CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Patreons to Support Your Favorite AmericanaFest Finds
Crys Matthews (photo by Amos Perrine)
As I write this, I am preparing to leave for what promises to be the most unusual AmericanaFest ever. As this goes live, many of you will just be returning from what was hopefully an enjoyable one nonetheless. While I can’t predict the future, I feel pretty safe in betting you found artists you didn’t know who have now become favorites. It happens every year, and hopefully you’re excited to support that new favorite financially. One area of support you might not have considered is Patreon. Since I ran my first Patreon-themed column in 2017, it’s become a more popular platform for musicians. The last two years have been a perfect storm for Patreon. Artists who saw Patreon as too far from the usual album/tour/album cycle got a crash course in “far from the usual.” Personal/professional boundaries blurred as musicians streamed shows from their living rooms. And many decided that getting $5-$10 per month for the shows they’d been streaming for tips was the way to go. It’s still not as popular as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but it didn’t take me a lot of time to locate several AmericanaFest artists who are active on Patreon. Here are three of my favorites.
Wild Ponies (click here for Patreon Page)
If the “new” band for you this year was Wild Ponies, lucky you. Doug and Telisha Williams are not only the curators of AmericanaFest’s rowdiest annual party, The Wild Ponies Happy Hour, they’re also true roots music polymaths. You can find a lot of writers, producers, and performers in Americana. You can even find a few podcasters. But you aren’t likely to find any other food truck owners. Wild Ponies’ Patreon page is as diverse as they are. Their Patron-only Zoom parties aren’t fan hangs so much as a living room party for creatives where everyone talks about their work and shares ideas. Their Behind the Song videos give a glimpse into their own process. And their podcasts are a treasure map to Nashville’s best artists. They know everyone, and if you spend enough time with them, you will too. In August, Wild Ponies threw their Patreon wide open, with all payment tiers, starting at $1 per month, getting all benefits.
Crys Matthews (click here for Patreon Page)
Wild Ponies is likely only going to be a new find for people new to AmericanaFest, but Crys Matthews reminds me in some ways of The War and Treaty, an act who came into the festival with little fanfare but who became the AmericanaFest equivalent of the “telephone game,” with those who saw that first show talking so much about it that by the next one everyone knew the name. Matthews’ calls to social justice are what I think The Staple Singers would have sounded like had they formed during the Black Lives Matter movement. Her “Sing Don’t Shout” TED Talk is a must hear for anyone wanting to engage in meaningful change dialogue rather than screaming into a social media echo chamber. Matthews’ Patreon tiers are $3, $10, and $30, with all granting behind-the-scenes content and early access to new music. Higher tiers include downloads of the songs, livestream concerts, and access to her monthly Changemakers Roundtable workshops.
Jill Andrews (click here for Patreon Page)
Jill Andrews is a seasoned veteran in the Americana world. After releasing her first album in 2004 with the vastly underrated The Everybodyfields, Andrews released her solo debut in 2009. Somehow, even with all of that experience, Andrews remains an artist that I recommend practically every AmericanaFest to people who have no idea what they’ve missed out on. For those who did find Andrews for the first time at AmericanaFest, or who, like me, have been a fan for years, her Patreon page has six funding tiers that range from $5 to $100 per month. On the low end, patrons get a digital archive of songs, early access to new releases, and a patron-only Facebook group. From there, perks in other tiers include an archive of demos, monthly themed live shows, autographed merch, and VIP tickets to her shows.