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Patreon raises $60 million because fans still pay for content

Courtesy of Patreon

An art industry startup is doing what many media companies believe is impossible: Attracting consumers who want to pay for content. Patreon, which lets artists charge fees for their work, today announced that it has raised $60 million in a new funding round led by Thrive Capital.

How it works: Borrowing from the idea of patronage, Patreon's creators can collect membership fees from their fans (or patrons) in exchange for access to exclusive art or content. This year, the company will pay out $150 million in earnings to its 50,000 creators.

Why it matters: "I think we're seeing a shift in the entire ecosystem where people are realizing that they're sick of clickbait," Carlos Cabrera, Patreon's VP of data science and operations, told Axios. "The current systems are really bad at promoting great stuff."

  • Patreon co-founder and CEO Jack Conte is intimately acquainted with the challenges artists face—he's a musician himself, performing as one half of music duo Pomplamoose.
  • And yet, changing consumers' mindset is still a big challenge for Patreon, said Cabrera.

Deal details: Index Ventures, CRV, Freestyle, and DFJ are also participating in the round, which brings Patreon's total funding to $100 million. Last week, TechCrunch reported that Patreon is raising funding at a $450 million valuation, although Axios is told that this isn't accurate.