A couple of years ago, the Swedish micro donation service Flattr caught the attention of bloggers in Germany and some other places in Europe. However, despite a sudden momentum, an honorable idea and an innovative execution, the startup never managed to reach the critical mass that would be necessary to make the concept of users supporting creatives with small donations work on a big scale. Flattr is still around, but unfortunately it lost its momentum.
Now it looks like another company, the San Francisco based startup Patreon, is more successful at establishing a global platform that connects creators with fans who are willing to chip in a few bucks. Patreon was founded in 2013 by the Indie Musician Jack Conte and his friend Sam Yam. The service allows individual producers of creative content to set up a profile and to gather so called “Patrons”. Patrons are fans/followers who are willing to pay a one-time or monthly amount to their preferred creator(s). Patreon takes a cut of 5 % as commission, the remaining amount is being paid out to creators.
Patreon’s usage has blown up lately among YouTubers and podcast creators – not only in the U.S.. Here in Sweden, many of the largest podcasts encourage their listeners to contribute via Patreon. A look at Google Trends reveals that the service actually is most popular in Canada, Australia and Sweden, followed by the U.S., Finland, the U.K. and Brazil. As you also can see from the popularity graph, searches for Patreon are literally exploding.
Where Patreon is popular according to Google Trends
Like social networks or crowdfunding platforms, a social donation service for creative work benefits from and needs network effects. The more creators participate, the more of their fans will go through the steps to register and to pledge. The more fans are registered and ready to fund creative work, the more creators will join. So the incentives are there for the rise of one global platform designed to fund individual creative works. For the moment, it looks as if Patreon could become that platform.
The company recently took in $30 million in a Series B funding round, so it seems well prepared to handle future growth. While Patreon uses the U.S. Dollar as the default currency for all transactions and only is available in English for the moment, the company has taken the necessary steps to meet the new (bureaucratic) VAT requirements of the European Union. As explained here, Patreon will “collect VAT at the applicable rate from EU-based patrons” and will also “take care of the filing and remittance of VAT payments made by patrons for digital services provided by our creators through Patreon”.
Every day an abundance of great, independent content is being produced and consumed by hundreds of millions of people. If a service succeeds at connecting both groups around the globe and at making voluntary, non-advertising based remuneration of creative work possible on a large international scale, it would be a game changer. Flattr didn’t get to that point, but maybe Patreon will.
If you want to read more about Patreon:
- Patreon: Crowdfunding for the Long Haul
- This New Crowdfunding Service Is Putting Kickstarter to Shame
I created a Patreon-profile for meshedsociety.com, in case you like to become a patron. Also, if you want to register as a creator, Patreon has a Referral Program. If enough future creators sign up through this link, I’ll get a bonus. If you do not want to support meshedsociety.com (yet), here is a non-referral link to the site.