Patreon – 21st Century patronage

Trainee Producer Hamish MacPherson takes a quick look new-ish crowdfunding platform Patreon.

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a crowdfunding website where people pay you on a recurring basis, for example for every song you record or every comic you write. You might have heard about it from Amanda Palmer who currently earns $31,992.54 per ‘thing’ from 4,864 patrons.


Here’s Patreon’s video explaining it:

What do you have to do?

First “tell your patrons why they should pledge to you. Talk about what you do and how you’ll be using your Patrons’ support to keep creating interesting content.”

Set goals for patrons. So for example if you were making Youtube videos you could say that with $50 a month (it’s all in dollars) you’ll remove adverts from the videos. Goals are optional.

You can also offer rewards. Unlike traditional crowdfunding sites these are best if they are ongoing rewards rather than one-offs (since the relationship is ongoing) although it looks like quite a few people don’t get this. So these can involve offering earlier or more access to what you make if people donate more each month. These are optional too and perhaps like patronage from the olden days it’s more about the patron’s desire to support an artists they believe in (or gain prestige or cleanse dirty money), rather than because they want a signed photo.

Once you’ve got going you’re encouraged to give regular updates – your profile comes with a little blog – to keep people up to speed with your work. Here’s a blog post with lots more advice.


Is it any good for dance artists?

There’s not many dance artists on the site at the moment, and most of those that are pretty terrible in my opinion and would do better shaking a money jar out their window.

It’s still relatively early days and probably we don’t tend to make lots of discrete little things on a regular basis or things that can be ‘consumed’ online. But maybe you can think of a way to challenge the model or make it work for the way you do. Lots of us write or make videos as part of our practice for example so it’s not a huge stretch.

dance mom

One that stood out is by American choreographer Kelly King who has a neat pitch explaining “You are buying time. Time to create. Time to teach. Time to plan. Time to collaborate. Time to share.

But it’s probably better looking at some non-dance examples for inspiration and guidance – check out interesting performance people Hannah Nicklin or Harry Giles for example.

Shall I give up on Kickstarter?

Probably not if you’re making fairly time-consuming work on an irregular basis. Or if you don’t already have people that are interested in and supportive of what you do. But it’s definitely gaining popularity. Here’s a good blog post comparing the two.


What does it cost?

It’s free to register but Patreon take 5 per cent. By comparison, successful Kickstarter projects pay 5 percent, plus 3 to 5 percent to Amazon Payments, which processes contributions. And as with any kind of income you may have to pay tax too.