SXSW 2024 Keynote: Death of the Follower & the Future of Creativity on the Web with Jack Conte – Photo by Hutton Supancic

Death of the Follower & the Future of Creativity on the Web with Patreon CEO Jack Conte

The Rise of Algorithm Focused Platforms

With the rapid evolution of the internet, it can be increasingly difficult for creators to find their audience and build community. What has become the "traditional" form of engagement—liking and following your favorite authors, musicians, artists, etc.—doesn't always result in a sustainable lifestyle for creators. 

Co-founder and CEO of Patreon, Jack Conte, joined the 2024 SXSW Conference as a keynote speaker this March to discuss the current state of algorithmic social platforms, the progression of the internet, his personal transition from musician to tech company founder, and more.

Since 2013, Patreon has been home to over 250,000 creators who are directly supported by more than 8 million members. Using his personal experience with music, Conte set out to bridge the gap between creators and audiences who were willing to pay them for their work. 

Conte credits YouTube for playing a pivotal role in Web 2.0, a huge milestone. It allowed he and his wife's band, Pomplamoose, to foster a community of fans and provide them with meaningful experiences.

The subscribe button was foundational. It changed YouTube from being a tool to reach people, to being a way to reach them and then build a following around my work. The subscribe button allowed the people who liked my stuff to sign up to see more of it in the future. As a creator it gave me a channel of distribution to ensure that my future work was sent to those people." – Jack Conte

Within the last four years, Conte has found it increasingly difficult to get his fans to see his work. He explains that we're currently experiencing another shift in the history of the web, one he calls the "death of the follower". Conte believes that the work that is being done at Patreon "will create a better way for art and community to exist on the internet."

"I know that it is possible to build an internet where fandoms thrive and where professional creativity is possible for anyone. I believe this in my bones. It is not a choice, it's not optimism, it's just deep down what I actually know to be available to humanity if that is the path that we choose." - Jack Conte

You can watch the full Keynote, Death of the Follower & the Future of Creativity on the Web, from SXSW 2024 below.

Death of the Follower & the Future of Creativity on the Web with Jack Conte | SXSW 2024

Patreon CEO Jack Conte explains how the current internet algorithms are killing the traditional "follower" for creators, threatening their creative freedom and livelihoods.


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Photo by Hutton Supancic

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