Are you a musician in search of the best ways to engage with, excite, and reward your most loyal fans on Patreon? Well, lucky for you we went behind the scenes (backstage, if you will) to find out first-hand how our most successful musicians use rewards to incentivize their audience.
One quick note to listen to (see what we did there?) as you read our examples: keep in mind that not every reward is perfect for every creator. These top 10, data-backed examples are a great place to start, but they only work if you make them your own. Also, when you're finished with this article, we suggest reading five major reward categories and the advantages and disadvantages of each to get even more insight on sharing benefits that work.
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The best way to keep fans anxiously awaiting your next move is by offering them gated community access. A thriving community is the perfect benefit for those supporters who want to stay up-to-date, gain access to exclusive content, mingle with fellow fans, and be a part of conversations that aren't happening anywhere else.
For example, artist Mike Doughty keeps his fans engaged by offering exclusive music to his community members who pay $5 or more as a patron. Nataly Dawn, another music creator, keeps most of her videos locked unless you’re a member of her community.
Showing patrons that you not only appreciate their contributions but that you actively recognize how their contributions allow you to grow and thrive is extremely important. It fosters loyalty amongst your community and makes your efforts to connect with your fans authentic. Plus, who wouldn’t be thrilled to see one of their favorite artists shout out their name at the end of a music video?
Pomplamoose offers a personalized video to thank their patrons for their support and also offers a tier where they share fan names in the credits of music videos. Alex Wong is another musician that offers personalized fan recognition, in the form of a monthly personal recording of the patron’s choice in his Swallowtail tier.
By offering raw digital files to fans, Patreon musicians allow patrons to feel like they’re part of the musical process from ideation to final creation. It also lets fans know how important their feedback and criticism are to the creator—after all, you wouldn’t be anywhere without your fans’ honest feedback.
For instance, as a benefit, artist Peter Hollens offers those patrons in his Creative Crew tier the ability to look at early drafts and mixes of his tracks.
Classic and not at all surprising that it’s a reward that fans still appreciate, physical merch is a great way to spread your name and entice your fans.
The joy of unrolling a poster before pinning it to your wall or opening a concert ticket that you can then save as memorabilia is a remarkable feeling, one that singer Amanda Palmer offers in her Everything in the Mail tier.
Nothing makes you feel like a bigger part of a team than wearing the uniform, which is why musician Cuckoo sends fans iron-on patches, and has a tier where he offers packages of merchandise including t-shirts and other branded goods.
Another way to connect with fans in a personalized and engaging way is by live streaming your music straight to them.
Zola Jesus uses her Patreon account as a way to directly connect with fans, offering live streams of concerts and the promise of a live-streamed solo performance once she hits 500 patrons. A promise like that not only keeps fans on the edge of their seats, but it also entices newcomers.
Who doesn’t want to be the first to know? That’s why early access is one of the most popular rewards musicians offer patrons. It lets your fans know just how important you feel they are and brings them up a notch from just a passive fan to an actual contributor and supporter of your work.
Musician Nate Maingard gives his audience access to future projects, and the more patrons contribute, the more information Nate provides on larger, up-and-coming projects.
Supplemental materials may not specifically include music, but they allow your most devoted fans to get to know you a little better. For instance, Kina Grannis’ shares Kina Diaries, which include musings on love and life. Maria Z’s gives fans access to Photo Diaries, so they can see her unreleased and unpublished photos.
Video makes great supplemental content, as well. Do you have footage of concerts, band practice, or anything else you think your patrons would like to see? Our integration with Vimeo makes it easy to share exclusive video with your patrons. For more info, check out this blog post, and start sharing videos with your patrons today.
Think of your premium content as content that’s higher quality or more advanced than the free content you typically offer. For example, fingerstyle guitarist Az Samad offers premium packages with exclusive access to future videos.
Digital benefits are anything you can digitally distribute to your fans. Digital extras are great because you can create them out of the things you already do regularly, saving you time while also providing more value to patrons.
Think songs you have that you haven’t released, alternative versions or extended cuts of fan favorites — basically, anything that’s exclusive, interesting, and hasn't been seen may make a good digital extra. For example, country musician Taylor Ray Holbrook offers various perks to his fans, such as behind-the-scenes footage on a Patron-only Snapchat account.
What could be better than learning from one of your musical inspirations? Working one-on-one with your patrons not only helps them grow their own musical skill set, but it also brings a human element into your Patreon campaign, and shows them that you’re interested in their success.
Patreon founder and musician Jack Conte offers access to video tutorials where he provides tips and tricks to aspiring musician fans, and artist Megan Slankard provides a similar reward, sharing a tutorial every other month on how to play one of her songs.
Don’t see a reward above that matches what you’re trying to accomplish? No worries! Remember, the most important aspect of successfully providing rewards is that you’re exchanging value for value with fans, so consider this your permission to fearlessly create something new.