Business & Strategy

Highs and Lows for Creators in 2017

January 09, 2018Taryn Arnold

Creators are some of the most amazing people on the planet. Last year, they used their art, music, videos, sketches, and more to spark change in the world. They lead important discussions on mental health, explored every corner of the globe, gave their patrons once in a lifetime experiences, and much more. 

Not only did they make the world better, they got paid for it, too. In 2017 alone, creators on Patreon earned more than $150 million. We’re so excited for what lies ahead in 2018, but before we head full-speed into this new year, let’s zoom out and take one last look at 2017.

low2017 Now, I’d love to jump straight into all the good, but let’s be honest. If I had to choose a word to describe how 2017 was for artists and creators, it’d be bittersweet. A lot of good, and a lot of bad. A few fails and changes have drastically impacted how makers of all kinds will create moving into 2018 and beyond. Let’s just go ahead and get these out of the way, shall we?

Patreon fumbled, hard.

We’ll start with ownership of our very own flub, the proposed service fee changes. Ugh, even typing it out makes me shudder. We announced a change aiming to fix some major problems and confusion around payments but quickly found that it added new problems we hadn’t predicted. Our community spoke up immediately (thank you for doing so), and we decided not to roll out the proposed change. We apologized, and are excited to earn back that trust in 2018.

YouTube seriously frustrated creators.

In 2017, YouTube changed how videos are monetized, leaving even some of the platform’s biggest creators from Casey Neistat to Philip DeFranco confused, upset, and with less predictable income. Not only are YouTube’s policies more strict to allay advertisers’ demands, but the algorithms tasked with demonetizing videos are leaving creators puzzled, causing unrest in the YouTube community.

The FCC voted to repeal net neutrality in the US.

Despite massive protests, the FCC announced they’ll be reversing the regulations protecting net neutrality in the United States. This is likely to impact how internet users create and access content. Our community — and even creators worldwide — were particularly passionate about this issue, resulting in our comment on the matter becoming one of our most engaged-with tweets of the year. As conversation and protests around the reversal continue, creators wait with bated breath to see what happens next.

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A lot happened last year, but creators make up a strong crowd.  Artists and makers of all kinds are professional perseverers. They’ve created a career for themselves from the ground up, navigating changes and roadblocks like these since their journeys began. These changes, while big, have not and will not stop them from literally creating a better world. Here are just a few of the incredible things creators did for the world in 2017:

Creators used their platforms for good

Just one of many little friends rescued by Rancho Relaxo

Why have a platform if you don’t use it for good? This year, audiences everywhere turned to artists and creators to learn, cope, celebrate, and find ways to give back.

Rancho Relaxo saved animals

Animal lovers, lean in. If you’ve seen any tear-inducing videos of animal rescues floating around Instagram or Facebook in 2017, there’s a good chance Rancho Relaxo was behind it. Thanks to the contributions of over 3,200 patrons, the non-profit was able to rescue over 90 animals.

Colin Moriarty paid for students’ books

Colin Moriarty (of Colin’s Last Stand, previously with Kinda Funny) loves history, and wants his fans to love it too. At the end of 2017, Colin gave 10 lucky history and/or political science students $500 each, to cover the cost of a semester’s worth of their books.

Amanda Palmer raised money for disaster relief

Amanda Palmer (or Amanda Fucking Palmer, as millions of her fans call her) is a creator of all things, spanning from paintings to music to a best-selling book and TED talk. When hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Amanda immediately went to the studio to write, record and release a beautiful song whose first month of proceeds went directly to a relief charity, MARIAFUND.ORG.

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Creators gave fans once in a lifetime experiences

Peter and his choir of patrons

When you have an audience of thousands (or millions), it can be hard to find ways to connect with them on an individual basis. This year, some creators went above and beyond to give their adoring fans personal experiences they’ll never forget.

Andrew Rae cooked dinner for patrons

Chef, best-selling author, and YouTube creator Andrew Rae (of Binging with Babish fame) cooked up something incredible for 2 long-term patrons. He flew to Los Angeles for the first time to make them a gourmet 6-course meal, full of dishes he’d never cooked before.

Kina Grannis invited patrons to make the calls

Singer-songwriter Kina Grannis has a way of turning every music video into what feels like a cozy in-home concert, where she sings directly to each and every fan in the room. This year, she took it a step further by inviting her fans to be her record label. They name it, come up with the artwork, hear all songs before release, and have their names physically printed on the album.

Peter Hollens sang with 500+ fans

Grab the popcorn, folks. Broadway star, Youtube musician, and a cappella professional Peter Hollens assembled a virtual choir of over 500 of his patrons. Together, they created this beautiful rendition of “The Dawn Will Come.”

•  •  •

Creators made the world smaller and bigger at the same time

Views courtesy of MJ Sailing

In 2017, creators of all kinds embarked on journeys around the world. Luckily, cameras and articles allowed us to go along for the ride.

Jeff Gluck went coast to coast

In 2016, Jeff Gluck covered 26 NASCAR races for USA Today. Since becoming solely patron-funded, Jeff was able to cover 31 races in 2017 alone, writing for the people who love his work most.

MJ Sailing finally set sail

After spending three years sailing the Caribbean and crossing the Atlantic ocean twice, Matt and Jessica of MJ Sailing decided to trade in their sailboat for a fixer-upper. Two years of building their dream boat later, the couple celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary by setting sail again, luckily taking us along with them.

Drew Scanlon took us behind the curtain

Drew Scanlon is known for his love of video games (and blinking uncomfortably, of course), which ultimately lead him to launch Cloth Map. This travel video series aims to look at the world through the lens of games. Since launching this year, Drew has already taken us to Brazil and one of the most irradiated places in the world, Chernobyl, Ukraine.

•  •  •

Creators lead the charge on mental health discussions

The best news

While talking about mental health is always of utmost importance, it seemed like these conversations and connections were everywhere in 2017, as global disasters, tragedies, and drug epidemics were claiming the lives of far too many. People have been looking for better understanding of themselves and the world around them, so creators climbed on board to help tackle these topics head-on.

SciShow helped us understand ourselves

The SciShow team has been providing lifelong learners free educational content for years, and their viewers are hungry for more. In 2017, the team asked their patrons which new series they should create and release, which lead to the launch of SciShow Psych: an educational series aimed at helping you understand your brain.

How to ADHd went full-time

Thanks to her patrons, Jessica, the creator of the popular YouTube channel How to ADHD, is now able to quit her day job and pursue her channel and quest to give people the tools they need to thrive with ADHD.

Stuart Duncan helped kids play

Stuart Duncan, the creator of AutCraft (a Minecraft server made for 9k+ kids and families with Autism), was able to launch a second server… then give a TEDx talk about it.

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Thanks for the memories, 2017. Let’s go create some new ones.

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