by MATT BACON >
I think one of the single best things that a band can do in order to promote themselves is to exploit the true power of Patreon.
There is a way to use it that I think very few other people fully realize or are willing to put the effort in to make happen. You simply need to put together a few individual thought processes that are rarely properly combined. First of all – you ne to realize that your band is a brand. We’ve talked about this one before, but it means if your band is brand you need to be able to provide things auxiliary to music. You also need to realize that while some bands certainly have launched a Patreon for their work they haven’t actually changed how they release content as a band. That is to say – they still only put out an album every two years and play a hundred shows a year. Sure know they might have some exclusive merch, but even that isn’t too special. So what does a band gotta do to make a Patreon that doesn’t suck and can even work at low levels?
Now I put a lot of thought into this.
Bigger bands that do Patreon can get away without changing their content model and just doing exclusive merch but that’s not really feasible for your band with a few thousand Facebook likes. So what you do is look at other arts industries that are more Patreon dependent and see what you can do to copy from them. What you find is that the people who create successful Patreons are in the business of releasing regular content, frequently weekly or even daily. Obviously you can’t release a new song every week, but there are other types of content you can create. For example my clients in the band Starkill have been creating funny videos related to band life. The videos are high quality and filmed in their studio. Sure there was a high initial investment, but isn’t that the case for most things that actually end up making money? This is where things get interesting.
Suddenly Starkill are raking in enough to boost their Facebook ads significantly, since starting a Patreon they have been able to more than double their advertising budget. This has created recursive feedback because the more they advertise the more people are going to find out about their Patreon and the more people find out about their Patreon the more money they will make. Suddenly you go from just being some asshole with a Youtube channel to someone creating branded content that helps to fund what you truly love to do – your music. You have made the next step in making your music a brand and not just some assholes begging for cash. You are providing concrete and solid content in return for payment, and the best part is the bulk of the stuff isn’t hidden behind a paywall, so people can start to dig in before they wind up being invested. Suddenly content models for bands are radically altered and the music, while the centerpiece, is no longer obligated to be the regular income generator.
This is perfect for bands like Starkill who relied for a long time on touring income.
Then when they have a string of bad luck with agents screwing them out of tours and tours being canceled they know that there is still money coming into the band account and helping them to grow their presence. Remember that and realize that when it comes down to it, being able to get your shit in front of a million people is a key. The key to remember is that you’re not asking for money for your music but you are asking for money to facilitate your creation of music. It’s a subtle difference but one that implies that you are giving something beyond just forty five minutes of pretty sounds every 700 days. I know that sounds really bitter, but when you look at it, and you realize that this gives you a chance to develop not just your band but the entirety of your lifestyle then suddenly the hard work that goes into this alternative Patreon model seems a lot more worth it.
Realize too that you don’t just need to create videos or art or anything of that nature.
While those mediums certainly provide a lot of flexibility there are other pieces of content you can tie in. For example my clients in Pilgrim are creating role playing game content in order to generate income. Then they, like Starkill, plan on including all sorts of fun band content in order to tie things back into the band. As much as they might enjoy creating the Patreon content I think it’s key to keep the band at the forefront because that way you are keeping your eyes on the prize. It’s great too when you can do something like Pilgrim and find way to create content that ties right into your bands brand. Another idea would be for a video game centric band to release a new level of a game they are creating every week. I know that’s high falutin’ but I think you see where I’m trying to go with all of this – this is how you monetize your marketing.
At the end of the day – figuring out how to make money with your godawful band is always going to be hard and a lot of these Patreons require a tooon of upfront work or a huge up front investment in order to create something that gives you income down the line. This isn’t exactly something that you can quickly throw together just because you feel like it. You also can’t just imitate lot of the bullshit bigger bands do. You need to find a consistent way to fund your content and then be able to use that in order to keep things driving forward and taking advantage of bold new horizons that can fund your band and allow you to reach heights that you never before thought possible. Patreon is the future if you do it right.