One of my favorite podcasts is How I Build This with Guy Raz. He takes us deep into the stories of companies, how they were founded, and their struggles along the way. This past week, I listened to the story of Patreon, a company founded on the idea that some of us are willing to pay producers for their art, allowing artists to make a living and keep producing. It is a bit like public radio generally, you can get it for free but it wouldn’t exist without financial support from listening members.
One of Patreon’s founders is a musical artist. He was making a great living off of ITunes music sales.
Then everything shifted in the music world. People could stream the music for free. He was doing the same work, and yet he went from making a good living to making virtually nothing, even though he was still creating and still building a fan base. More people were listening, but they weren’t paying him to do so.
When he asked his fans to pay a little bit to support him, they did so. Lots of them. He found a way to support himself again.
What I love in this isn’t the particular story, but rather the demonstration that we can make things work out. So often we live in fear. What happens if x, y, and z circumstances beyond my control all change and I no longer have a livelihood? Then we figure it out.
A friend recently used this analogy: a bird sitting on a tree doesn’t worry that the tree will break. If it breaks, she takes off and starts flying.
And so can we. We might flounder and fall a couple of times like a baby bird, but if we decide there is no other option, we can learn to fly.