Mike Doughty 1 Reward Tier

Not sure who else has read the latest Patreon e-newsletter from the Patreon blog. One article in it caught my attention.

It is about Mike Doughty who is a musician using 1 reward tier.

His reward tier transforms his Patreon campaign from a crowdfunding campaign to a membership site.

It gives his backers:

1 brand new recorded song every week
1 live recording every week from any point in his career

The cost to his patrons?

$5 USD per month.

My question is one that perhaps the Patreon officials could answer. Are the songs Mike gives to his backers exclusive to Patreon? Are they available elsewhere?

It feels that many Patreon creators, myself included, fall into 1 of 2 camps when it comes to Patreon. 1) We treat it as crowdfunding offering physical and digital rewards to our backers 2) We treat it as a membership site with exclusive content.

I sort of bridge both camps by giving my backers pre-release access to new episodes of my podcast along with exclusive behind the scenes content. On top of that I add various physical and/or digital rewards depending on their reward level.

Just curious about Mr. Doughty’s setup and if the songs he puts on Patreon are exclusive? Is only 1 of them exclusive or are both or are none? etc.

There is also a 3rd camp that treats Patreon as a tip jar with all of their content public. I recently went to one tier and threw all of my rewards into that tier and told everyone to just pay what they want. Patrons occasionally get a 3-5 day early access post, but everything becomes free to the public in a few days. I thought some people might lower their pledge or that I might even lose a couple of patrons as a result of possibly devaluing their reward, but my patrons have been pretty clear in the past that they’re supporting me so I can make art, not for rewards. I haven’t had any pledges lost or lowered. :slight_smile:

I mention this because I just read that same article and thought it was interesting to see another single reward tier creator. I would be interested to see if there are any others out there and how they’re doing. It seems Mr. Doughty has all of his music paywalled, but I don’t know if he releases it elsewhere. One would think he would have to release some or no one would be exposed to his music to know or care about supporting him on Patreon.


I really like the idea of a single tier where patrons pay what they want. Currently, I have one backer who keeps his pledge at the same price and bounces between my tiers depending on what physical reward he wants. If the physical reward costs more, he then increases his price. If it costs less, he does NOT reduce his pledge.

It has been difficult for me to wrap my head around other people being willing to pledge money to keep my podcast on the air.

Where a single pledge trips me up is for the less tech savvy backer who wishes to be a patron, but doesn’t really get the idea that a $1 reward level does NOT mean they have to give $1. In the past I had a backer who wanted to pledge $10 before I had a $10 level. He ended up leaving Patreon because of poor customer services issues from Patreon. But, he told me the confusion around my not having a $10 level at that time was hard for him.

On the other end of the spectrum I have a patron now who wanted to do a custom level for a year. He set the pledge and he and I crafted a unique set of rewards for him. More and more I’m trying to pitch that type of tier to patrons.


Mine is worded as follows:

Tip Jar
$1 or more per month
You choose the amount you want to pledge monthly. You determine the worth and will receive the following:

Then rewards are listed, which is a crapton of stuff and hopefully some people will think it’s worth more than $1, but I’m perfectly okay if they just pledge $1. I may occasionally in the future make a single month commission level higher amount reward tier with the intent to get more people in, but for now everything that was once in higher reward tiers are now all in the pay what you want. It is unfortunately a little confusing because the button to pledge says “$1 access”. I wish we were able to word those buttons ourselves, because I do think the phrasing devalues it. I also wish it were more apparent that you can change the amount once you click that button.

I’m struggling with the same thing. This morning I polled my patrons about switching to a single tier, with a crazy longwinded cost/benefit analysis. So far I’ve had 11 votes, 9 of which were to keep my current $1/3/5/10/15 tiers. I’ll let you know if something changes, but it looks like simplifying is off the table for me!

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Thank you for posting this example.

The whole time I’ve been using Patreon (1 or 0 patrons depending on the specific time) I’ve gone back and forth with the reward tiers trying to decide which is best for my work-and-release style.

And here you are doing the exact thing I have always wanted to do with my page but didn’t (mostly because my Kickstarter experiences told me I should do otherwise :rofl: )

So, yeah, thanks for you and all the other 1-tier/tip jar successes sharing your ideas and experiences.

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The thing to keep in mind is that I didn’t start out with a $1 tier, though I sometimes wish I had. My original launch of Patreon had a $1, $3, $5, $10, $20, $25, and $50 tier. I wish I had started with a $1/choose your amount pledge because I initially launched to friends and family and I think some of them saw those higher tiers and probably wondered who I thought I was to ask people to give so much. And I think on the other end they felt guilty to just pledge $1 and didn’t pledge at all. I can only guess because I’m sure several of them at least gave it a glance before dismissing the notion of Patreon. Luckily, I have some very generous and supportive friends who jumped on the $20 and $25 tiers, but I still wish I had started with just a single pledge to simplify matters and then played around with adding higher later.

Also, I haven’t gained any new patrons since changing to single tier (this month) so it remains to be seen if anyone will input more than $1. For me it just feels right. It’s for the same reason I switched to community goals as opposed to monetary goals: I want it to be more about the community of people supporting me instead of the amount of money I’m making and how much I’m getting from each individual. That’s also why I make my posts public and encourage followers to participate. I think it’s the best set-up for me and what I want to accomplish.

Best of luck to you! :smiley:

Thank you!

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I find it so weird that this is the minority of creators on Patreon these days. Back when I joined Patreon in 2013, it was actually a rule that your actual content was to be released free and Patreon wasn’t to be used as a paywall.

A friend of mine who published a magazine through Patreon actually had to figure out how to make that work with his process, and in the end made the portions of the magazine that were purely his content free for all, while the finished PDF magazine went out to patrons only.

Within three months of that transition, Patreon quietly stopped pushing that concept as a great many of the new creators on the site were using it as a paywall. In one interview Jack mentioned when asked about this transition that he was happy to see how Patreon would continue to change to suit the needs of the Patreon Creators.

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