The Rise of Patreon: A Medici for a New Medium
The crowd-funding platform, Patreon (founded in 2013), has become widely used among a variety of different kinds of web-based artists, but perhaps most prominently among YouTubers. Those who subscribe to numerous channels have likely noticed recent plugs to become a patron by pledging money to support new content – many of you may have surely already become patrons to some. Being a medium that is only now truly beginning to carve out its cultural importance, the significance that Patreon has had in this YouTube paradigm shift cannot be understated. More and more artists are now being enabled to support themselves financially off of their web videos, which has allowed them the time and freedom to devote themselves fully to this work without needing day-jobs, and therefore the quality of their work has been able to increase. This has proven to be of particular importance since the recent changing of the rules for traditional YouTube Partnerships, to which the vast majority of creators have agreed that they are no longer being benefited, thus leading them to sign up for Patreon accounts.
Discuss the brief history of the company so far, the intricacies of its business model, and the influence it has had in developing and cultivating YouTube as a new artistic frontier. How is this method of fundraising reminiscent of past models of artistic patronage (from the Medici family of Renaissance Florence to the Nielsen rating system that has dictated the success and failure of television programming since the late 1940s), and how is it unique to the new online ecosystem that it is inhabiting? What might its rising success and bold legitimising of YouTube artistry mean for the future of conventional media channels, such as film, television, and print? Might there be long-term consequences to this format if it continues to expand at its current rate?
Given how new all of this is, and how rapidly the changes are occurring, it is especially interesting to analyse the implications of what has already happened in these early stages to attempt predictions at where it might lead.
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