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This blog was originally published on Hypebot.

This is a question musicians may be wondering about when considering launching a Patreon campaign as an additional income source.

What is the minimum number of fans or social media followers I need to have a chance of earning success on Patreon?

Since there are no discovery features on Patreon, it’s entirely up to you to funnel your fans to become paying patrons for your membership business.

As someone who has been working with artists and managing their Patreon accounts for 6 years now, this was a question I wondered about myself but never found an answer.

So in 2020, I did some research to come up with my own theory. I revisited these numbers in late 2023 while I was updating my Patreon For Musicians eBook to see if anything has changed since.

Of course, there are a lot of variables we can’t account for as every musician is different, but this should provide a rough estimate. Before we dig into the data, we must define what success looks like on Patreon.
 

What does success look like on Patreon?

 
Every musician is going to have an idea of what “success” on a platform is on Patreon. Some may be content with generating an additional $1,000 a month while others may be aiming higher. For our purposes, we need to define success in a quantifiable way with the data we have available.

Naturally, we would define success on the platform by how much money is generated monthly. Unfortunately, a lot of creators make that information private. Instead, we can look at the number of paid members, which is less likely to be kept hidden.

As of this writing, there are around 15,500 creators in the music category with at least 1 paying member according to Graphtreon.

What I did was look at the top 1% of musicians on Patreon, which consists of about 155 creators, and examine their numbers.

Quick Note: The music category on Patreon includes all types of content creators, not just musicians. This includes people who do music reactions, reviews, podcasts, Discord bots, run music venues and potentially other non-related music content that were miscategorized. For our purposes, we want data specifically for performing musicians, producers, singer-songwriters and even music teachers. The following numbers were filtered to exclude all the creators in the music category who did not meet the criteria.

As of October 2023, the top 1% of musicians and music educators in the music category have on average:

  • 1,308 total members
  • 777 paid members
  • 530 free members

To reach this 1% upper echelon is what I would consider to be “very successful” on Patreon, but it is unlikely for your typical independent artist to get 777 paying members. At the very least, we can still draw some conclusions from this group.

On the other hand, only 6% of creators in the music category had over 100 members. So I would even go as far as to say becoming one of the top 750 out of 15,500 is still relatively successful.
 

How large of a fan base do you need to grow on Patreon?

 
With the baseline of 100 paid members as a marker for success, what is the minimum number of fans one should have before considering Patreon?

Because there’s no easy way to quantify how many fans an artist has, the best metric we can look towards as an outsider is the number of social media followers.

We all know that social media followers aren’t the most accurate measure of fandom for an artist because not all followers or subscribers are actual fans, let alone fans willing to pay for anything from the artist. An email list could have been a better measure, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t be realistic to get access to that information.

When I dug into the social media numbers of the top 1% (128 creators at that time) of musicians on Patreon in 2020, I found that you would need at least 11,000 social media followers on one major platform like YouTube or Instagram.

I did this again with a new data set from late 2023 and found that the average was 17,211. It increased by about 5,000 in about 3 years, so the bar is rising. But it was much easier to get fans to support their favorite artists during the height of COVID-19 than it is now, which explains this increase.

How did I come up with this number? Starting with the data from Graphtreon, I went through the top 1% of music creators on Patreon and found their highest follower/subscriber count for a single platform. Then, I took 20 music creators with the lowest number of followers/subscribers found in the top 1% and got the average.

The only platforms I looked into were YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I realized after the fact that TikTok and Twitch should have been included, so that will be for a future update.

For comparison, creators in the top 1% had an average of 791,606 followers/subscribers on their most popular platform. In 2023, this number went down to 593,288. These are big numbers, but you don’t need that many social media followers/subscribers to be successful on Patreon as an independent artist.

So if the goal is to reach a baseline of 100 paying members on Patreon, you’re more likely to find success with a social media following of over 11,000 fans on a single platform. To be safe, I would say it is closer to 17,000 to 20,000.

These are not definitive numbers as there were musicians with 3,000 Facebook followers as their highest social media following and had over 300 patrons. There are a lot of factors to account for, but this should give you a general idea.
 

Interesting Discovery

 
One interesting discovery I found was that, on average, the number of paying patrons a top music creator had was 1% of the total number of their largest social media accounts. So if a musician in the top 1% has 50,000 Facebook fans/followers as their largest social media following, they would likely have 500 patrons (1% of 50,000). This also held true when I calculated it with the 2023 data set as well.

Another way to look at it is that the most successful musicians on Patreon were only able to convert 1% of their social media following.

It may not seem much, but getting 1% of 10,000 fans to join you on Patreon is considered relatively successful considering 94% of music creators on the platform have less than 100 patrons.

Using this information should give you an estimate of how many social media followers you should have to reach the specific income you’re looking to earn through Patreon.

So if you’re looking to generate $1,000 a month from Patreon with a $5 tier, you would need a following of roughly 20,000 to 40,000 to get 200 members.
 

Conclusion

 
The number one mistake I consistently see is artists/creators launching a Patreon without a fan base or an established following on at least one platform.

Because even if you have a large following, I find that it is still challenging to get fans to convert into monthly paying members on a platform outside the online ecosystem of what most use daily, like Instagram.

The artists I’ve helped launch Patreon with all have different fan base sizes ranging from 10,000 to close to 1,000,000. The one that had the most success had 95,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram combined with 30,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Although the focus has been on size, it’s not the only thing that matters. It’s also about how much your fan base resonates with you as a brand and how dedicated you are to growing your Patreon. It’s a lot harder than it seems.

If you feel like Patreon is something you’ve been wanting to start, I share everything I’ve learned in the past 6 years in my Patreon For Musicians eBook to help artists set up, launch and grow their Patreon. I include all the best practices, tactics for growth and mistakes to avoid.

patreonformusicians.com

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