Even before I launched Patronism, I had started really studying this model. Some of you have been patrons since that first night, January 29th, 2009, when I offered this as an alternative to tee shirts and CDs at my solo show at ZACH Theatre.
So much has changed. What I originally thought was a simple subscription to a stream of content revealed itself to be an entirely separate kind of economy - a relational one.
Transactions only go so far - ticket sales, CDs, posters, and such. At the end of a really good show, the natural inclination is to approach the artist and say something like, "Wow! That was incredible!" not, "Wow! That was a sticker for $2 or 3 for $5!" Furthermore, not one person has ever bought a shirt from me because they walked in shirtless. Believe me, I'd remember that.
Humans are fundamentally collaborative and relational. We couldn't survive if we weren't. If you had a hole in your roof and asked for help, I'd help if I could. Six months later, if I had a hole in my fence and asked for help, you'd help if you could. You wouldn't wait for my roof to have a hole to return the favor. That equivalency falls flat if we're maintaining our relationship.
So the transactional approach to music has fallen far short of sustaining musicians' abilities to keep making it. It doesn't address the relational reality of how we interact as humans, and what music does - it moves us, and brings us together.
But patronage does. It makes a world of difference by empowering individuals to make exactly the difference in the world they want to see - bothas patrons and as artists. It's cooperative.
So thank you for helping me do this work. I really appreciate it, and while it's a tough row to hoe, it would be even tougher if I were trying to do it alone.