Patronism: Reinventing Musical Patronage
Startup Patronism combines crowdfunding and fan clubs to create a platform for ongoing artist support. Rather than simply donating money or getting a package of swag for your contribution, Patronism members pledge a monthly amount to interact with artists and get access to unreleased creative content from music to "archival photos, videos, behind-the-scenes stories and oddities like noteworthy answering machine messages."
The site provides patron access to artists through their "Patron Community." The combination of artist access and unreleased content is potentially quite powerful. Fans can get a sense of what featured artists are making available by clicking through on the homepage and then hitting Preview to see the individual artist's "Latest Content Feed". You can already see different levels of activity with different artists though you'd have to support the artist to see how interactive they get in their Patron Community.
Patronism is still in beta and artists can apply for an invitation. The application page for artists includes more of the value proposition including the fact that artists get 85% of subscriptions with Patronism covering storage, streaming costs and credit card processing fees which seems like a really good deal.
Patron applications are conducted via individual artist pages and start at $2. Subscriptions at $10 and above are billed monthly while lower subs are billed in 2 or 5 month increments in order to minimize transaction costs.
• Musicians needed to upload music
• The storage had to be secure
• Fans must pay for access
• Fans can download music
Using low-cost, ready to go web tools and services like the Paypal button and Amazon's web storage combined with a startup apps deal from AppSumo for a fast start, Patronism embodies the new breed of web startup that has transformed Internet business funding by needing quite a bit less. In fact, they're attempting to finance their company, at least in part, by getting folks to become patrons of Patronism which provides access to featured artist content plus behind the scenes access to the Patronism team and content related to the company's development.
One smart touch is the Artist Pledge which allows fans to suggest artists for Patronism and encourage their participation by pledging monthly support. Once "enough demand has been demonstrated", Patronism will contact the artist.
Overall this seems to be a well thought out platform and though, in the wake of questions about such company philosophies as Google's "do no evil", I've become a bit cynical about high-minded Web company statements, it is nice to see a publicly stated Philosophy of Patronism's values. Beyond that I'm happy to see an innovative business model that makes sense. It's not hard to see why Patronism was recently dubbed one of 10 new ideas that could save the music industry.
Exploring similar terrain with an individual approach, Amy Martin has been working on the concept of The Patronopolis to support her own work and establish an approach for other artists to use as well. She's using IndieGoGo as a fundraising tool and is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas to make donations tax-deductible and so that she also receives additional services. Martin offers a variety of membership levels and benefits for her supporters.
While artists and arts groups have long used patronage models, only a few artists have truly benefited and they've typically limited the majority of direct access to larger contributors. Both Patronism and Patronopolis indicate how use of the Web has facilitated mutually beneficial relationships between artists and fans and opened up such processes to emerging artists and lower budget fans.