Patreon is a crowd-funding platform popular with YouTube content creators, musicians, and webcomic artists. It allows artists to obtain funding from their fans or patrons, on a recurring basis, or per work of art. This San Francisco based company was started by musician Jack Conte and developer Sam Yam in 2013. Patreon has been featured in Forbes, Billboard, and Time magazine.
Patreon was founded in May 2013 by artist Jack Conte, who was looking for a way to make a living from his popular YouTube videos. Together with Sam Yam he developed a platform that allows patrons to donate a set amount of money every time an artist creates a work of art. The company raised 2.1 million dollars in August 2013 from a group of venture capitalists and angel investors. In June 2014 the company raised a further $15,000,000 in a series A round led by Danny Rimer of Index Ventures. In January 2016, the company closed on a fresh round of $30 million in a series B round, led by Thrive Capital which puts the total raised for Patreon at $47.1 million.
The company has signed up more than 125,000 "patrons" in its first 18 months. In late 2014, the website announced that patrons were sending over $1,000,000 per month to the site's content creators.
In March 2015, Patreon acquired Subbable, a similar voluntary subscription service created by the Green brothers, John and Hank, and brings over Subbable creators and contents including CGP Grey, Destin Sandlin's Smarter Every Day and the Green brothers' own CrashCourse and SciShow channels. The merger was consequent of an expected migration of payment systems with Amazon Payments that Subbable used.
In October 2015, the site was the target of a massive hacking attack with almost fifteen gigabytes' worth of password data, donation records, and source code taken and published. The breach exposed more than 2.3 million unique e-mail addresses and millions of private messages.
Artists set up a page on the Patreon website, where patrons can pledge to donate a given amount of money to an artist every time they create a piece of art, optionally setting a monthly maximum. Alternatively a fixed monthly amount can be pledged. This is different from other crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter, where artists obtain a single sum after a successful campaign and typically have to start over for every new piece. Similar to other platforms however, artists will often provide rewards for their patrons. Patreon takes a 5% commission on pledges.
As of February 2014, almost half of the artists produce YouTube videos, while the rest are writers, webcomics artists, or podcasters. On average, patrons donate $7 per creation. Patreon is growing rapidly both in patrons and creators, with 10,000 artists expected to use Patreon by the end of February 2014. While the website initially targeted musicians (musician and performer Amanda Palmer uses Patreon and operates independently from a music label), established webcomic artists such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Zach Weinersmith and Paul Taylor are successfully using it. Any content creation that may be deemed pornographic photography is prohibited since a December 2014 policy change. Non-photographic sexual imagery (drawn, sculpted, or computer generated, for example) is allowed.
- The California Report.org: "Creating Patrons of the Arts Through Crowdfunding" July 11–13, 2014.
- Patreon.org: Intro Accessed 14.7.1014
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