Funding Creative Ventures (Sword & Laser)

I’m torn on how we do funding these days for all the media I love to consume. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. The Sword & Laser show and podcast has been a true life saver. They’re always curating a list of awesome books. If you follow me on GoodReads you’ll see that I pretty much just pick anything they’ve mentioned and start reading that. They’ve never steered me wrong. The interviews with authors I’m interested in are also GREAT.

I think it’s worth some amount of money to be a part of this curation service. Whenever I want to read a book all the work of picking out a good one is already done for me. Just go to the S&L site and I have pretty good odds of finding a winner. How much is that worth? We’ll get to that.

NPR asks for donations infrequently and sticks non invasive ads into This American Life and Serial. Free for me and not that annoying. Google via YouTube funded a whole host of great content creation channels. Free for me, but those non skip-able YouTube ads are getting on my nerves. Penny Arcade and other sites have turned to KickStarter. I’ve donated to a few of these and even received some cool products.

Artist Perspective

I’m an artist making something and I’d like to eat and pay my rent. I’d also like as many people as possible to see what I make. Let’s give it away for free on the Internet and just figure some shit out later. If I don’t make some money I’m going to have to get a real job 🙁 Let’s ask people to just pay what they like.

Consumer Perspective

Cable is expensive as hell! I’d like to listen and watch all this great free stuff online. Oh, I can also pay a la carte for just the things I really enjoy? So cool!

The Hitch(es)

If an artist is giving stuff away for free are you really incentivized to send them money out of the kindness of your heart? Sometimes I certainly am, but I think that’s the exception and not the rule.

I fear that one day I’ll wake up and realize I’m spending more money (or as much) on my a la carte services than I was on a bundled service. Maybe I won’t even realize it because it’s death by a thousand cuts. A little money here and there until I can’t pay my mortgage.

Even worse, what if there is some great content being created but not enough people decide to pitch in and fund it. That’s a real bummer there because the artist might not have funding to keep creating. My podcast or RSS feed could go dead. Definitely worse than missing a mortgage payment!

What Is This Post About Anyway?

I’m going to fund Sword & Laser on Patreon. I love the content and I’m willing to pay a small amount for it. Each time they make an episode they’re going to get $1 from me (up to a monthly max that I didn’t bother setting). This seems like a fair trade. I might bump the amount up at some point. Right now they make about 1 show a week. That’s a grand total of $4 a month, I can swing it. They’ve directed me to so many good books and filled up my commute time with author interviews and sci-fi discussions. I’d like them to keep doing it.

If you follow my GoodReads or like sci-fi I think you should donate too. If they stop making the show I’ll be really sad! They’ve pitched a lot of different ways to raise money over the years and I hope this one sticks.

So far I think Patreon seems like the best option for me and the content creator, but I’m not too optimistic about everyone being so generous.