San Francisco startup Patreon, which lets fans of musicians, artists, and other independent creators pledge money on an ongoing basis to fund creative works, has come up with a powerful idea: More than 1 million patrons are on track to provide $150 million in total funding this year. Now the company is launching a portfolio of tools to help the creators who'll receive that money to use it to run their businesses like . . . well, businesses.
Among the new offerings, which are being rolled out along with a new logo and general branding refresh:
• "Lens" is a Snapchat Stories-style mobile app that lets creators share behind-the-scenes moments with paying fans.
• A partnership with live-streaming company Crowdcast will allow creators to stream video, also with the ability to limit the audience to patrons.
• Additional functionality will help creators provide early access to their new content, such as "tomorrow's comic today," to patrons.
• "Patron Relationship Manager" is a dashboard for tracking fans and monitoring how ongoing interactions with them turn into funding for future projects.
Patreon CEO Jack Conte told me that these launches are a direct reaction to the fact that some users are raising tens of thousands of dollars on the platform: "As the type of creator who's using Patreon has scaled—as people are using the platform to start and run a full-blown media operation—we're starting to realize that we've got to step up our game a little bit."