At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or those looking to make sense of the new media landscape.
Since we’ve probably read almost every word written on Patreon as part for our “under-the-hood” exploration in this EC-1, we’ve compiled a supplemental list of resources and readings we believe are particularly helpful for learning the Patreon story.
Reading time for this article is about 8 minutes. Feature illustration by Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch.
I. Background: The Story of Patreon
Pedals Music Video (Announcement Video) & Behind the Scenes Video | May 2013 | In May of 2013, Co-founder and CEO Jack Conte first announced the creation of Patreon alongside the release of a stunning music video that had smoke machines, light shows, and robots on beat machines. Conte also added a neat behind-the-scenes video showing just how much groundwork and hustle went into the production.
Jack Conte’s Patreon Explanation | May 2013 | In a separate video, Conte went into a bit more depth on the original site’s purpose, vision, and functionality.
Pomplamoose’s Jack Conte Creates A Subscription-Based Funding Site For Artists and Patreon Is a Recurring Tip Jar for Fans Who Love Everything You Make | May 2013 | TechCrunch’s and AllThingsD’s coverage of Patreon’s launch. In context, revisiting the pieces offers an interesting look back at the initial excitement around Patreon’s offering and the pervasiveness of the problem it was tackling.
Jack Conte Presentation @ XOXO Festival | September 2013 | At the XOXO Festival, a festival and conference for independent internet-based creators, Conte explains how his own experience as a YouTube artist led to the creation of Patreon.
1,000 True Fans | March 2008 | Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly’s widely read 1,000 True Fans essay is essentially the philosophical underpinning of Patreon. The principal idea here is that one can be a successful creator if they are able to consistently monetize even a small, dedicated fan base. Kelly walks through independent artist economics to explain how just one thousand true fans who will consistently support or purchase a creator’s work can be enough to make a comfortable living.
Digital Medici: How This Musician-Turned-Entrepreneur Plans To Save Creators From Advertising | February 2018 | In a 2018 profile, Kathleen Chaykowski contextualizes Conte’s motivation and aspirations for Patreon, outlining his path from childhood music fanatic to struggling artist to founder.
Inside Patreon, The Economic Engine of Internet Culture | August 2017 | Verge senior reporter Adi Robertson outlines in-depth how the Patreon model has changed from the creator perspective overtime, including creator anecdotes, success stories and concerns.