Should I subscribe to my friends' Patreons?
December 10, 2018 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Me: sellout tech job. Friends: fulltime artists. Cool or uncool to support their patreons?

I have a sellout day job, which I keep in part so that I can support the arts. Now I have become part of a scene full of indie artists, musicians, and misc creators, many of whom are the struggling, hustling, Patreon-having-type. I want to support them, but I don't want it to make things weird the next time we run into each other at an event. What's the etiquette here? Is it cool to support a friendly acquaintance's Patreon? Is it weird? Is it cool but only over/under a certain amount? I don't feel weird at all throwing in for a kickstarter, but somehow this seems different.
posted by hishtafel to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Cool. $20 a month doesn't create weirdness so I'd pitch there or under.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2018 [12 favorites]

It's cool. Do it.

I have a number of friends who are working musicians, and I try to support their music, buy albums, go to shows, etc. I do it both because I like their music, and because I want to help them succeed.
posted by SansPoint at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you're doing something like paying them sufficient money for them to subsist on via Patreon, then they are effectively your employee, which makes it difficult to maintain a friendship.

If you're giving them $25/mo or $50/mo, I have no idea why this would be a problem. The correct response for them is, "thank you" and your correct response to that is, "you're welcome".
posted by saeculorum at 2:14 PM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

I have Patreon pledges for a couple of friends and friends-of-friends. It is not weird at all. I usually pick the level that will get me whatever bonus stuff there is to be had, which is rarely above $10. Despite the name of the site, the effect is much more like "subscribing to cool project [your friend] does" rather than "bestowing wealth upon starving artists."
posted by superfluousm at 2:16 PM on December 10, 2018 [11 favorites]

You can give anonymously on Patreon, if you like -- creators get all the benefits, you feel none of the weirdness.
posted by halation at 2:17 PM on December 10, 2018 [26 favorites]

Very cool.
posted by parmanparman at 2:18 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

I support some friends' Patreons as well as the occasional Kickstarter/IndyGoGo/GoFundMe and it's never seemed uncool or awkward. Well, sometimes it's been awkward, but that's on the side of the person asking for money for $THING. I try not to be churlish and always kick in a few bucks if I feel able.

I agree with others that if you were supporting someone to the point where they couldn't continue their work without you, then it would definitively change the relationship. You'd be literally their patron at that point. And there might be worse things if they're making great art or whatever, but you'd have to really consider the implications of it for both sides of the equation.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:21 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been a recipient of such largesse. Go for it , it's what Patreon is for. People who are uncomfortable with it don't start Patreon accounts.
posted by twoplussix at 2:35 PM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

I mean, the thing is literally called Patreon.
posted by parm at 2:43 PM on December 10, 2018 [14 favorites]

It's cool to support your friends and I think you should subscribe. It is not weird. I would also recommend subscribing at perhaps the lowest level that gets you the perks you want. Then supplement your support by further purchasing their art.

I think the danger is at the end of your support, not the beginning. If you've been giving $XX to your friend every month for several years, and decide to reallocate your giving, how will they take it? Answers will vary.

Depending on the size of the group you're thinking of, and the scale of the support you're giving, it may also be weird If you subscribe to several of your friends in the scene, but not to others. If there's five of us at the bar and I'm the only person you're not subscribed to, I'm going to question what I did wrong.
posted by matrixclown at 2:44 PM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

Anybody bringing into social conversation that I supported them via Patreon, I'd probably stop doing it! It's not for bragging rights and it's tacky to talk about in front of other people.
posted by praemunire at 2:46 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Friends supporting my art mean a ton. 100% cool. The coolest.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:40 PM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

Extra cool.
posted by quince at 4:25 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Artist here - was so grateful when friends supported an online fundraiser - totally great to do this! And if you're inclined post about it on social media and boost their bandwidth - this is great support .
posted by leslies at 5:02 PM on December 10, 2018

Most of my Patreon & similar supporters have been friends. Hell, many of us in our position tend to look at our friends in your position and wish they'd be more supportive. Go for it!
posted by divabat at 6:05 PM on December 10, 2018

My mom, my sister, and several friends support me on Patreon. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! I say go for it.
posted by sucre at 6:52 PM on December 10, 2018

I love Patreon. It makes it easy to show support for my creative friends. I would say the amount should be at least the minimum to get the patreon benefits, but not so much that you are the largest donor.
posted by hworth at 7:47 PM on December 10, 2018

Not only is it cool for you to use your tech job income to support your struggling friends' art this way, it's fantastic. Better yet, if you know of others who might appreciate your friends' work enough to pitch in as a patron, forward the Patreon links around and put in a good word for them! The artists will appreciate you helping to get the word out about their work.

When I had a Patreon, unfortunately most of my patrons were other writers and artists living on shoestring budgets. They needed the money at least as badly as I do, and probably more. And in some cases I had pledged to their Patreons too because I love their work and believe in supporting the arts, so our mutual pledges sort of canceled each other out. All of us often wished we had better ways to reach potential patrons who were more comfortable, as it would have taken some of the pressure off.

It meant so much to us when a friend with a tech job and a comfortable salary pledged $20-25/mo that we knew would be no problem for their budget. If that patron had told a few of their other tech friends about our work, and they had told their friends, and so on, that would have been great. More pledges = more time for us to make art!
posted by velvet winter at 9:02 PM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Wtf, this isn't Rent! And Rent was made in the 90s. Times are hard and the world is probably gonna end soon, may as well help make yourself and others happier with your support. Throw as much money as you can at your friends. I am someone who is studying web design so I can get a sell out tech job so I can throw more money at my art and my friends, and so I could eventually open a small publishing company. I will love if my sell out tech friends contribute to my Patreon (if I had one!) Do it! And if you want more Patreons to throw money at, I got a lot of recommendations for you!
posted by yueliang at 9:32 PM on December 10, 2018

All of the very few Patreons/Kickstarters/et al. I've joined have been to show support to friends. I've been in the position of wanting to create full-time and having to count every penny and that's about the most stressful thing.

I agree that a token amount isn't weird. If you're a person who says, "it's OK, you can get me next time/next time I'm unemployed/when I'm living on Social Security" but would rather give a gift than a loan, maybe contribute a bit more.

Nthing it all. It's a lovely way to address wealth inequity too.
posted by bendy at 11:09 PM on December 10, 2018

Every so often, I go through my "budget" for Patreon and usually increase the amounts or add someone new. Many of these people are my friends but they're my friends because I like their work. I generally pledge about $15-25 per person.

I agree that at this range, it's enough money that it's significant (there have been many days were $20 made a huge difference in my life) but not so much that they're overly dependent on just my pledge.

I am lucky right now to be making pretty good money and it makes me happy I can share it in such a way.
posted by darksong at 4:58 AM on December 11, 2018

All I want is for my friends to support my Patreon. Beyond cool, not awkward.
posted by h00py at 5:40 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Patreon isn't charity and shouldn't make anyone feel weird. You are paying for a service (the pleasure of their art). You wouldn't expect to drink for free in a friend's bar, or live for free in a friend's apartment.
posted by MattD at 6:40 AM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Not weird at all- before Patreon you wouldn't have thought twice on paying a cover charge to see a friend in a band, or shelling out for theatre tickets to see an acquaintance in a play.
posted by Dwardles at 8:46 AM on December 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok ok, I hear you! lol

Epilogue: subscribed to friend's Patreon, immediately got a text from them saying "OMG You are so nice!!!"
posted by hishtafel at 5:12 PM on December 13, 2018 [7 favorites]

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