I’ll get right to it: I’ve added ads to my youtube videos, will be doing the same for my site and am charging for digital purchases of my music (which has been Pay What You Want/Can for years).
Phew, there, I said it. It’s something I never imagined I’d do, and I’m still becoming accustomed to the idea and my feelings around it.
How many/most people make money on the internet
Much of the internet is built on the advertising model. You get free stuff (facebook, videos, blogs, information, music, etc) and in exchange are shown ads which make revenue for the platforms and creators.
This model sucks, because we end up being bombarded by ads from all angles, all the time! Also, companies build platforms and apps with addictiveness built in, so we’ll keep coming back and increasing their revenue from ads.
Not so nice…
Here’s some good news though
there is lovely forward movement in this area. Sites like Patreon, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others allow creators to reach out directly to their community and say, “Hey, if you love my stuff, please support me directly so I can make more of it happen.” (I’ve seen creators on Patreon removing ads from their sites when they reach certain milestones and I’m going to do the same).
So, why am I now putting ads in places I never wanted to put them?
Simply put: money.
I am not making enough money from Patreon alone.
The first year and a half, there was generally consistent monthly growth (shown in the graph below). If things had continued that way, I wouldn’t be writing this post, heh.
My experimental existence
This whole modern troubadour life is a total experiment for me. I try things out, learn as I go along and make oh so many mistakes.
I see now that it was an error to ‘put all my eggs in one basket’, as the saying goes. I assumed things would continue as they were, and I’d soon be making a sustainable amount through Patreon, enough to pay for my general expense, record my new songs professionally…and even to eventually contribute to a family of my own.
What has happened is that, for whatever reason, the numbers have slowed and then reversed. As of this month, my Patreon is the lowest it’s been since May 2015, over a year ago.
Haha, we live and learn, yay!
Now that I realise my mistake, I am looking into options for creating more revenue streams.
How I’m adding revenue
- I’m very excited to begin working with a booking agent called The Project Room. From December onwards, I will be touring and playing festivals back in my birth country of South Africa! Woohooo!
- My digital music on bandcamp now has a price tag. As I increase and stabilise my income I look forward to being able to offer my music for Pay What You Can pricing again, so that no one is limited by their financial situation. I have been made aware of the healing power of my songs and stories, and want them available to whoever needs them.
- I am adding ads to youtube videos, soundcloud songs and my website.
I have ideas for merchandise (can’t afford that yet), public speaking (soon, yay), webcast education for other creatives (this excites me so much) and more, but those top three are the most instantaneous changes everyone will be seeing!
WHAT IS MY PERFECT SITUATION?
In my perfect world, a few hundred more people from my global community would be pledging on Patreon.
If just 700 of the 100’s of thousands of people who love my music around the world pledged, none of this would be necessary 😘.
My happiest heart space is giving out my art freely and with loving abandon: sharing, connecting, growing together, knowing that whoever can afford to will support, and whoever can’t still gets to experience all of the art they need!
To me, Patreon is a perfect opportunity to grow the trust which exists between artists and audiences (no fancy marketing, no gimmicks, no pretence: just an honest and humble exchange of value). What a beautiful gardens we can grow together.
As one of my top long-term patrons emailed me recently:
“I will continue to support you for the simple reason that if your music can bring one other person, somewhere in the world, the same comfort [as it brought me], then it’s all worthwhile.”
Seeing reality, as it is
As the meditation teacher Goenka says: “See the reality as it is, not as you wish it to be.”
So, the reality is that currently most people who love my music can’t afford to, or choose not to, pledge on Patreon.
Perhaps the platform is too new, perhaps people prefer the old way of having a physical product in exchange for money, perhaps I just don’t have enough listeners, perhaps most people are struggling and $1 is just too much for them (this is all ok).
I don’t know the reasons…but I do know that I can’t wait for things to change, I’ve gotta change my own approach instead :).
IMPORTANT: things are already incredible
I am daily thankful that I make almost $1300 per month thanks to generous people around the world. This time two years ago I was working three part-time jobs in London…so trust me, I know how epic this already is!
Also, I am happy to be partnering with several lovely companies who help me out with valuable exchanges, like Eagle Creek Gear, Three Mobile UK, Spacebox Storage, Fusion Gig Bags and Superfoods! Big ups y’all, you smooth the ride big time!
UPDATES FOR PATRONS ON PATREON
As of today, there are a few changes on my Patreon page.
The main one is that all new creations will now be shared on Patreon one full week ahead of the rest of the world.
This is just another way for me to say thank you to the incredible humans who generously support my art, cos I frickin’ LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!!
There are a few other changes, and I’m working on a new video too, so check out my Patreon page for the shifts (and let me know if anything looks weird).
That’s all for now folks, sorry for the slightly long post today and thank you for your epic presence in my universe, I’m excited to see where we can carry this together.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas and look forward to hearing from you if you have anything you’d like to share.
PS: in writing this, I’ve assumed that you are one of the people who values music enough to believe it’s a ‘real job’. If you’re one of those who thinks creativity isn’t valuable in the ‘lawyer/doctor/farmer’ sense, please enjoy your silent life of grey mundanity elsewhere. (I also think you’re lying if you tell me that music has not given reference and definition to some of the most poignant moments in your life…so, you better bloody well be valuing the artists who gave their time and passion to bringing that art into your world).
PPS: finally, if you can afford $1, please support my art, I need you as much as you need honest art: http://patreon.com/natemaingard.