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How To Make Money From Your Music On An Ongoing Basis

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

Last month I profiled Jeff Price’s Audiam on Digital Music News and how he looks to fix YouTube’s royalty system. That’s all well and good, but even if things worked perfectly in the YouTube royalty world, creators still rely on viewers to click ads. Then for those ads to generate revenue for YouTube and, eventually, sure, the creators. Maybe.

Enter Patreon.

Patreon skips the middlemen altogether and goes directly to the fans. Patreon is a Kickstarter-like service for constant creators. Instead of raising a bulk amount for one big project (like an album), Patreon is for those who create on a regular basis – like YouTubers, musicians, podcasters, bloggers and the like.

“Patrons” pledge a set amount PER CREATION. The average pledge on Patreon is $7. So if you create 3 videos a month, and a fan pledges $7 per video, you would earn $21 from that fan per month.

Jack Conte, a successful YouTuber in his own right (and one half of Pomplamoose), created Patreon because he saw the discrepancy between impact and monetary value.

“I think everyone is embarrassed about their low [YouTube] ad revenue dollars because they read stories about people getting rich off YouTube and they think ‘ugh I’m just not getting enough views. I’m just not smart enough’ And no one wants to speak out and say ‘Yo this model sucks! It doesn’t work for anybody!” – Jack Conte, Co-Founder and CEO of Patreon

Conte (and his co-founder Samuel Yam) launched Patreon in 2013 and it already has built up a user base of 30,000 active patrons and 10,000 creators. gets 2 million page views per month.

The website lists that Patreon is for Musicians, YouTubers, Web Comics, Writers and Bloggers, Indie Gamers, Video Producers, Authors, Podcasters, Animators, Artists, Photographers and “Any creator who wants to share their work.”

Fellow YouTuber, Peter Hollens, is a singer who creates A Cappella videos and has over 558,000 YouTube subscribers. He puts out about 3 videos a month and so far makes $2,745.68 PER VIDEO.

Zach Weinersmith creates comics and books. He has 2,821 patrons and makes $7,777.61 per month.

Cara Ellison reviews video games. She makes $1,938 per article. Contrast that with the starting weekly salary of a New York Times reporter of $1,360.

There’s a woman who makes ASMR videos (which Time Magazine calls “a strange, tingly sensation, known in some corners of the Internet as a brain orgasm.”). She’s at 409 patrons and $2,859 per month.

And now, there’s a dude with funny hair who writes blog posts that help independent musicians succeed with their careers.

Patreon can be used by any type of creator putting out regular content.

Unlike YouTube, Conte mentioned that the comments on these creations are 100% positive.

Creators can choose if they’d like to setup their profiles to collect per piece of content or per month. Fans can put a cap on how much they are willing to pledge per month.

Creators can offer perks and rewards (ala Kickstarter) to reward fans who pledge more, but aren’t required to. Unlike Kickstarter, all perks are digital. No breaking the bank on postage or cramping the hand signing lyric sheets.

Patreon just launched the Creation Page where creators can share a direct link to each new creation (video, song, blog, podcast, etc) to their social media so fans are directed to the page with the embedded creation and a link to become a patron. The Creation Pages look very similar to Kickstarter – highlighting the perks on the right side bar.

Like Kickstarter, Patreon takes 5% (after the transaction fee of around 3%).

Following in the footsteps of other tech giants like Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt, Jack Conte is currently not taking a salary (well the others took $1). Conte says he wants to live off of Patreon as a creator. VP of Operations, Tyler Palmer mentioned that Conte comes to the team and says “Guys, we gotta change the product in this way because I rely on this and I need this as a creator.”

Musicians are putting out more music now than ever. Sure major label artists may only put out an album every 3 years, but Patreon is not for them. Patreon is for musicians and creators who put out regular content to connect with fans on an ongoing basis.

Fans will pay you for music. Ask them. Don’t make them.

I just launched my Patreon page for Ari’s Take. Check out my page, become a patron and see how it works. Browse the site and launch one of your own!

About the Author

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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