Kickstarter wants to do more than just kickstart projects.
The crowd-funding company launched a revamped subscription service called Drip on Wednesday through which musicians, artists, and other creators can solicit recurring donations rather than one-time contributions.
If that model sounds familiar, it’s probably because Drip is essentially Kickstarter’s bid to create its own version of Patreon, the fast-growing startup that originally set itself apart from established crowdfunding companies with its long-term subscription format.
But the original Drip has actually been a low-profile pioneer in the subscription crowdfunding space for half a decade. The service was founded by an indie record label called Ghostly International in 2012 as an alternative means of money-making for musicians and other small labels. Kickstarter bought it in 2014 when it was on the verge of shutting down.
Now Kickstarter has refashioned Drip to serve web creators of all stripes with a new suite of tools meant to help with the business side of running a creative enterprise.
“It’s a total rebuild,” said Kickstarter co-founder and chairman Perry Chen. “Kickstarter’s very project-based funding and this is really about people-based funding.”
Kickstarter gives a nod to existing services that fill this role like Patreon, Flattr, and Steady in its press material for the launch.
“It’s been great to see organizations build tools like these,” Chen writes in the announcement. “The world is far from having too many tools for creators.”
But the company still claims that there are elements of Drip that set it apart from any of its rivals in the space.
One is a feature that draws on Kickstarter’s existing strengths to bolster its new service. The company gives creators a “founding membership” period, during which they can offer subscribers promotions and special privileges to gain an initial fan base in the same way they might build a normal Kickstarter campaign.
“Going forward, they can kind of continue that relationship with their founding members if they want,” Chen said. “You can decide if you want special things that are just for them.”
Kickstarter also wants to guarantee as much independence as possible for creators who sign onto the platform. Chen said the company is going out of its way to ensure that all work and business information is transferrable should creators decide to take their talents elsewhere.
“We don’t want anybody to continue to use our tools because they don’t know how to stop or they don’t know how to move out,” Chen said. “We’re a platform, we’re a tool, but those are your relationships.”
Like Patreon founder and CEO Jack Conte, Chen arrived on the idea for Kickstarter from his own experience as an artist. He claims that mindset still informs the company’s decisions today.
“We’re trying to focus on a broader group of creators who maybe haven’t yet learned about these tools or haven’t yet had these ongoing funding tools resonate with them for whatever reasons,” Chen said. “[Drip] can be kind of like a bridge for those creators to see this as something that’s an effective tool for them.”
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