Death of the Follower & the Future of Creativity on the Web

Creativity and Community in the AI Age: : My Insights from Patreon Jack Conte‘s SXSW 2024 Keynote

The room was packed as artists, creators, industry visionaries, and I gathered, hungry for insights into the future of online creativity. As the founder of Future Proof Creatives, a community dedicated to empowering artists and creative professionals in the ever-evolving digital realm, I was pumped to meet Jack for the first time and hear his take on the changes in our industry.

The Evolution of the Internet and Creativity

Conte’s creator journey began in the internet’s nascent days when the shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 was underway. “It was just starting to move from what people called, web one to web 2.0,” he recounted, transporting us to that transformative era.

Platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter democratized creativity, allowing anybody to share their work globally. “The whole idea of web 2 is that for the first time as a creator, you could easily participate on the internet,” Conte explained. I vividly remembered that euphoric feeling of newfound creative empowerment.

The Birth of Patreon and the Concept of True Fans

However, as Conte’s music career progressed, he faced a harsh reality – the struggle to sustain a creative career. This sparked Patreon’s birth, a platform fostering direct creator-fan connections.

“This was the concept rattling around in my head when I started Patreon, 11 years ago,” Conte shared, referencing Kevin Kelly‘s “1,000 True Fans” theory. This posited that 1,000 ardent supporters could financially sustain a creator. “If you can find a thousand people willing to buy $100 of your stuff per year, that’s $100,000 annually,” Conte broke it down, illuminating this model’s power.

Challenges and Shifts in the Creator Economy

Yet as the internet evolved, new threats emerged. The rise of algorithmic platforms like Facebook’s newsfeed and TikTok‘s “For You” page fundamentally disrupted creator-audience relationships. “The whole internet was again, starting to reshape,” Conte observed solemnly.

While offering unprecedented reach, these algorithms undermined the creator-led community ethos that once thrived. “The decade of ranking, the decade where the original promise of the creator-led community, was broken,” Conte lamented. As a creator myself, I resonated with the disillusionment of having our voices drowned out by opaque algorithms.

The Future of Creativity and Community on the Internet

Facing these challenges, Patreon evolved into a comprehensive creator ecosystem nurturing those direct fan connections core to its founding ethos. “We’re now thinking of Patreon not just as a membership platform, but as this whole ecosystem,” Conte revealed, hinting at an ambitious vision.

The keynote’s resounding message? Prioritize deeper fan connections over superficial broad reach. “The next decade of creative and media technology will focus on building direct fan relationships,” Conte declared. A paradigm shift was imminent.

Call to Action for Creators

For creators navigating this changing landscape, Conte issued a powerful call to arms:

  1. Invest in true fans and deep connections. Forgo ephemeral virality for a devoted community that truly connects with your art.
  2. Make beautiful, meaningful things. Stay authentic to your vision, creating works of depth transcending fleeting trends.
  3. Know and trust your creative purpose. Remain steadfast in your goals and values, never compromising for algorithmic favor.

Conte’s closing words still resonate: “Do not forget what matters to you as an artist. Do not forget what fills you with pride to make.” A potent reminder to stay true to our creative souls.

Bringing the Vision to Life – Integrating Insights into Future Proof Creatives

The reverberations of Jack Conte’s SXSW 2024 keynote and the philosophies espoused in works like Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans” and the “Cluetrain Manifesto” have struck a profound chord, aligning with the core ethos that guides Future Proof Creatives. These seminal pieces emphasize the transformative power of genuine connections and underscore the vast potential of the internet to facilitate authentic creative expression.

As I position Future Proof Creatives at the forefront of this movement, prioritizing depth, authenticity, and sustainability is paramount. Here are the key strategies we will employ to fully integrate these principles:

Embracing the Philosophy of True Fans

  • Community Building: Nurturing an engaged community where each member feels valued and connected is crucial. We will leverage platforms and tools tailored to facilitate meaningful interactions, such as Patreon, Discord, or custom-built forums.
  • Exclusive Content: To deepen the bond with our true fans, we will offer exclusive content, early access, and unique merchandise that strengthens their connection to the Future Proof Creatives brand.
  • Feedback Loops: Implementing robust mechanisms for consistent feedback, be it through surveys, Q&As, or community forums, will allow us to continuously adapt and evolve to better serve our core audience.

Aligning with the Cluetrain Manifesto’s Principles

  • Authentic Conversations: Engaging in genuine, human dialogue with our community is essential. We will move beyond corporate-speak to express the authentic values and passions that fuel our work.
  • Transparency: Sharing the successes, challenges, and behind-the-scenes journeys will build trust and strengthen our community ties.
  • Decentralized Communication: By empowering community members to have autonomous conversations and share their stories organically, we amplify our reach and impact.

Fostering Innovation and Adaptability

  • Continuous Learning: Staying informed about emerging trends, tools, and platforms will enable us to experiment with new formats and technologies that facilitate deeper fan connections.
  • Collaborations: Partnering with creators and brands aligned with our values will introduce our work to new audiences while injecting fresh perspectives into our community.
  • Sustainability: In our pursuit of growth, we will remain mindful of long-term sustainability, developing business models that support our community and ourselves durably.

By weaving these strategies into the fabric of Future Proof Creatives, we will cultivate an engaged community built on authenticity, trust, and resilience. This approach honors the legacies that inspired us while boldly forging new paths for creative empowerment in the evolving digital realm.