a big important email about upcoming new patreon tiers & more. read it & comment.
(public post, but very important for patrons to read & respond)
**tl;dr summary, if you don’t have time to read this whole long-ass post: after nearly three years of experimenting with and learning about patreon, i’m redesigning the cover page, launching a new video, opening up some new higher-level tiers, and restructuring some things. the changes are going to be subtle but important, and i want everyone’s input and feedback**
okay my loves.
i just got back from south africa, where the shows were both KILLER (although the show in joburg had some of the worst acoustic problesm i’ve ever dealt with in my career). for any of you who came to the patreon from south africa – WELCOME. i’m so glad your’e here.
i have three days to myself at home with no baby (he’s still in cape town with neil)…it’s just me me me at a desk and i’m going to crack my own head open and write a surprise-something that i’m excited to share with you….but it may take a while to write, to make.
art, business. dude. the patreon is also really important, so imma take some time to write this, because without this, it’s a lot harder to make art….any art.
and i’ll try to keep this short, but that’s going to be hard. so sorry. it’s long.
i read through all the comments on THIS post from a few weeks back. there were over 1,100 COMMENTS (holy fuck) and a lot of them were so thoughtful, so beautiful, so astute…you guys are really quite amazing.
it took me a full few days to read everything.
one thing i’d like to stop and say is how completely revolutionary i find this whole system, and a reminder to all of us: NOBODY ELSE IS DOING THIS quite in this way. this is literally the wild west and y’all+me are pioneers out here in this art-business collision, trying to figure out how to make patronage work. a
nd as lonely as it feels to not be able to call up the other indie rockers who have 11,000 patrons and say “how did you do this? what do you think about this?”…i feel like we are doing something so fundamentally GOOD by working all these kinks out so that other musicians and artists can learn what we learn. this is the fucking future and it’s truly beautiful how we are able to do all this without the help of record labels, radio, the media, the whole nine yards of culture-forcers and middlemen.
it’s astonishing. so yeah. i know you know. but just don’t forget how new and groundbreaking and awesome this all is.
here were my main/most important impressions from the comments, in no particular order of importance:
-i get so obsessed with my songwriting and videos and releases that i forget how much the blogging and comments and spontaneous internet-community means to people. so many people commented “i love your work but the most important thing to me is to be connected/to read your posts/to read the comments/to be A PART of this family”. many people commented that seeing me doing nighttime readings of “goodnight moon” during the tragic news cycles last year was hugely important to them….who knew. i will try not to take this for granted. it’s funny. as an artist, your ego sort of needs to believe that capital-A Art comes first first first and everything else is just fun and noise. i know that it isn’t true and that this family, this community of people in itself, is so profound. so yeah: heard, noted, and humbled.
-patreon’s problems are still problems. the app isn’t perfect. things crash. the commenting system truly sucks and doesn’t make for good connection and conversation. i know. i agree. i’m working on it.
-more than a few people noted that the memorial tributes with jherek’s string arrangements are gorgeous…but starting to sound a little repetitive. duly noted.
-YOU WANT A “REAL” ALBUM. so many people said this. i’m in, people. i’m going to start working on a real-ass album (using many of the patreon demos as a starting point) for 2019. and i’ll do a world tour. jump up and down. i am. i am. i am.
-a lot of you posted: “REST! TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! WE WILL WAIT FOR THINGS”. oh man. from this workaholic: thank you so much for giving a shit about me, the person. you can’t know how much you all saying that actually means to me. and i’ll address that exact thing below, when i talk about how i’m going to fiddle with the patreon and the way i put out Things.
the majority of you weren’t here when i launched this patreon back in 2015. the very first day of my patreon (march 3, 2015), the record shows that by a month in over 4,000 people joined up. it’s just grown from there. i posted a lot back in those good old days – and in the days leading up – about why i was choosing to use patreon, and how i came to the conclusions that i did about what the tiers would be. i’d learned so many lessons from my kickstarter (so, so many lessons….it’s a books’ worth of painfully-won knowledge), and two of the main things i took away were this, and the basics still apply:
1 – you want to support me, not buy me or own me. this isn’t a store or a factory where i am for sale, or the art is for sale. and i’m not a salesperson, and i don’t want to fucking be one. i’m an artist, a writer, a thinker, a sharer. it isn’t so much about the actual “rewards”, although those are important, because some people do want Special Things, and showing gratitude via Special Things makes me feel like a real person, and a good person…it’s about the art i’m capable of making, it’s about my freedom as an artist, and about people wanting me to make and share that free-art with the whole world, not just to an exclusive bunch of fans and supporters.
2 – sending physical goods in the mail to thousands of people is a huge energy/time/money drain and pain in the ass and way more complicated than anybody could possibly dream. my whole team learned this lesson the hard way. delivering thousands of different packages (sometimes multiple packages, to different addresses) to tens of thousands of people around the globe wound up costing literally hundreds of thousands of dollars more than my team ever expected. we just didn’t realize how crazy it would be. i was completely cavalier (amanda’s bright idea: “why not just offer free international shipping? i bet the amount of orders we get will cover the difference!!!” the retrospective answer: “because it will literally cost you over one hundred thousand dollars, idiot.”)…
…because of this, you’ll note that the ONLY physical deliverable in my patreon right now is the hand-written postcards that go to the $100+ backers. that’s it. and even that takes a full few days out of my year to do…though i love doing it (and shopping for antique postcards in foreign countries has become one of my new favorite past-times).
quickly, here are the tiers as they currently stand:
$1 – you get access to the posts, early access to tickets, and downloads of some of the releases (when i feel like it).
$3 - this tier gets all the downloads of ALL the content, including videos, all songs, everything.
$5 - the random surprise bonus-content tier – this tier has been getting bonus content, bonus demos and weird voicemails, occasional extra livestreams, and other flotsam and jetsam.
$10 – webcast/chat tier – this tier has access to the webchats that i do about every other month, though i’m hoping to bump this up to more like once a month now that we’ve got a (great, finally functioning!!) livestream platform. this group is also sort of like my board: i got to them first with ideas about changes to the patreon and for advice, since people here are so clearly committed and tuned into my work.
$100 - these people are my old-school angels and this tier has been capped at 30 and i am going to leave it that way. most people in this tier are hardcore supporters who have been here since the beginning and the turnover has been very small – and there’s a long waiting list for this tier. these folks get access to the guest list at any of my shows, i send them handwritten postcards and sometimes surprise signed merch (for instance: everybody here got a “mother/in harms way” 7″ vinyl signed and mailed to whoever they wanted)…they get concierge service when there’s events and shows, etc.
$1,000 tier. the “Holy Shit” tier. the “come have dinner with me anywhere” tier. when i began, i limited it to 5, because i didn’t want to have my schedule eaten. five people signed up, but as they dropped off one by one (mostly for financial reasons) i kept locking the tier down, until there was only one person left. i got sort of scared, and got PR cold feet, frankly. i was afraid that people would look at my patreon from the outside and judge. and i figured it was more important to build the patreon democratically, with my $1 and $3 patrons, than deal with the guilt of having larger donors. don’t ask me why i was guilty. i should have read my own book. i’m going to open this one back up.
i’ve been talking with my team for the past two years about how we can reward patrons at new upper levels, and we’ve been very conservative about offering to send ANYTHING in the snail-mail because of the amount of time and energy it takes. remember when we sent EVERYONE AN ART CARD in the mail? well…that was also an experiment to see if the tech would work, how much it would tax the team, and how long it would take, and what the bugs were.
and it went ok! and people loved loved loved getting art in the mail. so we think we can do it. thus, we’re gonna add ART IN THE MAIL to the the upper tiers,
not much about the old tiers is going to change, although i’m going to re-word their descriptions, and i’m going to give the tiers new, official titles to keep things simpler.
and i’m also going to ADD three new tiers.
THIS IS THE NEW PLAN:
$1 – PATRON – staying the same: access to posts, emails from me, pre-sale tickets, patron-only events and webcasts, and most importantly, you’re HERE.
$3 - DOWNLOAD TIER – staying the same – all of the above, plus lots of private links to downloads of demos, videos, and other content.
$5 – BONUS SURPRISE TIER – staying the same – all of the above and random surprises in your inbox, recordings, voice memos, little videos, fun things, and some surprise webchats.
$10 – WEBCHAT TIER – staying the same – access to the webchats that i do, where we talk about art, life, the patreon, the music, and everything else…about once a month.
$25 – **NEW** ART-IN-THE-MAIL TIER – to thank you for your high level of patronage, you’ll get to opt-in to receive Art in the Mail. this Art will include AFP-related prints, cards and other creative flat things we can fit in an envelope several times a year (SOCKS??), including one around the holidays. i’m excited that this extra dough will also go to support the visual artists and makers in our community, because i’ll be able to commission them to make work just for this tier. spreading the love…as the national endowment for the art disappears, we’ll pick up the flack. ideas for Art in the Mail are welcome!!
$75 – **NEW** SIGNED-ART-IN-THE-MAIL + GUEST LIST TIER – (unlimited) same as above, but your art-in-the-mail can be signed and personalized (to whoever you want) by yours truly should you wish. we will also give you access to the guest list whenever you want, +1.
$100 - THE POSTCARD + GUEST LIST TIER – (limited to 30) – *mostly* staying the same, but y’all (surprise!!!) will now ALSO be getting Art in the Mail. because you deserve it. plus the postcards as usual, hand-written n’ licked by me, a few times a year. and guest list +1 anywhere anytime.
$250 – **NEW** EVERYTHING-IN-THE-MAIL + GUEST LIST TIER – all of the above, all the art in the mail, guest list anywhere +2, AND 365-concierge access (and helpful emails from us) anytime there is new merchandise. you pick what you want – from a shirt in your size or your partner’s size, to vinyl, to the new poster to a tote to a rare print we are selling only in japan – it’s all yours. if i can sign it (some things are hard to sign) i’ll sign it. we won’t automatically send you all this shit, we’ll just let you know it’s available and you can opt-in.
$1,000 – THE ANGEL PATRONS – this is staying the same, but i’m opening it up again. you’ll get everything – signed art in the mail, guest list, any merch you’d like signed and sent wherever you’d like, and we will talk about how to connect in person. it’ll depend where you live, but we’ll find a way. i’m not afraid of you anymore, fabulously -rich-people-with-disposable-income-for-art. i’m embracing you. come on in and spend your money here, it’s a pretty good cause.
if all goes well, we will be launching ALL of this within the next few weeks – hopefully in the first half of march.
i’m really excited about Art in the Mail – i imagine we are going to get quite creative with what we stick in these envelopes. and there’s also always so much amazing fine art – from things like the david mack and sarah beetson images to the gorgeous photographs (like machete)…we will be drowning in beautiful stuff to print and mail.
ok. now, part two.
this is a little complicated to explain, so ima go slow.
when i first dug into the idea of launching a patreon, i struggled for a good YEAR about how to do it, what to offer, where to set the tiers. i also struggled with the decision about whether to use the “per month” or “per thing” system. i remember having endless discussions with twitter and my blog and also talking to jack, the founder of patreon, about the pros and cons of both.
as usual, 99% of the fans were like: whatever. we’ll support you either way. go forth.
but i found myself thinking: if i charge my fans every month, what happens if i want to go to an ashram in india or an igloo in antarctica for four months and DO NOTHING and MAKE NO ART? can i pause it? the answer from patreon: nope. you can’t suspend/pause it.
i found myself thinking: is it ethical to let my fans support me for four months while i sit in that ashram, meditating on the nature of the universe, getting ready to blaze back to society ready to kick some punk rock ass? what if it’s more than four months? what if it’s four YEARS? do i really want to be sitting in an igloo or an ashram quietly thinking “i wonder when my patrons are going to start abandoning me”? i decided the pressure of “per month” would just suck.
i also thought about it this way: a “thing” could always be a “month”. but a “month” is unchangeable. i could always decide to just hit the “thing” button on the last day of every month if i decided to go the per-thing route and later change my mind. but a per-month decision would lock me forever to a single way of doing things with no flexibility.
so that’s why i launched the patreon to be Per Thing.
it’s mostly been working, but there was an unexpected problem that i’ve been constantly running into, which is sort of a “time and production” problem.
on the one hand, i thought patreon was going to FREE me from deadlines, timelines, and ever having to plan too much about what i was going to release when. i figured it would just be this magical system where i could put art out in REALTIME as i made it. that wound up being delusional.
i found that projects weren’t coming in on time. projects needed more editing and work. all of a sudden, i had three or four things all colliding in one month – with no content planned for the next month. plus i didn’t want to overload y’all with putting out four totally disparate things all in one week. that meant creating a superficial timeline for when things could come out, just to appease the Gods of The Monthly Cycle (there’s a period joke somewhere in there, but i ain’t gonna make it. though i do think it would be FUCKING AWESOME if patreon would switch to the lunar calendar).
in august, the shit hit the fan and i found myself with No Thing to Thing and my bank account hovering dangerously near zero. and i was like: well, fuck. here i am. i have to make something. so i did what i’d been hoping to do since the launch of the patreon, which was to just fund myself WRITING on a deadline in a studio. and that’s where “drowning in the sound” came from. yes, i’m unashamed to admit it: that song was written because i was scared shitless that i wasn’t going to make rent. and whatever: everything happens for a reason. it’s a fantastic song. but i really didn’t like the feeling of being scared to have a month with No Thing. and i was damn lucky that i had three solid days at the end of that month where i could skeedaddle into the studio and hand the baby over to someone else. it aligned.
in the generally uncomforable-to-discuss-but-i-gotta, y’all should know, and you deserve to know: it costs me in the tens of grands (usually well more than $20k a month) to just keep the lights on and the trains running on time. it sounds like a lot. that’s because it is: i have a full-time staff on payroll, their insurance, my insurance, tour insurance, equipment insurance, the cost of the AFP office rent in brooklyn, all the expenses that go along with that, the website maintenance, the phone bills, i could go on and on. i can’t even proudly boast that i also have to pay for childcare and diapers, neil’s been covering almost all of that – like a fucking boss – since ash was born, so that i can catch up financially. he also pays for most of our food and rent. i’m grateful. i’ll take it. i’m doing a shit ton in the parenting department.
there’s also taxes (insert scream emoji) and there’s also the hidden, yet acceptable, fact that a huge chunk of my net income goes to my manager (15%), speaking and booking and literary agents (10-20% depending on the agent) and accountants (don’t ask, it’s a shitshow). my accountants handed me a bill for $10k in december – just for a month’s work. my eyes bugged out of my fucking head. it’s show business, baby. it’s all the cost of doing business.
why am i telling you all this?
because i’ve decided that it’s probably fair to charge you by the month for all of the costs that it takes to just run the show – for all the intangible work and the long blogs and the stuff that isn’t really “thingable”, but that costs a lot of time and energy.
so: i’ve decided to take the cosmic donut – which i suspect y’all will be okay with offering – and revamp the way i charge you, so that once a month, i charge for the basics of my operation, and apart from (and on top of that) i charge per art-thing. this would feel impossible to do if patreon didn’t have it’s magical cap system. if you’ve already capped your pledge, not much should change. and luckily, most of you HAVE capped your pledges.
if this is confusing, i’ll break it down:
next month (march, when i’ll try to launch this), would have three things
-the collaboration song i cut in south africa with patty munroe (official thing)
-sometime after that, we’ll open up the tiers AND release a new jim batt video for the main patreon page that we made over the summer (we won’t charge for that)…it’s awesome. (so this would NOT be an official thing)
-one of the new solo demo songs i cut in south africa (official thing)
-…and the operating costs of march (which i’ll Thing on the last of the month).
i also think me and the team will owe it to you, when we “thing” the month of march, to post a recap “this is what happened this month” blog to keep you up to speed – all the blogs, the highlights, the social media moments, kind of like a monthly patreon-newsletter of the highlights. that way if you haven’t tuned into the constant patreon emails, you can catch up. i’ll call it something clever. (The State of All Things?)
as you can imagine: this is exciting and also scary for me. but i’m not that scared: i did a long webchat with the $10+ patrons a few weeks ago and talked about the possibility of doing things this way, and explaining it into the ground, because it is a little confusing, and everybody seemed super-supportive of the idea.
and now: i’d love to hear your thoughts.
talk to me about any and all of this.
and if i haven’t said it enough: i love and cherish you all. your support of this patreon has changed my life, changed my art, changed my faith in humanity, and given me the fuel to power through life in a way i never dreamed possible.
i cannot thank you enough for being here.
comment like crazy, even if it’s just to say “u go gurl, sounds good to me”.
p.s. photo taken in the maboneng precint, johannesburg, south africa.
———THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS———
1. if you’re a patron, please click through to comment on this post. at the very least, if you’ve read it, indicate that by using the heart symbol.
2. see All the Things i’ve made so far on patreon: http://amandapalmer.net/patreon-things
3. join the official AFP-patron facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/afpland
4. new to my music and TOTALLY OVERWHELMED? TAKE A WALK THROUGH AMANDALANDA….we made a basic list of my greatest hits n stuff on this lovely page: http://amandalanda.amandapalmer.net/
5. general AFP/patreon-related questions? ask away, someone will answer: