decision. But now I really know why people need to be independent: because it’s a life-saving matter.” On Patreon, artists can run their careers as an independent business, making it possible to put their name on their work and know that no one else can take credit for it, or worse, take ownership of it.
- You can connect directly with fans: Creators across the globe are using Patreon to nurture direct connections with their fans, build supportive troll-free communities, and deliver unique value to patrons. In an industry where middlemen and label contracts can often lead to losing the rights over your work, platforms like Patreon have become a safe haven where artists can share their art directly with their fans. It can be scary to go towards nontraditional channels but as producer and musician Rival shared with us, “Patreon for me is a platform where I can build a community, aside from any algorithm.” Building a community based on your audience allows you to not only get around middlemen but to continue to survive as an artist in a constantly changing industry.
- You’ll build a sustainable career: With Patreon, you can develop a recurring income stream through dependable monthly payments from your fans, giving you added sustainability if you’re waiting on per-stream payouts or unable to tour. As electronic artist RAC recently shared with us after launching his Patreon, ”It’s a community, and I’m taking feedback from people — there are people out there that actually want to be a part of this, which is cool. On the other side of it, I actually feel like I’m working toward something, and I’m already starting to envision a future where I don’t have to rely on anything else. Which is kind of incredible. Building that community on Patreon has been a really eye-opening thing for me.”
Waiting for the right time to launch? According to indie singer and songwriter Raye Zaragoza, there’s no time like the present. “[Do] not wait for anyone to do something for you and just take it into your own hands. We’re living in a time where there are so many avenues for that, Patreon being the way I believe in most. It’s a substantial part of my income. So yeah, don’t wait around for anyone.”
For fans and artists looking to support musicians, there are multiple ways to get involved. Here are ways you can support artists on and off of Patreon:
- Purchase merchandise: It may seem outdated in comparison to supporting digital initiatives but buying merch from your favorite musicians is still one of the best ways to show support. Revenue from streaming and album sales can take months or longer for artists to receive but typically going to their website and purchasing your favorite band’s shirt, hoodie, or poster is in most cases what artists will receive quickly.
- Attend live streams: If you’re missing the experience of live music, attending a live-stream from your favorite artists can be the next best thing. More importantly, it can help artists recoup some of the revenue they’ve lost from canceled and postponed tours.
- Join their community: Whether it’s becoming a monthly patron on Patreon, donating to a Kickstarter campaign, or following their profile on SoundCloud (and contributing if they have a fan support button), there are so many ways to connect with artists who are using technology to their advantage. If you’re not sure where or how you should support your favorite band, ask them. Even things as simple as sharing a playlist where they’re featured or shouting them out on Twitter may lead to more ears on their music and shows them that you’re interested in supporting them.
We can’t be sure about how the industry will change in the coming years but there are a few things we can always be sure of: there will always be music, there will always be artists with something unique to create and share, and there will always be fans to connect with who are eager and willing to support you and your music.