Earlier today, Kickstarter launched Drip, a kind of art subscription service intended to raise money for “creators” — visual and performing artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians, craftspeople, and designers of all kinds. As their tagline goes: “Kickstarter is for projects, Drip is for people.”
Individual artists and collectives, podcasters, and experimental groups create pages on the site, and visitors can subscribe to certain projects, or whatever else the artist decides to make available to them. Artists have the option to create tiers of membership for different kinds of access, and the goal is that these subscriptions will help fund the artist’s future projects, at the same time encouraging the artist to create more content for subscribers.
Kickstarter isn’t the first company to offer such a service. (Patreon has been doing roughly the same thing since 2013.) In fact, Drip was previously an independent entity, used primarily for supporting musicians from 2012 until last year, when the company decided to shut down and was almost immediately bought by Kickstarter. Kickstarter has now widened the scope and hopes to reinvigorate its adopted model.
For now, Drip is invite-only for creators, but scrolling through the dozens of pages already up, you’ll find that many of them have a handful of “founding members,” a special term used to describe the first few subscribers (subscriptions are open to everyone).
Kelani Nichole, owner and director of Transfer, a Brooklyn gallery that focuses on new media, told Hyperallergic that Kickstarter contacted her to invite a few of the artists she represents to join Drip. She suggested Faith Holland, who now has a page, but Nichole also seized the opportunity to promote another project she’s involved with, the Current Museum, which will, in her words, “reboot” in 2018 as a completely online museum. She hopes to use the museum’s Drip page as a membership platform for the virtual gallery, with different tiers of subscribers treated like membership levels at traditional museums — big donors get invited to salons, artist talks, and other events, while small donors participate in these events through their computer screens. Nichole equates the cheaper subscriptions with paying a museum entry fee.
“Drip is brilliant,” Nichole said, “providing a seamless pay gate, where creators are encouraged to distribute content but not as free labor.” She notes that a page on Drip wouldn’t replace an artist’s website, but it could replace their social media posts. Nichole finds that many of the new media artists she works with create small works for social media, things like GIFs, which they have traditionally distributed for free. Drip gives them a chance to get paid for them. As for artists working with more traditional media, like painting or sculpture, Nichole sees Drip as a unique opportunity for them to share their art-making processes. She looks forward to discovering the answer to: “What would it be like to subscribe to a studio practice?”
So far, and by a wide margin, English comedian Richard Herring’s podcast page has the most subscribers on Drip, which leads me to believe that you may already have to be somewhat well known to make any real money from this venture. Whether the payout will exceed the effort of creating new content for Drip subscribers will likely depend on the individual artist.