Does subscription crowdfunding offer new employment opportunities in the creative industries?

Research on crowdwork has tended to focus on low-skilled workers and micro-tasking. However, a new type of crowdwork is emerging that allows creators to sustain a recurring income stream through monthly payments from the crowd. In this type of subscription crowdfunding, digital platforms, such as Patreon, match creators to patrons who pay a monthly subscription in exchange for access to creators’ exclusive content.

This Round 3 Innovation Fund project aims to investigate the employment opportunities that subscription crowdfunding provides and how funds are generated and distributed. It will also explore the perceptions of key players—creators, platform representatives and patrons—on work quality, relations and autonomy on the platform.

The findings will provide the basis for evidence-based recommendations to platforms, creative industries, and policy makers.


  • Semi-structured interviews with creators, patrons and platform representatives.
  • Digital ethnography to examine campaign sites as dynamic and interactive spaces in which creators, patrons and platform participate in the development of a new type of crowdwork for creative industries.
  • Online survey of 300 patrons.

Research questions

  1. How can subscription crowdfunding platforms create formal income streams for artists and creators in the digital economy?
  2. What are the experiences of artists and the crowd of this type of crowdwork?
  3. Why does the crowd decide to “employ” creators on digital platforms, what benefits does it gain and what factors determine its monthly payment to creators?
  4. What are the ethical implications of subscription crowdfunding as a new type of crowdwork for artists?


Principle Investigator: Krystallia Moysidou, University of Sussex

Digit Member: Dimitra Petrakaki