Patreon: a guide for musicians[This article was written by Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music book, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.]

Crowdfunding has become an incredible tool for musicians and marks a huge step towards independence. But there’s still one problem with a lot of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter – they are very much project based. In other words, you do a campaign, raise some money, and then it’s done. It’s not a sustainable, steady, and reliable form of income, and when it comes down to it, that’s what independent artists today really need in order to maintain their careers.

If you’re looking to establish a more regular stream of income to supplement the money you bring in from music sales and gigs, Patreon is a great option.

Establishing a regular income stream

In the music industry, there are traditionally only a few products that fans can buy – albums, songs, merch, and concert tickets. All of these products are usually under $100 and fans can only buy your albums, songs, or tickets when you happen to be on tour or releasing a new album.

The problem is, there are some fans who would pay to support you more often if they had the chance, and they would pay more. By sticking to the traditional products I just mentioned, you’re limiting your income, and you’re tying yourself into an irregular income stream.

With Patreon, you can give your fans the opportunity to support the content you’re already releasing on a regular basis. A lot of artists are releasing regular cover videos on YouTube, remixes on Soundcloud, and even original tracks in between their album releases, and they’re doing all of this for free.

Keep in mind though, that Patreon isn’t a subscription service or pay wall. All of your fans will get access to the music, videos, and covers you release on YouTube, Soundcloud, Facebook, iTunes, or your website. Patreon just gives your fans the option to support you for it. Ultimately, Patreon is really about empowering your superfans to support you and the content they love.

With Patreon, any payments your fans donate are recurring every time you release new music. In other words, every time you release a new song, music video, or remix, your fans will pay a small fee depending on which tier they choose.

Empower your superfans

To thank people for going the extra mile to support you, you create different reward tiers with cooler and more exclusive rewards for people who contribute more. With this tiered approach, you’re essentially giving your super fans and your more casual fans options to fit their budget.

Generally, your lower end rewards will be more popular, so they should be scalable and easy to fulfill in large numbers. Things like an mp3 download of all your songs or early access to your new songs or music videos could be your $1, $3, or $5 reward. As you go up the ladder, your rewards should get more personal and exclusive. For example, Amanda Palmer gives her top tier patrons the chance to talk, hangout, and have dinner with her regularly in exchange for their support.

As you can see, Patreon can be an incredible tool for indie musicians. In the New Artist Model online music business programs you’ll learn how to turn your music into a successful business – a business where you are in control! You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you achieve a career in music, and you’ll be able to do it all with the resources you have available right now.

If you’d like more strategies like these, you can download this ebook for free. It will take you through some of the best strategies for indie musicians to help you grow your fanbase and your career.

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