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Membership: The Future for Creators

The web is a house. It’s a big, cold, spiritless house.

And it’s the creators — the people inside the house — that turn it into a home. The creators are the ones who populate the skeleton of the internet with the flesh and blood of the human experience that make the web meaningful. They reach billions of people around the globe, and their work gives us purpose in our lives. It gives us perspective when we’re lost. It makes us laugh and cry and love. It reminds us to be grateful and humble.

But the financial mechanism that powers the web — the ad economy — is putting human creativity at risk. The emerging generation of creative people, the millions of creators that make the web worth exploring, are being systemically devalued and underserved by the unconscionable and inefficient systems that turn attention into dollars. Bloggers with tens of thousands of readers are making a few hundred bucks in ad revenue. Video producers reaching a hundred thousand fans don’t make enough to even pay their rent.

What the fuck!? How are we OK with this?!

So, A) we’re not, and B) the times they are a-changin’.

Something unprecendented is happening — right now — on the internet. It’s more than a new platform and more than a new product: it’s a cultural sea change that is redefining what it means to be a professional creator. It’s fans demanding to pay artists for the joy they’re given every day. It’s artists demanding to be paid what they’re worth. It’s technology catching up to humanity. And it’s happening right now.

Last month, Patreon announced that we’re on track to send over $150 million to creators in 2017 alone, from over a million financially active patrons. Patrons are making subscription payments to creators, and they’re paying more per month than they pay for an Amazon Prime membership, or a Netflix subscription. Imagine that. Fans paying creators….

Membership is working. There are now thousands of stories about creators who are turning their dreams into realities on Patreon. From YouTubers to podcasters to webcomics and illustrators, it is now possible to use membership to build a viable business as an artist. Once upon a time, our culture categorized creators as being either “starving artists” or “rich and famous,” but the emerging generation of podcasters, webcomics, and video makers on Patreon are changing that antiquated, sorry perception.

The emerging generation of creators on Patreon are fucking crushing.

They are building creative businesses, hiring teams, and running scalable membership programs. They are establishing international content operations that make millions of fans laugh and cry. They are bringing people together. Their art is making people feel less alone. And they’re finally getting paid for doing what they do best.

They are creators like Kinda Funny:

Taping of Kinda Funny Gamescast from their San Francisco studio They are creators like Complexly.

Team meeting at the Complexly HQ in Montana There are now over 50K creators making money every month on Patreon. And they’re using Patreon’s membership platform to finance their creative businesses and energize a fired up community of paying patrons.

To us, membership means two things: First, business infrastructure: tools, payments, financials, dashboards, and other business basics to help you be a professional creator. Second, ways to easily give back to fans on a regular basis: awesome products to energize your community of patrons.

And today, Patreon is announcing progress on features in both of those areas:

Business Infrastructure Patron Relationship Manager. PRM is the age-old, time tested concept of CRM, but built specifically for creators running online businesses. It will allow creators to deeply understand and connect with the fans that matter most. Giving Back to Fans: Early Access. With Early Access, we’re giving creators an easy way to share content with their patrons first, from text, to images, to whatever the creator wants to share! Livestreaming. Patreon has partnered with Crowdcast to give creators the ability to host gated, patron-only livestreams, using our API and allowing patrons to log into Crowdcast with their Patreon credentials. Lens. Lens is a new mobile app that makes it simple to share stories, photos, and videos with your patrons. It’s currently in a waitlist beta, but so far, our creators are loving it! These features have already started rolling out to groups of creators on Patreon! Expect more updates in the months to come.

Membership is going to bring creators out of the dark ages of the attention economy and into the next phase of the web.

It will democratize the creator salary, just like the first phase of the web democratized distribution.

We are on our way to a new web!

A web that properly values creativity.

A web that gets creators paid.

A web where creators are brought closer to their audiences, instead of being torn away.

A web where attention is not a proxy for value.

And we are almost there. If you’re a creative person, and you’re thinking about plunging into the darkness and uncertainty of professional artistry, fucking go for it! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: every day that passes as we move toward this new web is the best it has ever been to be a creator. There are no more gatekeepers. Distribution has been solved. Creative salaries are now real. And the only puzzle piece left is your creativity and ambition.

We have been dreaming of this world for a long time.

So go make stuff.

Woot!


BT dubs, check out our sweet new Patreon video: