"patreon has no true competitors" article & summary

Hey! thought y’all should see this article, “patreon has no true competitors” - I’m going around and sending it to all patreon competitors I can find. Hopefully it either gives you an opportunity to say “hey wait, we can do all those things!” to the author, or can inspire feature development! siderea | How to Compete with Patreon [New Media, Tech, Patreon]

AI generated overview (not a replacement for the article, which is quite detailed, just an overview to motivate why I’m linking it/why I think it’s worth reading):

  • Patreon has no true competitors because other platforms fail to understand Patreon’s key features and value propositions for creators, such as supporting pseudonyms and confidential identities.
  • An important Patreon feature is the “by-work” funding model where patrons pledge per creation rather than monthly, without commitments on output from creators.
  • Effective creator-patron platforms must keep creator identities like wallet names confidential.
  • Patreon’s audience relationship management system and API have room for improvement to better serve creators.
  • Payment processing fees have historically posed a challenge for micropayments online, which Patreon addressed through bundling small pledges.
  • Patreon’s underlying operations handling multiple funding models and variations are immensely complicated.
  • Competitors could outperform Patreon by focusing on simplicity through a minimal viable product that addresses core needs.
  • Patreon’s technology choices have not always prioritized accessibility and inclusiveness.
  • Supporting the basic patronage model alone presents significant challenges.
  • There is opportunity for a platform that improves upon Patreon’s weaknesses while capturing the essence of what makes it valuable to creators.

Hopefully this is of use. If not, close away!

1 Appreciation

Thanks for sharing, and welcome! I wish we could just say that we already are a solution, but we’re struggling to get there. However, we do have the vision that fits. Anyway, some quick contextual thoughts:

By-works funding model support

They started out focusing on that, and it was clearly the main distinguishing feature. I still appreciate this aspect, but it can bring up some weird incentives and make it hard to publish work of very different scope (e.g. a journalist who sometimes writes just a hot-take editorial but other times does a year of dangerous field work in order to report on something). There are reasons more projects ended up falling back to the monthly approach (which they only added after some pressure but which now dominates).

[non] quid pro quo patronage

This author seems to misunderstand the incentives of the status quo and of Patreon overall. Because there is no collective-action/coordination/cooperation mechanism in Patreon, the unilateral decision to join as a patron vs freeride is weaker and ends up falling back on being a pay-wall service. This was predictable from the beginning even as some projects focus on public goods really, that is a tiny fraction of the site. Because Patreon didn’t prioritize and work specifically with the goal of serving public goods, they naturally ended up focusing on freemium projects with lots of special exclusive patron-only club-goods.

Any competitor that doesn’t address the collective-action dilemma will either fail or end up in the same place as Patreon.

audience relationship management system

Well, that is much more complex than it might seem. We envisioned such a thing early on, and I have to admit the scope to do this right is not small.

The core missing point in this critique is understanding what amount of resources it actually takes to run something as mediocre as Patreon. This stuff is not easy, and they used all the millions of dollars of VC investment to get to their mediocre state. There’s no evidence they used it badly or squandered it. It still wasn’t enough for them to be amazing, and the need to give the investors a big return is the main driving factor in their more-troubling directions. So, there’s no easy way for a competitor to show up and somehow have the resources to compete without also having similar perverse incentives.

Of course, all this would be much easier for everyone if we didn’t have a grotesque corrupt financial system overall. If banks and related didn’t take a massive cut of the entire economy, that would change a lot of these issues. (And personally, I still don’t see cryptocurrency solving this for various reasons).

Anyway, Snowdrift Wiki - Other Crowdfunding / Fundraising Services has a list of competitors that is not short, and there’s commentary about Patreon and others and problems like the paywall-service aspect of it. FWIW, that page is our most popular and keeps getting linked by people when Patreon does something that pisses off its users.

1 Appreciation

I have to say I was a little surprise when I read :

because virtually nobody uses Patreon in France. For instance, youtubers use mostly Tipeee, and some use the new Youtube subscription system.

I took a look at this market share estimation and it does seem Patreon has 36.16% of the crowdfunding market.