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Metafilter’s freaking out about it, but Jason Kottke’s idea of macropatronage is an interesting one. The idea is essentially that regular folks can sponsor Jason so that he can go about blogging and doing web projects full-time. The write-up:

I’m attempting to revisit the idea of arts patronage in the context of the internet. Patrons of the arts have typically been wealthy individuals, well-heeled foundations, or corporations. As we’ve seen in many contexts, the net allows individuals from geographically dispersed locations to aggregate themselves for any number of reasons. So, when you’ve got a group of people who are interested in a particular artist, writer, etc., they should be able to mobilize over the internet and support that person directly instead of waiting around for the MacArthur Foundation or Cosimo de Medici to do it.

Whether Jason “deserves” to live off of his work or not is ultimately up to fans and supporters, which to me is about as pure as it gets. If you’re not big on him, try to think of an artist you love and ask yourself how much you’d be willing to pay to keep that artist doing his or her thing for the next year or more.

Donations of course aren’t a new idea, but I think the micropatronage term is an interesting switch in the fan/artist dynamic. “Donations” in context of the arts sounds like a tip — “the artist is clearly doing okay on his or her own, but here’s a bit extra.” “Patronage” however sounds more serious — like the work couldn’t have existed without it.

Jason’s doing it for something relatively intangible too, which should be of interest to musicians as the Internet is rapidly making music intangible. If you believe CDs are dying and want artists to resist DRM, the only thing musicians might soon have left under their control is whether new music gets made or not. Maybe micropatronage fits into that somehow.

Posted on - February 22, 2005 [at] 3:50 pm by Brad
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7 Comments on this post

Future Boy on Micropatronage
February 22, 2005 at 7:12 pm

Very interesting indeed. I agree that there needs to be more patronage for the arts. One problem with the internet is getting people to pay attention to you in the first place. If I posted on my website that people giving donations would be going towards supporting my music making I probably wouldn’t receive any more money than I already do (which is none) because I do not have a high profile website. I’d have to go to all the trouble of making my site high profile, which is something I both have no idea how to accomplish and have no great desire to accomplish.

Dave on Micropatronage
February 22, 2005 at 9:50 pm

Interesting…. and ultimately doomed.

Jason in fact lays the seeds to that doom. He says that arts patrons have been typically “wealthy” this and that… and then thinks in terms of MICRO-patronage. There’s good reason for this: it takes alot fo time and effort to convert a WHOLE LOT of micro-donations into one large one. Future Boy hit on part of it.

Sure, there may be a select few who could be successful at this… but since they already made their name, they also probably have no issues with DRM.

Jason on Micropatronage
February 23, 2005 at 10:50 am

It’s already being done. Randy at the comic strip Something Positive ran a drive like this soemtime last year and got enough to replace his yearly salary at his old job. It’s greatif you can do it but it takes an already built-in support group rabid enough to do that. That’s rare, I think. Or maybe rarer than Kottke would like to admit.

JB on Micropatronage
February 23, 2005 at 11:27 am

He’s gotta have enough traffic over there to make him *think* he can pull this off, considering some very low percentage of his audience donating. Personally, I can’t imagine being so in love with a blog that I’d give the dude money for telling me his opinion and reading about dumb crap he does with his life. *shrug* Much more likely that I’ll give an artist money, for songs, or comics, or art, or poems, etc.

victor on Micropatronage
February 23, 2005 at 1:19 pm

Jason’s not a ‘blogger’ — he’s a writer who publishes using a weblog. And not a bad writer, even if not to my stylistic taste. He’ll do fine, and as in the success pvrblog+google ads, a million people will chase the same as a ‘forumla’ for how to make money on the ‘net.

Erik on Micropatronage
February 24, 2005 at 5:57 am

I don’t know, he seems an awful lot like a blogger to me. I’m not some big fanatic of kottke or anything, so scrolled through some of the archives and found 60% to be “Here’s neat stuff found elsewhere on the internet”, about 20% to be “Something got me to thinking about the connections between certain things, and here’s some web research on them”, leaving about 20% to “Stuff I did today” type of post. And really none of it made me think, “Wow, there’s a clever turn of phrase or an interesting take on the subject.”

I can’t see people paying much for content that is not unique to the site.

Wyatt on Micropatronage
February 25, 2005 at 2:04 am

Talking about donating, what about donating bandwidth and space. Brad if you see this comment I would like to donate some of my storage and bandwidth to hosting your songs.

Comments are closed on this post.