Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Crazy Thought about Patronage

Over on the theRPGSite is a discussion about Internet patronage system. The basic gist a company or author will put a project and say that it will get developed and printed if so many people contribute to it. There are a bunch of variation on the scheme.

It's distractors call it the "Ransom" system. In it's most negative light it is saying "I won't produce X unless you give me Y dollar." And that appears to rub many the wrong way.

As for myself, I shrug and marvel at yet another way that the internet allows for things to be done. However I will say that a part-timer should think twice before taking this path because once you start taking money you are going to be committed to get it down. In the best case if things go wrong you will have egg on your face and your reputation takes a hit, in the worst well you looking at explaining yourself in front of a judge.

During the theRPGSite the original idea of patronage came up. A wealthy individual commissions an Artist to X for Y amount of money. That got me thinking up a crazy idea.

What if a bunch of fans, or folks who want to see something new out of an beloved author or designer pool their money in an attempt to give said author a commission to produce what they wanted. Some will say no but perhaps some yes. The difference between the other patronage system is that the payers are going to get the work they want instead of picking from a limited list. Popular authors may be able to get some nice pocket change by accepting commission.

Now I am not advocating this for me. I got enough on my plate for now between my cartography contracts and getting Bat in the Attic stuff out the door. But I range far and wide among different forums, blogs and other sites and I can see this happening in some cases to the profit (money and satisfaction) of both parties.


drnuncheon said...

Greg Stolze has been doing this for a few years and a dozen supplements now with Reign, although the key to his ransoms (that isn't mentioned in your post) is that once the funding is met, the item gets released free to the world as a PDF. (They have also been collected and printed in two softcover collections since demand was high enough.)

Anyway, he's probably the biggest proponent of this in gaming, and he calls it the ransom model as well, so it's not just the detractors,

Matt said...

That's what I'm doing now with Mystery Men! I wanted art for the project, but because it was going to be free (and because I've already spent as much money on art as I can without endangering my marriage), I decided to try the patronage route using Kickstarter. So far, its going well, and hopefully will make for a more attractive free product for the community to enjoy.

Hannah said...

I could never do patronage because when I make something, I WANT to share it. If the funding fell through I'd want to release it anyway, and once I did that no one would ever contribute.

Maybe a halfway model? If the goal is met, free for everyone. If it's not met, free for the people who contributed and for sale to everyone else. So if you contribute $5 you know you're getting the product without having to pay $5 later, but you're contributing up front with the hope of giving other people the chance to enjoy it. But would anyone do that?

But I would totally take commissions. The difference is, I'd be creating something I wouldn't have thought of on my own.