Instagram and Snapchat don’t pay. Patreon does and it’s growing like crazy.
There’s money in those grainy homemade podcasts.
Patreon, a platform where DIY creators can crowdsource financial sponsors or subscribers, said Thursday that it’s doubled in size in the past year. It now boasts 1 million active backers and 50,000 creators — twice the number of each it had in May of last year.
The platform — named for the wealthy aristocrats who funded Renaissance artists — has attracted a growing community of podcasters, artists, writers, and game developers looking for an alternative to the scale-hungry world of advertising-supported media.
There, popular creators can replace the nickel-and-dime trickle of cheap ads with donations from fans who are happy to shell out the cost of a cup of coffee each month to fund their work.
Unlike crowdfunding rivals like Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and Kickstarter, the site traffics in monthly commitments rather than one-time donations. Creators can lock their content behind a paywall and create membership tiers for various donation amounts.
The freedom from the demands of chasing a massive audience allows for niche or esoteric projects to break through that might not otherwise be made, for better or for worse.
The political comedy podcast Chapo Trap House has hovered near the top of a third-party chart that tracks Patreon popularity with a mix of obscure internet humor, inside jokes, and far-left politics. Not far below it is the podcast of author Sam Harris, whose Islamophobia and views on race have alienated him from much of the traditional media.
The site’s popularity is perhaps helped by the constant tensions between big ad-driven platforms and the users who make their most popular content.
YouTube angered many of its stars recently when its crackdown on unsavory ad placements led to drops in ad revenue across the board. Instagram and Snapchat don’t offer creators any cut of the advertising income they generate, and Facebook only recently started granting select video makers a share of a little more than half.
Patreon, on the other hand, skims up to one tenth of income generated on the site, depending on the size of a given creator’s audience.
YouTube personality Phillip DeFranco said last fall that he was shutting down his channel to start a “news and entertainment network.” His Patreon is currently listed as the site’s most popular.
The company has raised $47 million from its own investors to date and is reportedly considering another round.