This week we catch up with Gee Linford-Grayson – UK & Ireland Creator Partnerships at Patreon.
Launched in 2013, Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for creators to run a subscription service and get paid regularly, reliably and fairly for the rewards and perks they offer to their fans.
To date, Patreon has paid out over $2 billion (USD) to creators globally. In the UK alone, more than £50 million was paid out to creators in 2020; while payouts to UK musicians nearly quadrupled last year, and are expected to grow significantly as more artists, music makers and DJs develop communities on the platform.
My name’s Gee, I’m a born and bred Londoner (one of the many who now populate East Berlin, where Patreon Europe is based). I’ve spent the majority of my career working in events programming, most recently at Soho House in the UK and Berlin. At Patreon, I look after Creator Partnerships in UK & Ireland, which means my role is to help creators get the most out of the platform, from the initial ideas stage to building their membership and launching it to the world.
I’ve looped slowthai’s new album TYRON more times than I can count in recent weeks, although I feel like I’m slightly torturing myself at this point because now I’m just desperate to see it performed live. There’s also been a fair bit of bedroom dancing to Shygirl’s Tasty and basking in the waves of nostalgia for bygone summers that all Gregory Dillon’s music evokes.
That would be the last gig I organised in my previous life as an events programmer- Kelis performing at Soho House Berlin for International Women’s Day 2020. As you can imagine, she was incredible and iconic – I’ve never seen that place so busy which probably tells you how little we foresaw what was coming next.
The Patreon team has been really busy working to support as many creators as possible who are looking for additional revenue streams, particularly musicians. Our payouts to UK musicians almost quadrupled last year and overall we paid out more than $1 billion to creators, with £50 million to creators in the UK alone. With that kind of rapid growth there have definitely been challenges, but as a company we’re all hugely inspired by the adaptability and innovation of the creators we work with. When you hear stories of how Patreon income has allowed a band to pay their touring crew during lockdown, enabled a musician to take a mental health break, or covered an artist’s rent, it’s easy to put in the hours and do what you can to support.
In terms of how we’ve adapted our services, in 2020 we opened up an office in Berlin so that we can work with European creators in their own timezones. We organised creator meet ups online to help everyone stay connected, including an inspiring collaboration with Black Creators Matter who brought together a panel of Black women to share their experience and advice with the next generation. Partnerships with creative communities in Europe, as with MMF, have enabled us to put a human face to Patreon’s name during a time where we can’t meet in person, and hopefully made personal support more accessible to those who are looking.
As soon as you notice superfans in the artist’s community- these are the people most likely to support an artist on Patreon. You know the fans who have been to every show, have all the merch and are the first to know about anything that artist does. These are the fans who would love to pay for bonus content, a closer connection to the artist or just for the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting that artist’s work. Even if the artist has a small community to begin with, Patreon is a great way to deepen that connection with superfans.
From my perch at Patreon, there are a couple of positive things I can see happening already. The first is more fans supporting artists directly. As well as an increase of creators joining Patreon, we’ve seen a huge influx of fans jumping at the opportunity to join their memberships- 7 million fans in fact!
The other positive change that I’ve been hearing more and more from musicians is that whilst adapting to the last year has been a challenge, it’s given them flexibility for the future. I spoke to a DJ the other day who used to spend weekends flying around Europe to gigs, travelling more than they would have liked, and then spending the week exhausted before doing it all again. They were getting to burn out point. Now they’re focussing on mentorship and other music related projects through Patreon, they can be more selective about the gigs they really want to do in the future.
Just that we’re here to support you and your artists as much we can- whether you want to book in a call with me to ask questions/get some Patreon guidance, or just have someone look over a Patreon page before you press “launch”. It’s been such a pleasure to virtually meet so many MMF members over the past few weeks, and my inbox and calendar is always open for any of you.