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A note from Jack Conte, CEO and cofounder @ Patreon
I’m pumped! Today Patreon and Subbable are officially joining forces! For those of you who don’t know Subbable, it’s a subscription payments service, much like Patreon, that allows fans to make monthly payments to creators. And it was founded by Hank and John Green.
That’s right. The Vlogbrothers!
The guys who were vlogging before vlogging was a thing. The guys who founded DFTBA (The record label - Don’t Forget to Be Awesome). The guys who founded VidCon.
The short version of the story is this: creators on Subbable were about to see a 30 to 40% decrease in their monthly income, due to a change within Amazon Payments (Subbable’s payments processor).
Super bad news bears.
Imagine your next paycheck comes in the mail (or direct deposit if you’re super saucy and modern), and it’s two thirds of what you were expecting.
So what could be done? Here’s a recap of my text convo with Hank, when it all started:
me: Talked to Michael yesterday. Basically you guys are going to have to ask all of your users to re-pledge and go through another sign up process if you change to PayPal. Give that there will be attrition, if you did want to join forces, this would be the time. Totally happy to help you guys move to PayPal, of course, but just wanted to make sure you knew that there's a natural, unique window right now, if you decide to ditch Amazon.
Hank: We are going to have a meeting about this very thing in about an hour :-)
Patreon proposed a solution, dreamed up by my cofounder extraordinaire, Sam Yam: If Subbable creators launched on Patreon, we would reduce the effect of "drop off" by matching the first 45 days of pledges, up to $100,000.
This “matching program” would do three things:
1) Creators would get a solid paycheck, even if all their subscribers don’t immediately migrate to Patreon.
2) The matching program would incentivize creators to mobilize their audiences effectively and immediately, knowing that their first month of funds would be matched.
3) It would generate excitement about the transfer, incentivizing patrons to pledge even more, knowing that their payments would be effectively doubled.
(Quick side note: We realize that creators who are NOT on Subbable would also love some help from Patreon. So we’re starting an Arts Grant program later this year that gives all creators a chance to qualify for some extra funding, but I’m not going to get into that quite yet….)
I want to make one thing painfully clear about this deal: the Matching Program means an extra $100,000 is going to creators.
Not to Hank and John Green.
Patreon IS acquiring Subbable and money IS changing hands, but MOST of the money that Patreon is spending on this acquisition is going to the matching program.
And that’s what Hank and John wanted.
Do you see what I’m saying here?
I want people to understand how awesomely principled Hank and John are being. It’s a testament to the path that they have walked for years. It would have been possible for them to “exit” more traditionally, with a giant chunk of happy cash waiting for them at the end of the rainbow. But they wanted that cash to be diverted to Subbable’s creators.
AND I THINK THAT’S KICK ASS.
I use the term “Creator First” a lot at Patreon. And I use it as an adjective. But it’s not. “Creator First” is action. It’s behavior. It’s tough decisions for the benefit of the people within the ecosystem. And it’s not just a bunch of lalala optimistic hippy talk. It’s a business model. It’s having the confidence in our business to always put our customers’ interests ahead of our own. (That’s you, creators!) It’s knowing that in the long run, the devoted people who comprise Patreon will build ultimate utility for creators, and we will have endless wells of endurance to fuel our mission. Small, day-to-day sacrifices must be allowed to fade into the background.
Patreon is Creator First, and damnit, so are Hank and John. They exemplify Creator First, not only in philosophy, but in action. Hank and John, I am so excited to be working with you dudes. And we are honored to have Subbable’s awesome creators on Patreon. I think this is the start of a long relationship and the continuation of an increasingly swift return to classical patronage.
Creators on Patreon Receive Over 1,000,000 per Month From Patrons
October 11, 2014 17:27:49
This announcement is our happiest yet! But it’s more than just happy - it confirms a massive cultural shift that we all felt but had trouble describing. It’s a restless movement, developing simultaneously right now in arts communities around the world:
The public is demanding to pay creators.
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. Some people call the phenomenon "crowdfunding," some people refer to it simply as "supporting artists," but its roots grow in a familiar soil, an age-old human desire to contribute to the creation of art. We call it patronage.
In less than a year and half, over a 125,000 people have become patrons of creators on Patreon, paying them over a million dollars every month. Their patronage takes the form of a recurring pledge - a promise to pay creators per work or per month. The sum of these ongoing pledges constitutes sustainable, reliable salaries for professional creators around the world. On behalf of all the creators on Patreon: thank you, patrons, for your consistent support. You are the reason we can keep creating.
If you are not a patron yet, please check out two of my recent favorites on Patreon:
Chris Ryniak draws a new friendly monster every day.
Danielle Ate the Sandwich is a singer songwriter that makes me melt. Her new album, Like a King, is one of my favorite albums of the last few years.
In cinematography, there’s a concept called the "shadow edge transfer." It’s the general area on a set or a subject where the edge of a dark shadow ends the light begins:
Credit to: Brook's Short
It’s difficult to determine EXACTLY where the shadow’s edge is, which is why cinematographers created a name for the region where one becomes the other.
While it’s challenging to mark the precise edge of an age, it’s clear that we, creators, are in the midst of a shadow edge transfer in era. We’re moving out of the dark ages of creativity - when professional art creation was a privilege that belonged to a select few, when an audience of hundreds of millions was was required to be profitable, when "hit songs" were the only sustainable model, when ad revenue required hundreds of millions of pageviews to be lucrative.
We’ve moving into a realm of small business creativity fueled by community. We’re moving into an era of patronage.
We’re not out of the shadow yet, but it’s getting brighter.
Join the movement