Patreon Now Has 3M+ Patrons, Expects To Pay Creators $500M In 2019

Written by Dana Sanchez

Patronage isn’t a new idea, it’s just undergoing a popular revival. It dates back at least to the Middle Ages, when creators such as Michaelangelo needed to find patrons to finance works of genius such as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Credit for using technology to revive patronage goes to Patreon founder and musician Jack Conte. Six years ago, after pouring resources into YouUube and earning less than $200 in ad revenue for his band, Conte got frustrated and came up with a better a way for musicians, podcasters and other creatives to get paid more by fans themselves.

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He co-founded Patreon with Sam Yam to create a direct reimbursement platform that makes it easy for fans to pay to support writers, artists and other creatives. Fans can either give one-time gifts or subscribe to donate regularly.

Last week, Patreon announced that its user base is more than 3 million, and it’s on course to pay $1 billion in total contributions to creators by the end of this year, with $500 million of that total expected this year alone.

The San Francisco-based company released new stats showing how fast it’s growing. You can see some of the top Patreon creators here.

The growth has been exponential, pymnts reported:

“That billion donated is impressive, given that Patreon donations are generally pretty small. The average patron gives $12 per month to the artist or artists they’re passionate about, according to the company’s internal figures – and monthly donations of $10, $5 or even $1 per patron are fairly common. And while there are a few runaway success stories of people bringing in tens of thousands of dollars a month through the platform, the average creator brings in more modest sums, usually in the hundreds of dollars.”

In 2018, Patreon tried different things to raise revenue, according to Fast Company.

For example, “Special Offers” is a feature that lets creators offer a benefit to prospective patrons such as merchandise or getting their name in an upcoming book or album if they commit to a specific patronage tier in a given time frame. “It’s been incredibly impactful,” Conte said. Patreon also acquired Memberful, which provides white-labeled membership services to creators who’d rather focus on their own brands than jump on the Patreon bandwagon.

Another potential revenue source is to make the service international. “Right now, Patreon’s business is skewed toward the U.S., because we’re dollars and English,” Conte said. “As we expand that, I think we’ll see considerable growth overseas.”

This year, Patreon wants to simplify sending out physical goods to patrons with its own merchandise solution, the company announced Wednesday, according to Variety.

Patreon may be growing, but so is the competition. Other platforms are looking to offer creators alternative revenue streams in addition to advertising. Facebook started testing paid memberships in March 2018, and both Twitter and YouTube have been allowing live streamers to raise funding from their audiences.