Ni! I recently got an email from Patreon talking about it’s vision.
They claim that membership supported productions is the next web revolution!
In any case, that opens really interesting avenues for free culture, even though it is not embedded in their vision.
I feel one thing that Patreon got right that previous efforts like Flattr didn’t, besides timing, is to focus on the person, not on the product.
Funding “more of this thing” doesn’t work well neither for the funder nor for the creator. You can’t establish a stable relationship with “a thing like this”. You’ll only get people excited about high value deliveries, and then crowd-fund short-term projects - which by itself only mimics the start-up model which works well to bootstrap proprietary business.
So, by focus on the person, I mean, not only exploring the personal aspect, the fandom, but the fact that you can establish a much more straightforward and meaningful, durable trust relationship: when you fund people, they put out a narrative which gives you a history and a vision, exposing their relationship to their work, and that’s what you’re contributing to.
So you decide. Based on whether you want to continually support that vision, and whether the history presented leads you to trust that person to do the job. At the same time that they’re free to do what they like, you are in control of your contribution, and choices are causally simple. You can see the exact results you helped achieve, you can question the person responsible and negotiate the vision, but mostly you can just trust them to follow their narrative, and quit if they don’t.
Contrast that to the complementarity between supporting either an institution - unclear purpose of your contribution, must understand organization to question - or a specific action - no guarantee of continuity, no vision of what it is going to help achieve.
I’m just trying to point to extremes, of course, but it seems even open-source software can learn from this.
One of the reasons I started supporting the team behind Morevna and P&C Motion Comic in Patreon was because there’s a GIMP developper in the group. I always knew I could fund GIMP somehow, but never did. This time I kinda felt like “I can fund this specific developer, with this track record, to keep working with this artist and make GIMP awesome for artists, while producing free culture, wow!”. It was a much more natural relationship than what I get from the GIMP donation page, even though they offer every possible form of payment through the GNOME Foundation.
And while browsing to finish this post I’ve learned that another GIMP core team member, Øyvind Kolås, already lives off Patreon revenues.