On, On, to Patreon

Patreon

And with that, you (the fans) overwhelmingly shouted “just go to Patreon already.

Alright, let’s do this.

A lot of shit is gonna change, though. I’ve been running a subscription-based system for seven years and Patreon is unlike anything I’ve encountered or concocted thus far. It’s also got the potential to drive even better creative output on a regular basis. So here’s what’s gonna happen…

Parts 1-1,000,000: You Give Me Feedback

I’ve gotten a lot of great comments, tips, and cautions from people since the last announcement, let’s keep that train rolling. I’m about to lay out my plan for the new-and-more-patreonic Officer’s Club, but that doesn’t mean this shit is carved in stone. Got a question? Lay it on me in the comments or email me.

Part 2: Payment Basis

Patreon, unlike Matthew Ebel dot net or the Officer’s Club as it exists now, has two payment options:

  • Pledge $X per month
  • Pledge $X per thing

The thing-based structure appeals to me for two reasons: It incentivizes me to produce more content and it guarantees my Officers won’t be charged if I have a dead month. For example, the last couple Januaries have been back-to-back convention gigs, leaving little time for content creation. If I don’t have time during a given month to produce anything, you shouldn’t have to pay anything. It’s that simple.

So we’re going with $X per Thing.

Part 3: Things? What things?

Amanda Palmer put it best in her Patreon description:

…i’d also love to experiment with what art and patronage really is…maybe i’ll write something, maybe i’ll decide to do a marathon recording webcast, maybe i’ll start doing an interview podcast with special people i meet or know… it’s this lack of knowing that makes patreon so exciting to me. i like not knowing things.

I miss the days in college when I wrote a new short story every week while skating to a solid B- in Core 2 at Whitworth. I miss making High Orbit episodes as a regular podcast. I miss being able to just make stuff without caring whether or not it’ll help pay the bills.

This way, all these things will help pay the bills.

From where I sit in my cheap knockoff Aeron chair, I can see several kinds of regular things

  • New songs & remixes
  • Live recordings
  • Short stories
  • Novels
  • Audiobook chapters
  • Podcast episodes
  • Postcards
  • Hand-made postcards and letters
  • New albums
  • Concert videos
  • Music videos
  • The annual goodie bag
  • Original artwork (more on that later)
  • Photo sets (more on that later, too)

There are also ongoing-basis goods that wouldn’t count as a paid thing, like free tickets to my after-parties and the annual Beer Bash. Those would be reserved for certain tiers, of course, but you wouldn’t be charged for an after-party ticket for a show that’s 1,000 miles away from you.

I’ll bet there are more things that you can think of that are worth paying for. During our live video chat some people mentioned early access to video streams so they can put in requests, or even choosing my nail color for the month. It’s crazy what’s possible here, folks, so leave me your comments and emails if you’ve got ideas.

Part 4: Tiers

2012 Robot Army Pass

Way back in 2008 I set up varying levels of “backstage passes”, then in 2013 I changed that to “officers” of the Robot Army. Fortunately, Patreon does allow certain tier levels of support, but since I’m going with a per-thing basis, the nature of these tiers will have to change.

I will only be able to set tiers based on per-item pledging, so I can only approximate the per-month or per-year levels of Cadet, Officer, and Entourage. It’d have to go something like this:

  • $1 per Thing – You’ll get my gratitude and access to the Patron-Only feed, which is basically just a more intimate blog where I throw ideas at the bulkhead and see what’s likely to stick. It’s where you have a chance to either shape the ideas into reality or toss ’em out the airlock.
  • $5 per Thing – You’ll get the basic goods like new songs, live recordings, short stories, audiobook chapters, images, videos, and so on. Digital goods only, of course.
  • $10 per Thing – You’ll get the digital goods and physical goods except the annual goodie bag. So things like actual CD’s, postcards, signed art prints, etc. I’m also going to steal another of Amanda’s ideas and do a monthly private webcast (you’ll need a Google account). It’ll be a private stream from my composition lab where I’ll chat about what I’m working on, my hopes, fears, insecurities, opinions, and other intimate shit like that. There’s also a piano right there, so I’ll probably end up playing a few songs. (This is basically the Cadet level of the Officer’s Club.) (Also, after some fan feedback on the math of shipping physical goods, I’m gonna limit this tier to just CD’s, postcards, and prints.)
  • $15 per Thing – All the stuff above, but if you stay on for at least a few months you’ll also get the annual Goodie Bag (and mini-bags) when it comes out and an invitation to the annual Beer Bash. You’ll also get a special thanks on any videos or albums I release. (This is the equivalent of the Officer level.)
  • $30 per Thing – Holyshit… Now we’re getting into serious business. The goodie bag will have more premium stuff in it for you, you’ll get executive producer credit on albums and videos and the like, I’ll send you handmade cards and letters, and all the other stuff I already mentioned. You’ll also get full-length, autographed, printed books if I release one. (This is the closest thing to the Entourage I can think of.)

Above that, I’m not sure what to add. Would anyone want to go for $50 per thing? $100? $1,000? I should come up with some pie-in-the-sky options in case there are angel investors out there looking to make something magical happen. Why? Check out the next section…

Part 5: Milestone Goals

2014 Officer's Club Star

One of the really cool parts of Patreon are the Milestone Goals. It’s sort of like Kickstarter stretch goals that run on a monthly basis. So, for example, if I set a goal at $500 and 100 of you are pledging $5 a thing, I’ll hit that goal and be able to do something cool. It’s a great mechanism to prevent biting off more than I can chew and give the Robot Army something to shoot for.

Mostly, these goals are here so I can pay other talented people what they’re worth while making my stuff more awesome. But the best part is that if we hit any of these goals, it’ll make the THINGS that you’re paying for SO much cooler.

Here’s what I had in mind:

  • $500 – I’ll grab an old, fake-instrument track from my library (or write something new) and re-do it with a REAL musician (starting with Runtt replacing my crappy drum tracks, of course).
  • $750 – In addition to the real-musician recording, I’ll commission an artist to make an original illustration and write either a song or story to go with it.
  • $1,500 – Instead of sending out a digital copy of the artwork, I’ll have the artist print out copies, autograph them, send them to me, I’ll autograph them, and mail them out for all those with a physical-goods tier.
  • $3,500 – The Mini Goodie Bag! I’ll send out a new shirt, mug, or whatever to everyone in a Goodie Bag tier. This won’t be the big annual goodie bag, just a little something cool.
  • $4,500 – Instead of the mini goodie bag, Runtt and I will book a convention gig (which is a LOT easier when the con doesn’t have to pay our travel bills) and anyone at the Beer Bash level will get a free one-day pass to come see us.
  • $5,500 – Forget the convention gig, we’ll just rent a room or find a club somewhere we’ve never been and go play a show. Again, Beer Bash supporters will get in free, get backstage access, etc.
  • $6,500? – I’ll commission some kind of cool costume and a kickass photographer and we’ll go do some kind of fantastical photo shoot. I’ll also write a song or story to go with the photo set. Digital subscribers will get the photo set and song/story as a download, physical subscribers will get all that plus a signed print. Remember the original illustration? That’ll happen too, but it’ll take what’s being made in the real world and go a hundred steps further into the impossible.
  • $7,500? – Drop everything else, we’re making a music video.
  • $10,000? – We’re not shooting a music video, we’re getting one ANIMATED
  • Yeah, some of those higher goals are a bit lofty, but we need a distant star to head to. And who knows, if we REACH it, we can always find something even bigger, better, and cooler to throw on top.

    Part 6: The Pay Wall

    Well shit. This part always sucks. What do I keep as patrons-only, and what do I make available for the general public? I know that releasing songs for subscribers-only has really hurt my development as an artist, but I also don’t want to just give everything away for free. Other than the obvious stuff like private video streams, do you even care about exclusivity? What are your thoughts?

    Parts 7-1,000,000: YOU GIVE ME FEEDBACK

    This is the most important part. We’re about to embark on a whole new journey together and I wanna make sure you’re on board with me. I read all my comments and respond everywhere (except LiveJournal, still can’t log in for some reason). So choose your preferred feedback mechanism and lay it on me.

    And let’s fucking DO THIS.

    Meet Patreon

  • SilverlightPony

    Well, I’m in for at least $5/thing. Not sure where to set the paywall, though. :/

    • Nor am I, but I can’t make EVERYTHING exclusive or EVERYTHING public either. I’ll just have to feel out what seems to work, I guess, and I’ll need feedback to find that happy medium.

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