Let’s Talk Patreon

28 Jan

I talk with other musicians and this day and age is an odd time for us. Some of us, like myself, have fanbases that are ever increasing. Good numbers. You look at the Bandcamp listens, the YouTube listens, the streaming services, there are some really solid numbers. But albums sales don’t increase. They decrease. This is not just me, my other peers report the same thing happening across the board.

There is no great mystery as to why this is. It’s very, very simple. Most people don’t buy music, they stream it. Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, Google Play (i myself have a Google Play account and love it. I consume enormous amounts of music and that Google Play account is a beautiful thing). The issue with streaming though, is that the pay is terrible.

So, how many plays does it take to make minimum wage?

Apple Music / 230,000 plays
Google Play Music / 250,000 plays
Deezer / 260,000 plays
Spotify / 380,000 plays
Pandora / 1.2 million plays
YouTube / 2.4 million plays

In the old days these numbers would net you some serious bank. Now, a play doesn’t equal a single sale, many people play multiple times, but even so… Keep in mind also, that these are the numbers needed to earn minimum wage. That’s 7.25 US dollars an hour. If i worked 40 hours a week at McDonalds, this is what i’d make. And we all know minimum wage is barely even enough to live and in most cities you simply can’t. To earn 15 dollars an hour, double these numbers.

I don’t say this to complain. I will never stop doing what i do. I will die a wretched wreck like Van Gogh and Mozart rather than stop. (Not that i’m in any way a Van Gogh or Mozart.) But problems require solutions and the point of this post is solutions.

So i ask other artist, how tf do you live? My solution has been to live in Serbia, where i could keep a family of 4 afloat. At this point i could survive in a small American town, except my family loves it here, so i can’t take them away. But still… i have an album coming up, the Biopunk Fairytale. It’s… it’s excellent. I know, i shouldn’t say that, but it’s going great. The second album in my trilogies tend to be particularly on point and this is no exception. And like the other 2nd albums, it was hell getting started.

I need to pay Liel for her songs, i need Lauren to sing a song, I need Psyche to narrate the thing, i need a flutist to do a solo, i need… i think a saxophonist for a solo, but i haven’t firmly decided whether saxophone or another instrument. I’m throwing a buddy of mine a small bit to sing a few verses of one of the tracks and i need to hire a female to sing the part of the Mayor for a song. All that costs cash. And the truth is, the album would be better if i didn’t sing the part of Xander. It would really work better if i hired a male to sing all those songs. But it’s a bunch of songs and that’s a bunch of money, money that goes beyond what i can afford.

I don’t want to GoFundMe every time. We’ve got a GoFundMe coming for the live show in October, and one’s enough. So, what the other artists have all told me: “Paul, my dude, you gotta get a Patreon going. How do you not have one already? That’s how you make up the difference.” The people suggesting this are names you might recognize, so after tossing it around for awhile i’m thinking of stepping up and starting one.

So my questions:

I assume there are different tiers? What kind of perks do i offer? What kind of perks do you know other musicians offer? Anyone who either has a Patreon account or donates to one, i’d be very interested in hearing what you think.


Posted by on January 28, 2019 in Uncategorized


18 responses to “Let’s Talk Patreon

  1. Crazy Theorist Scientist

    January 28, 2019 at 11:59 am

    I would trade my soul to you to be able to buy the New Albion CD set from you. I was too late of a fan to know about the cd set and i love having physical copies of my favorite music albums.

  2. Kerttu

    January 28, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    one obvious one that comes to mind is cover suggestions. maybe people on one tier could give you their suggestions every month, and each month you could pick one of those suggestions and make a cover! and maybe the lowest tier (say, 1-2 dollars a month) could have access to little update posts on the albums every now and then? and if there’s a really, really high tier, maybe they could have access to the demos before the album is out?

  3. PixelWayve (@PixelWayve)

    January 28, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Yeah, you’re a musician, and I would absolutely join a patreon for more fantastic music content from you. But also, you’re a storyteller and have created this amazing complex world. I have fallen in love with New Albion and the characters in it and would be thrilled to learn more about them. Whether it’s podcast like the Astonishing Tales or short stories like Lost Fables, you could give us more lore and fill in details of events that were briefly mentioned or hinted at in the albums.

    Tell us about Constance’s early heist attempts, when she made a bunch of rookie mistakes and almost got caught. Tell us about Lee sneaking out of the house to go hang with Adrian and the Voodoopunks without alerting his father what he was up to. Tell us about Helen trying her best (and failing) to make Han Mi stick to this week’s cabaret script. Tell us about Annabelle getting kicked out of school. Tell us about Rebecca and The Meme going on disgustingly cute dates together in the real world. Tell us about Rachael and Mascot 3000’s adventures in Elysium. Tell us about Raven’s time in the Collective Unconsciousness, what did to keep himself occupied when he was stuck there. Tell us about Priscilla hiding in the manor, hurriedly shoving Jasper in the closet when the police came by for unannounced raids. Tell us about the secret of the cyberpunk gala that Gabriella and Mascot04K were working to solve. Tell us about the moment that Byron decided to run a doll for mayor.

    Tell me more details about the characters I already love, and I will throw money at you.

  4. PixelWayve (@PixelWayve)

    January 28, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    also! please let us know as soon as you have a date for the live show cause I’m going to need to make some plans of how to get there from the states 🙂

  5. Derontomy

    January 28, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    You could make a raven talkshow, have people submit questions and answer them as Raven, maybe add in other characters as well, make it an informal semi-canon mess where perhaps one lower tier is being able to listen to it and in a higher tier you can also ask your own questions.

    Now whether I’d join is a big question mark since I love your content… but I’m also busting my ass of at minimum wage to save up for my future. Plus I buy the albums already. Buuut I think a semi-direct way to the characters might help gather a couple people to the cause ^^
    And it should be less work than you know… writing new stories or premium songs or something.

  6. LoreNut

    January 28, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    I know that some content creators on YouTube give like sneak peeks on their upcoming projects for their Patreon supporters. Idk what else they do, but I would love to support you on Patreon!!!

  7. Helennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn... don't you want me

    January 28, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    I don’t have any suggestions but I will be there first thing.

  8. Curima

    January 28, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    I think a Patreon is a good idea, and there were some good suggestions already about bonus content you could create. Some artists I support on Patreon also do stuff like giving out one T-Shirt a year for higher level patrons, or send them Holiday cards. Maybe you could work something out with all the great fan art that is out there. Or you could give early access to the albums, or show some of the steps in between or explain your process … I think there are a lot of possibilities.

    But if it is about getting the next album going – I don’t see what’s so bad about doing it on kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform in addition to a Patreon page, because a) it creates more money you can put in cool extra stuff and b) it is a great way to let people know about your project. I know some independent creators I support that have a Patreon and also do crowdfunding for special occasions like live shows.

    Anyhoo, I’d totally become your patron, and more people also would. And it is a great way of having a fixed income every month, which is always good. Good luck with whatever you decide!

  9. Diego Meza Pantoja

    January 28, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    For patreon rewards there are many things I can consider. I have seen patreons of people such as critics on youtube, artists, and even esports community event organizers. The main thing all of them offer, and what tends to draw a lot of people in is a look behind the scenes, and ways to engage with the creator more personally.

    Visual artists offer sketches, line art of their finished pieces (some ofer nsfw versions, but Im not sure you want to do that); some youtube reviewers upload the scripts to their videos; the esports guys offer replays from their events (ingame files) and chances to have your own games featured by them and the like.

    So following a similar logic you could go something like:

    1- typical tier 1 subscription where all you can offer in return is your eternal gratitude, perhaps even your name in your next album (as a thank you note in the description or the like, youtubers tend to show all names of patreon supporters at the end of videos)

    2- tier where you can get some small rewards, like getting a message/line of your choice read/sang by some of your characters (probably limited to those you voice, most people will choose raven anyway)

    3- tier where you start to gain access to stuff like the demo tracks with your voice, maybe even sheet music (or save it for a higher reward)

    4- tier where you can maybe name a minor character in an album

    5- tier where get the next album a day or so before everyone else

    infinity – stupidly expensive tier where you send them a custom body pillow of yourself, signed by you and all the main singers/players in your works. It always cracks people up and just raises the spirit. You know no one will claim it, but the prospect of someone doing it is entincing and people get on a better mood while on your patreon page, posibly making them buy a cheaper tier.

    These are just ideas to get you flowing. I always pay like 50% more than the listed price of your albums so I’m all aboard the patreon train to support you my dude

  10. Lee Fisher

    January 29, 2019 at 1:03 am

    You could also do bandcamp subscription if you want to support the albums and not have to create too much other stuff, but you’ve already done a lot of it between book, podcast, covers, miniCDs. I’ve said before it would be nice if you were on patreon.

  11. Jon Parrish

    January 29, 2019 at 2:41 am

    I think your position is strongly geared towards this style of income. The other comments offer great suggestions. You will know best but i suspect keep the streaming content (youtube, spotify, whatever) going as well and dont put all your eggs in one basket.

    One unique function is the ability to set it up as a per item with users setting a maximum they are willing to spend per month. This could help levitate some of the pressure of producing something worth the money every month. That said, if you are able, small tidbits about the world would be awesome. IMO your world is only better for the alternative formats you have produced and they would go well in this space.Some, q&a’s for instance, would not require to much work on your part i suspect and provide your fans with answers to some of there questions.

  12. Vadvivon

    January 29, 2019 at 5:49 am

    $1 – wow!!! ur supporting a great artist, good job
    $5 – being able to suggest a weekly(or more than weekly) cover song (exclusive to the 5 dollar donators and up)
    $10 – having access to more frequent update posts, and maybe even some special vlogs of the progress?? idk.
    $20 – maybe. just maybe u might get a small spoiler about a future album that only u will know. and u will feel powerful.
    $30-50 – get a whole ass side character named after you. (kinda like yaser latef)
    $70 – maybe get a preview of some songs while theyre being developed. and suggest some things if u wanna.
    $100 – you magnificent son of a bitch giving this man some of the money he deserves. u should get a preview of the whole album before its released to the public.andd get a MAIN character named after you or whatever name u choose. (maybe limit that power a little bit)
    – anything above that and you become god. an d paul shapera will kiss your shoes and everyone will love u bc ur doing what we’re too poor to do. so cool…

    anyways yea those are my suggestions. andd definitely feel free to change the prices to however u see fit.

  13. absolutionjailor

    January 29, 2019 at 6:06 am

    Unused demos are something that you as a creator will always like less than your audience who may be eager to hear any of your thoughts no matter how complete. Things like Mannequins or the unused Byron rallies are beloved. I understand that tracks like these, while not in the final project and may be scavenged later for things that worked, are a tough subject. Release what pride and taste will allow. Sure people might share them, but the people who are going to pay are going to pay, and the people who are not or can not will not change. If this is a concern moving forward then I know the Discord staff would love to help wherever possible.

    Covers. I’m pretty sure that you know the legality of covers more than me, but if it’s doable, great. Especially in-character covers like Raven’s Candy Man which is one of my favorite covers ever.

    Early access. If you feel strange putting things like demos and covers behind a paywall, when you historically have released them for free, then you could include this as a bonus. Maybe 30 days after making something available to patrons it goes up on Soundcloud or something. People don’t usually mind waiting so long as they know something is coming, so this historically has cut down on piracy / shared content stuff, because patrons who are happy and able to donate know this ahead of time and people inclined to spread your work around know that not having to wait is the reward for them giving a dollar.

    Named references. People have names, you sometimes need names, bam, magic.

    So then at higher tiers, and this is just an idea, but your flash fiction glimpses into the worlds of New Albion and company are fun, and beloved. Maybe at a certain amount you make a character and write a quick thing or scene named after the patron. I dabble in writing so I know this sounds so much easier than it really is, and you’d never want to swell up your worlds with tiny events just because a patreon tier demands it. Most creators who do things like this set a hard limit, like 5/10 a month, something they know they can produce without stressing themselves or their world.

    Physical merch. Set a tier above the retail cost and shipping of an item, add a signature and maybe a little message, limit repeat patrons, bam.

    Hangouts. I’d be happy to help with this through the discord. (It’s Matt). A tier where once a month people are invited to sit and chat with you. I know your time is at a premium and this incentive seems pretty popular among content creators.

    Then there are goals. Big-term goals. Once you hit 1000 patrons a month you do an event. Put up a poll to let patrons vote on a specific cover, or a background song for a character. Or something fun like “Timothy needs to dance it out, what’s his go-to dancing with myself song?” Or however the podcast interviews were worked out.

  14. Shopogopolis Employee

    January 29, 2019 at 8:09 am

    I’d be more than happy to support you on patreon, omg. The Shaperaverse is so damn complex and interesting that anything I can do to keep it going, it’d be an honor. I really like PixelWayve’s idea for the tiers. I’d be thrilled to learn even more about he lore.

  15. Dargons

    February 1, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Depends on how you want to go about the payment model; iirc, you can do per month or per release. I don’t know how you’d want to manage things, but here are some reward options:

    -personal thank you email and/or name in the credits
    -name (or name suggestions) get put into the pool of names you draw from for characters
    -access to each album release on time
    -access to each album release X days early
    -access to demo tracks of each album (or album cover preview or lyrics preview, that kinda stuff)
    -you do covers (ala raven sings candyman, lloyd sings shiny, etc)
    -they can make a character that you mention in an album
    -exclusive merchandise

    these are just some ideas

    • Dargons

      February 1, 2019 at 6:07 pm

      some other things i thought about was doing more short story writing in between releases:
      maybe a story a month and albums as they come along so then you do the per month model, base more rewards on the short stories, then make the higher tiers include album stuff if you want.

  16. Nek

    February 11, 2019 at 7:16 am

    (Super late to the party)
    Yes Patreon is good! I would love to have a little subscription gift like a keychain or postcard. Access to demos and outtakes are nice too. Though, please keep in mind that Patreon is supposed to be a relatively stable source of income so the artist could continue to create regular contents for everyone. Don’t let fulfilling the rewards take up too much of your time.
    You might also consider having a Ko-fi account that allows one-time donations :)))

  17. George Mauer

    February 13, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    Don’t need any tiers. I’d sign up at $5/mo just for the regular amount of publicly released output.


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