Here devoted Patreon user Nate Maingard offers us an inside look at the benefits of the service, and provides several tips other potential users should keep in mind when using Patreon so as to get (and give) the most out of it.
I'm Nate Maingard, a modern troubadour (nomadic singer-songwriter) from South Africa. I play guitar, write songs and have been a professional musician since 2011.
The coolest thing (in my opinion), is that am 100% supported by a global community of over 200 patrons (known as the Nateives) through Patreon, which is a modern combination of crowdfunding (indiegogo, kickstarter, pledgemusic) and old-school patronage (Da Vinci, Shakespeare and Michelangelo were all supported by patrons). Patrons pledge anything from $1 to $100 per month as their way of giving back to the art they value so highly, and in return they get exclusive access to my world and art.
Patreon has been hugely beneficial to me, allowing me to share my stories directly with my most supportive community members (The Nateives). This has also allowed me to focus entirely on doing what I love: travelling as a nomadic troubadour, writing songs about my experiences and playing intimate shows for small audiences around the world.
I learned of Patreon while listening to an interview with Jack Conte (Patreon’s creator) on the CDBaby DIY Musician Podcast, in March 2014. I immediately knew it was what I’d been searching for and I launched my Patreon page a week later. And, some of the first Nateives who pledged are still with me today (Thanks Eli, Beatrice, Martin and the others)!
Benefits of Patreon:
Direct to fan connection:
- There is no-one controlling the relationship between my community and me. We talk about what interests us, share what we care about, and exchange value in a way which works for us. No labels or corporates to get in between us.
Stable, reliable income separate from merch/touring:
- Even when I’m not on the road, I still have reliable income every month!
- I can reliably pay the bills and keep writing my songs and planning my next albums, merch, and am not forced to be constantly playing shows just to survive.
- In a digital world where the value of music is currently often valued at 0 (or close enough not to make a difference), this is a way for people to choose to value the artists they love.
- Although they can get the art for free (youtube, soundcloud, etc), they know that by pledging what they can easily afford, they are directly supporting the artist in creating more of what the fans love most: the art.
A few things I've learned:
Nateives generally aren’t pledging because of the rewards, they pledge because they want to support my art and they choose the amount based on what they can afford. This generosity humbles me and makes my heart sing!
Waiting for perfection can kill creativity and connection:
- I sometimes release new songs, roughly home recorded, exclusively for my patrons. Many say that those are their favourites.
- My patrons care about emotion and authenticity. They want to really FEEL something, and thanks to their support I can keep creating music from my heart, without having to sell out to corporate interests. It’s a win win win!
People are generous, when they care:
- My patrons are among the most generous people I have ever met. They know my trials, my weaknesses and the mistakes I make, and yet they continue to support me.
- We have a sincere relationship of mutual respect and care.
- Many of my patrons have recently increased their pledges, sending me messages saying that they've come to love what I share with them and the world even more than when they first pledged (AAAH!).
Gift economy works:
- If those who CAN afford to pledge DO SO -even $1 adds up when 1000 or 10,000 people pledge that amount- then it means that those who can't afford to pledge can still access my art guilt-free, for free. This way art becomes a community experience, and anyone who needs the messages I bring can get access to that.
- This trust-based system removes the paywalled, exclusive access to art and puts it back in the public realm, in a way which benefits both the community and the artists they support.
Where to from here:
1000 true fans:
- I love the concept of 1000 true fans. As an example, if 1000 people pledge at the Patreon average of $7 per patron, then I will have enough funding to entirely manage my own recording, touring, merchandising, and home life.
- This will free me up to spend more time writing and sharing what my community loves the most!
- Much less pressure than trying to reach millions of people via radio or exhaustive touring.
- This way I can still lead a fulfilling, balanced, simple life, while bringing great value to my global community.
House Concert Tours:
- I'm planning to begin touring more over the next few years, as more funds for travel become available. My aim is to play live for every single one of my patrons at some point!
- The more support from patrons, the more of a viable plan this becomes, removing the stress and gamble of needing to guarantee large tour income to cover all the costs of touring.
- My music is about connecting with one another, embracing nature and liberating ourselves from the internal or external cages we find ourselves in.
- My intention is to begin offering practical solutions to some of the big issues I talk about in my music, which are faced by today's people: how to live a life of value, how to live in community, how to take control of our health and happiness on a daily basis.
- Thank you to my patrons, to those who have just pledged, and to those who have been with me from day one (nearly two years). Together we are changing the dialogue about the value of art, and creating an epic global community along the way! Yay Nateives!
Patreon is an incredibly rewarding way for artists with committed fans to connect directly with those fans while allowing said fans to support the art they love and gain a deeper insight into the creative lives of their favourite creators.
Check out Nate on Patreon.