Patreon, started in 2013, is a platform for discovering and financially supporting artists who produce recurring smaller works such as web comics, podcasts, and YouTube videos. It resembles crowdfunding services such as Kickstarter in that it enables a group of consumers to support a creator at varying financial levels that correspond to perks set by the creator. At the same, it harkens back to a much older patronage system of the arts in that consumers opt into an ongoing relationship with the creator, electing to support that creator at regular intervals (every new creation, every week, or some other metric that better suits the content).
Patreon has two main customer types: creators and patrons. For creators, they are trying to appeal to small, independent artists who do smaller, recurring work that doesn’t match the project-focused nature of Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding services. In practice, this will mean a short head of relatively established internet-based artists who make their living exclusively through creating content and a long tail of artists who aspire to do so and are in the early stage of customer acquisition. For patrons, they are looking to appeal to consumers passionate about niche artistic brands and who are interested in a more substantial relationship relationship with the artists they enjoy than the pure transaction of money for product. In both cases, Patreon is attempting to coopt customers from existing crowdfunding services that can be better served by the Patreon model. Additionally, they may be looking to attract creators who previously saw no clear path to revenue from their art but may find spending more time on content creation more viable due to Patreon’s services.