Platforms like Patreon promise easy ways to make money from your music. But there’s more to it than meets the eye! Here are five ways to make the most of Patreon.
As I mentioned in my Tunecore post, the power of digital service providers in rolling out your music and content on schedule and across a myriad of platforms is immense. However, this isn’t enough on its own to ensure that you are getting out what you put into your music. Now, even if you aren’t aiming to make music your main source of income it’s a costly operation. Not only from a purely financial perspective; just think of all the time it takes. We often neglect this aspect, because making music at home sounds like such a pleasurable pastime. However, unless you’ve managed to evolve to a new digital form of consciousness, your time is not an inexhaustible luxury. So let’s put some value on it!
With the tools Patreon provides, you can engage your growing fanbase. These allow you to move towards sustainability by monetizing different sides of your operation while adding value for your most loyal supporters. It’s a platform for the fans who have been with you since the beginning, giving them unprecedented access to exclusive paywalled content, merchandise, and early access to your shows. If you aim to create quality content for your fans, there are considerable costs involved with each step of the process. Each music video, photoshoot, and EP cover requires a budget. Every song you release will need to be mixed or at least mastered professionally, plus there are distribution costs. Nothing is free, but with Patreon, you have a space for engaging your audience on a subscriber basis as you progress through each step.
1. It starts with your audience
With most avenues of online culture, things are not quite as straightforward as they seem. High subscriber and follower count on social platforms do not automatically mean lots of engagement. So being aware of caveats like these can help you easily navigate the various platforms where your music is available and your audience can interact with your content. It’s another myth that you need a million fans to sustain your operation as an artist. A mob of followers on your social accounts may look good on paper, but having 1000 dedicated fans on a 20-30 dollar-per-month subscriber plan becomes the essential lifeblood of your band. Save your champagne dreams for later and focus on achieving tangible goals.
2. On Patreon, the customer is king
Prioritizing your fans and their experience is how you will grow. Entering this mindset is easier than you might think. As music fans, there are moments we seek to share with the artists we love. There are those burning questions you’d love to get answered in interviews. Remember that before the social media age, behind-the-scenes studio or backstage footage from tours was something rare you only got to see as an added feature on a band’s live DVD. Keep your content tailored for your audience and pay close attention to data analytics from your various platforms. You don’t need to subscribe to selfie culture to sustain yourself as an artist. Seeing things from a fan’s perspective is key to your long-term success.
3. Plan ahead
There are times where opportunities may arise for capturing and sharing unique moments with your fans. If you’re strategic about this, you can use it to your advantage. Keep in mind the time and work involved with running your Patreon and distributing your music and content over the various platforms your audience uses. Have a schedule where you divide and conquer tasks and don’t do all the work yourself. Split the capturing and publishing of content into 2 distinct spheres and ensure you plan 6-18 months in advance. Not only will this allow you to work without pressure, but you can build your audience up to the important release dates and maintain the constant momentum you need to propel you forward.
4. Stay consistent
Patreon allows for many different business models for your operation as an artist. So do your research. Find out about the ways that artists and creators great and small have used the platform to sustain themselves successfully. There is no right or wrong way to approach this. But once you have decided on a strategy you should stick to it. Constantly shifting your focus and point of engagement will not make your life easier. Consider that, online or not, you occupy a time and space in your fans’ lives, and they rely on you to deliver on your promises. This doesn’t mean you can’t evolve as an artist or diversify the content you put out. It simply means that your approach should be structured.
5. Exclusivity goes a long way
Reward your audience and add value where you can. As your support grows, so should the quality of your content and you can also refine your delivery system. Feedback plays a huge role in defining which route to take. The same way you select which tracks will feature on your album or EP and their particular order to have a certain story-telling continuity, so too can you apply this thinking to your content schedule. Learn what aspects of your creativity your fans love most and where the no-go zones are. Patreon allows you to easily create and manage subscriber tiers and clearly categorize your content. By adapting the platform to fit your creative output you can create packages consisting of early access content, limited-edition merchandise, vinyl releases, and exclusive fan content. Get to know your fanbase and in time you will know exactly where each piece fits.
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