Patreon is now valued at $4 billion dollars, a tripling of its past valuation, after raising $155 million in a funding round led by Tiger Global.
The platform allows fans to sign up for content from creators directly. While the eight-year-old service had already built an extensive network of content creators, many think the COVID-19 pandemic drove even more to the site which accounts for some of its new valuation. In March 2020, Patreon noted in a blog post that more than 30,000 creators signed up in the first weeks of the Pandemic.
During a year where theaters, comedy clubs and other live experience venues shut down, creators who worked in live entertainment needed to adapt, which has been true of comedians. Patreon had long been a place for comedy podcasters, but overnight, it became a place for displaced live performers as well. Many performers, like comedians, who have long seen their art form as a live experience, flocked to a more online versions of their craft which included Patreon.
In the same blog post, Patreon cited that they were seeing more patrons signing up at the time. They also saw accounts getting to early creator milestones more quickly. The increased patron traffic was seen as a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic as those stuck at home were hungry for content and wanted to support displaced creators.
As many creative jobs are on the precipice of reopening, the question becomes, will live creators choose to stay on Patreon? Last week marked the return of live stand-up comedy to New York City. Many comedy clubs had their first shows in over a year and while things are far from normal, steps to reopen live-indoor experiences are happening. Creators who were using Patreon because of closures may no longer need to. This may also affect patrons as they get more options for live entertainment.
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However, many have seen a boon in online comedy during this pandemic that may outlive it, which is a good sign that live comedy performers will stay on sites like Patreon. With access to larger global audiences, live streaming comedy seems to have created a legacy that in person performances won’t disrupt. Online comedy on social media and other pre-recorded sources is also on the rise. The eruption of online content in this market has changed an industry that was long thought of as an in-person experience driven art form.
At the beginning of the pandemic, while many users flocked to Patreon, they saw a slight loss in existing subscribers who were tightening their entertainment budgets due to the pandemic. Now a year later, there may be some live performers turned online creators who leave the platform as in person opportunities to work reopen. However, online creating most likely is too big now to disappear, which is a good thing for Patreon and its most recent valuation.