Patreon, the site that matches creative talent–musicians, writers, cartoonists–with modern day patrons is in the news again after a big investment this week. And at Pando Daily, David Holmes follows up on his earlier thought-provoking coverage of the company. Holmes is a trustworthy blend of jaded and wide-eyed–a good combo for a media technology arbiter. He understands “if your heart doesn’t jump at the idea of yet another crowdfunding platform that also happens to be yet another startup trying to save the music industry.” But still that doesn’t mean that one of them won’t do it and win and satisfy fans and artists alike, right? So Holmes stays vigilant, watching for emerging solutions–and he gives Patreon more credit than most. Any revenue stream that keeps artists from going under will require multiple tributaries–including Spotify and Pandora, if only for marketing reach. But patronage is sure to be one of those feeders.
Patreon, founded by Pomplamoose lead singer Jack Comte and partner Sam Yam, takes its model from the Medicis of Florence and the generous benefactors of Mozart and Beethoven. (Only today the Patreon model spreads the patronage around better–fewer Popes, more peeps, you might say.) Holmes reports that it’s working–and $15 million in new investment from top-level VCs and angels seems to agree. Even some of the artists/creators are making money–the company has paid out $2 million since May 2013. Now comes the tricky, but interesting part. Everybody in Silicon Valley likes to scale up, but mainly on the demand side. Google, for example, is all demand (searchers); it gets its supply (content) for free. Patreon is said to be signing up 180 creators a day, so that even if it maintains merely its current pace, there will be 65,700 new creators on the site this time next year for you to support. Supply won’t be a problem. What investors will find out is whether there is ultimately a difference between what Patreon offers and, say, setting up a Tinypass account to charge for content on your own page. Meanwhile, onward and upward with the arts!