I recently got an email from The Piano Guys (a channel on Youtube that I subscribe to) asking me to support their Patreon. I have made a conscious decision not to, and here’s why.
The Piano Guys (TPG) are a band that started off on YouTube by creating piano and cello covers of music. What set their videos apart is that they would often shoot their performance in some very remote locations and made you think “how’d they get the piano there?!”. They produce great quality music that’s worth listening to.
Back when they first started off, they asked their fans to become founders, by donating some money to them (in return, they would provide some exclusive access to behind the scenes plans, etc.) to help them build their brand. I gladly did so. They clearly deserved it for the high quality content they put out.
By all metrics, one would think that I would have jumped on the opportunity to support them on Patreon too, as I have done with other content creators in the past. However, this was very different, and there is one thing to blame: fame.
Back when TPG was relatively obscure, they used to release content on YouTube about once a month. As their popularity grew, the frequency dropped to around once every two months after the Founder campaign. I still found that acceptable. After all, they were busy with doing concerts and all sorts of behind-the-scenes work to get their brand off the ground. However, after they became famous and their popularity skyrocketted, content was being released once every 5 months in very random schedules. The YouTube channel (which is what the Founders campaign promised) was more of a side job. An after-thought. For me, it looked like all the people that had supported TPG during their time of need just got a slap on the face. And it was only after TPG wanted more money and funding, did they decide to produce a video and put it up on YouTube.
Fame does this to people. People who were approachable and very down-to-Earth become hard to reach, stuck up and overall more pompous. Very few are able to maintain that careful balance of humility and fame. One might argue that fame leads to a wider fan base, making it very difficult to interact which fans on a personal level, but I strongly disagree. Case in point, during my trip to the US, I was able to meet my two favourite starcraft casters. They are really famous in that industry (enough so that Blizzard has chosen to immortalize their voices in Starcraft II as part of an announcer pack), yet, I never felt like an inconvenience to them.
Fame has to the ability to make people incredibly hard to contact. I remember trying to contact Kurt Hugo Schneider to suggest he start a Patreon, as I wanted to support him. But the sheer difficulty in trying to get in touch was not worth my time. His website’s contact feature was not working and he never responded on Twitter. My time is both, limited and valuable, and I’m not wasting it to try and make other people some money.
It is surprisingly difficult to reach these once humble people. That is, until money beckons. These people will crawl out of the woodwork when they want to ask for money (as TPG did) or have something new to sell or promote. I am a frequent user of Reddit and it’s become a sort of game for me. I’ll sometimes see AMA’s (Ask Me Anything) from famous people and my first thought is always “What do you want? How much money does it cost?”. I’m almost never wrong. These people only put themselves out there because they want to promote something of theirs to make more money.
One can argue that at the end of the day, it is money that matters. Money is what makes the world go round. You need money to survive, you need money to live. Money talks. As long as you’re raking in the dollars, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
And this is where I have to say I agree, but only to a certain extent. I believe our morals are important. They should have some weight in the decisions we make and what kind of people we choose to be. Yes, money is important, but I think how we earn that, and the kind of people we are also matters. I would never sacrifice my morals to make a quick buck. I intend on staying true to myself – a trait which apparently TPG and other famous people seem to lack. If I were to ever become famous, I’d do my best to ensure that the people that supported me, especially those at the very start, were at least given the respect and gratitude they have earned.
But to each, their own. I know not a lot of people operate on this philosophy. People have their own ways of approaching the decisions they have to make. But as far as I’m concerned, I believe it is the wrong one on behalf of TPG. I consider it disrespectful and highly misleading. And due to this, I have lost all trust in them, which is why I will never support them on Patreon or on any other platform in the future. Ever.
So what do you think? Can famous people interact with fans on a personal level? Or is it just some pipe dream? Let me know in the comments!