Your love gives me such a thrill, but your love won't pay my bills...
I tweeted yesterday about my Patreon account – where I'm asking people to support me but, more specifically, my podcast, How to be Sound, by pledging to pay a certain amount per month. You can see how that went in the tweets below, or on my Instagram, where the comments got similarly... heated.
What she said 👇🏼 https://t.co/8hOcLGt4qF
— Rosemary Mac Cabe ❄ (@RosemaryMacCabe) June 2, 2018
It's an interesting concept, Patreon – although it's not new. It was set up in 2013 as a way for online content consumers – you, essentially – to pay for the content you're consuming, if you feel that way inclined. A lot of US creators I follow, particularly in the podcasting world, have Patreon accounts; closer to home, Second Captains and Blindboy are two of the more successful Patreon users. (Even if each of their patrons is paying just $1 per month towards their work, that means that they are making $10,000 and $3,000-plus, respectively, per month. Not too shabby, right?)
In a world of free content and paywall-free news, a lot of the time, people ask themselves: why should I pay for something I can get for free? I would argue that there is no "should" in this equation. Something like Patreon allows you to decide what content you pay for and how much you pay for that content – and, if you decide that you no longer wish to contribute, you end your patronage. It's really simple.
In an era where pay-per-click advertising isn't exactly cutting the mustard, print media is in a downward spiral (although stabilising, which is interesting; it seems that there are some people who just love print) and consumers are tiring of banner, pop-up and mid-stream ads, Patreon puts the power firmly in the hands of the followers.
Podcast apps are free – so listeners of How to be Sound can, effectively, consume that media free of charge, should they so choose. But it's not free to create. It takes time (money), skills (money) and production (money) – and I don't do it alone. So if I can set up a way to allow people who genuinely enjoy that content to pay for its production, with no harm to anyone, why wouldn't I?
And of course, we could argue that the money would be put to better use if it were given to charity; that there are homeless families in Ireland who could do with it; that I'm a middle-class white feminist asking for your money. All of those things are true – which is why it's up to you. Give money to charity. Give some to me. Do both (do neither). It's entirely up to you.
Patreon is not me pulling the wool over anyone's eyes; it's not me tricking you into consuming paid content, or selling you a €14 make-up bag I bought for €1 on Aliexpress; it's not me reaching into your wallet and taking your hard-earned cash. It's merely a way of saying hey, do you like this? If so, maybe you'd consider pledging a dollar a month (around 89 cents) per month towards helping me to create it. In a world of filters and Photoshop and dishonesty and deflection, it feels like a pretty honest way of making a living to me.
P.S. If you haven't seen Empire Records, you should. Right now. It's so, so good.
P.P.S. If you disagree with the entire premise of Patreon, let me know why! And how! And in what way! (But please, don't insult me while you're disagreeing, because that kind of ruins the whole discussion, don't you think?)