Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that lets fans become “patrons of the arts” through regular payments to artists, has signed up 125,000 patrons in its first 18 months.
Unlike most crowdfunding sites, which are used to bring in funding on a project-by-project basis, Patreon aims to generate regular income for creators listed on the site. Patrons can contribute a set monthly amount, or pay by creation – for example, every time a video is uploaded to YouTube or for every article or poem the creator publishes.
Contributions start anywhere from $1 and, like Kickstarter and similar platforms, artists can set varying contribution levels that come with different perks for the patron. The company says that it is now paying out $1m per month to artists on the site.
The aim of the site is to provide a regular income source and method of payment for artists, allowing them to continue creating in a time when so much work is published on the internet and expected to be free. Patreon’s creators say that they are very encouraged by the response so far.
“The public is demanding to pay creators,” said the company in a blog post. “As the cost of consuming digital media drops to zero, the masses are beginning to visualize the peril on the road ahead for creatives, and now they’re doing something about it.”
“The sum of these ongoing pledges constitutes sustainable, reliable salaries for professional creators around the world.”
At present, the moment is still in its infancy, and even popular artists on the site are generally earning just enough to get by or to supplement other income. But, as it becomes more popular, it may offer a tantalising alternative to the endless advertising on which many internet-based artists now rely.
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