Crowdfunding is about more than Kickstarter and Indiegogo in 2014. US firm Patreon – co-founded by musician Jack Conte – says it has distributed more than $2m to its community of artists and creators in the 13 months since it launched, with $1m of that coming in the last two months alone.
That indicates strong momentum, and now the company has some cash to boost it: $15m of Series A funding from investors including Index Ventures, Hollywood talent agencies UTA and CAA, and individual tech luminaries.
Patreon works by getting fans to commit small amounts every time a creator releases a new piece of content: a song, a video, a comic, an article or whatever artform it is that they are producing. They can also opt for monthly subscriptions.
Patreon keeps a 5% cut of these donations, and claims a community of more than 25,000 creators. The company says that it will use the funding – which follows a $2.1m seed round in August 2013 – to build mobile apps, expand its team and launch new products for its creators.
Those new features include something called “Launch Mode” for artists to use when launching a new piece of content, including a countdown to get fans excited, and live streams and chat as it’s released.
Patreon’s patron-style model of recurring donations to artists sets it apart from other crowdfunding platforms, that tend to focus on individual projects rather than creators. Conte himself is one of its poster artists: his 1,334 patrons have committed $5,337 every time he releases something new.
Let’s see how the company pushes on with its $15m of new funding now to help more independent artists build their digital businesses. But at a time of yet more friction between technology and music – see YouTube vs indie labels – Patreon is one of the good-news stories about how these two worlds can work together positively.