Artwork for podcast The Boss Rebellion™
The Opportunity of Removing Friction and Eliminating the Middle Man
Episode 623rd March 2023 • The Boss Rebellion™ • Free Agent Source
00:00:00 00:11:19

Share Episode


Steve Pruneau and Asher Black discuss Patreon founder Jack Conte's initiative to help creators make money and how eliminating friction and the middle man is key to aligning one's business model with one's purpose as well as filling an enormous cultural and economic need in the #bossrebellion


  • Eliminating the middle man / friction in a commercial ecosystem
  • Bringing one's whole self / creative intelligence / creative energy to work
  • Removing the separation between one's own interests and the business does
  • Being an artist and creator first - the Jack Conte example (Patreon)
  • Eliminating dependency on others
  • Aligning one's business model with one's purpose
  • The value of direct relationships
  • The competition to help creators make money as a second
  • Renaissance
  • Making what I want vs. what makes me happy
  • The predatory character of many existing models


Interview with Patreon founder Jack Conte:



Steve Pruneau:

Asher Black

Management Consulting Firm:

The Boss Rebellion






know the guy who founded Patreon? Jack Conti is a musician first, and he was even before he got into that, and, , I'm really into what he's doing because he brings his whole self to work.

He's, he's an artist first. He's, nope, I am not gonna separate this creative part of myself and only be rational in business. He does the whole thing and that's, that's all he does. The story behind Patreon is that he was pissed off about, You know, getting a million views on YouTube and can't earn a living off of that.

And it's really good stuff that he was producing, at least according to the fans. And, and I'm, I'm a fan too, so, and he's right, you know, so what is wrong? What kind of a world are we living in? Where


the middlemen, the people in the middle are controlling whether creators make anything or not. There should be a direct relationship between fans and creators, and he's building that, he's making that happen, and he's basically firing the middleman.

So yeah, I'm, I'm all about their story. I love hearing the latest news.


Yeah, I think he said, , he, he got over a million views and he made a total of $160. But it wasn't just the views versus dollars, it was the sheer number of hours he took into making, , some kind of model of the Millennium Falcon or whatever he did to get these, which is, it's quite unique.

, you know, and, and news stations do this. They pick up a YouTube video cuz free footage. They're not paying as many reporters anymore. They don't have as many people out on the street. You know, it's sort of all happening digitally or in. So they go out and get YouTube videos or something that happens on, on Twitter or Instagram, and they show this and it's sort of free footage for them to create a story out of, but he's getting nothing out of that.

And , the sheer number of hours put


into it. Underscores the fact that here's a guy, he's bringing his creative intelligence, his creative energy, his creative self to work. It's driving what he does. There's almost no separation between what his own interests are and, and what his business does. And yet he has to think about the cost benefit of, , feeding the beast of social media because, you know, in, in the end we think of social media.

What we think is happening is that it gives, it's a vehicle to give us a direct connection to our a. Except that what it really does is it gives Facebook a better connection to its audience for aver to to sell that for advertising. It gives Twitter, it gives YouTube a better connection to its audience, and what you're really doing is you're feeding their connection to the audience.

Yes, you get some, but it's 80 20 weighted toward their connection versus yours, and that's illustrated by the sheer. That one, they have the email addresses. You don't, two you, you just have, if they continue to like your next video, if you continue to produce for YouTube or Facebook, you might be able to


interact with that person in sort of the comments section.

, but on top of that, they're getting a whole lot more of a hun than $160 in terms of revenue, which it takes a lot more than that to run the platform, , off of their being able to sell ad. on your video, et cetera, or on the number of viewers that are trolling for your video, et cetera, you're getting $160, you know, two minutes worth of interaction, maybe a comment.

It's 80 20 weighted to feeding the middleman, , versus what Patreon does, which is eliminate the middleman. .


Yeah. I mean, you almost like, as a creator, you're almost a, a volunteer contributing to the platform. , I'm a volunteer worker. I work, , for Facebook and, and Twitter and YouTube. And I, I hope they have great earnings this quarter.

You know, there's, there's two things that they're hitting at the same time here that I really like and, and you know, one. enough of the middleman, they're, they want to create a direct connection so that


people can, can earn a living from fans who love what they do and , , and that, and those are the two things.

So, so we gotta get rid of the middleman and we gotta have a way for people who opt in to a particular creator say, yep, I like that and I want more of that. How can I make sure I get more of that by spending money that, , that helps the creator? So, , and they, they're, you know, it's starting to spin up.

, just recently they announced a relationship, , , Patreon did, , with Spotify, which they, so now potentially we get the quote unquote airplay, , where artists are discovered because this is part of the problem too, of, of somebody in the middle controlling it. They control how you even get discovered, who the algorithm rhythm that puts new artist names forward.

So yeah, they're, they're. , , if you're a middleman, , if you're in the middleman business, this is, , a problem. But it's great news for the rest of


us. Well, you know, Spotify is just as fraught in this


way in some ways. Yes, it's a social media platform for music creators. You've got Neil Young who yanked all his music, , off of Spotify and a lot of other people have as well, or, or simply forbid their music to be on Spotify.

, now if you want to listen to a Neil Young song of Spotify, you gotta dig up a Crosby Still's Nash Young Track, and, , and so you can't hear hard of gold the way he performs it. Right? And part of this is that, Spotify does not ensure that artists are compensated in a, in a fair way for their work. So the beauty of something like Patreon is that more of the dollar you're spending, whether you're spending that inadvertently through, , ad spending, you're spending that because you have a YouTube premium account or a Twitter blue account or whatever.

More of the ad dollar go or the dollar itself goes to the artist. So we're shifting the, we're not just cutting out the middle man, we're shifting the proportion into a more. , supply chain. But the other thing we're doing, and you kind of underscored it, is what this does by separating a discovery platform from a loyalty platform, if you make it all in one, which is what kind of Spotify


tries to do, meet new artists and follow them here.

Twitter, YouTube, same thing. Meet somebody they can follow your YouTube channel. We'll collect, you know, 900 per percent of what you you're supposed to get. We'll give you the leavings. , the, the problem is that it becomes unjust, but if you disconnect those things, if you allow Twitter, YouTube, which do get a benefit, , from being the discovery platform to meet creators to find their music.

The artist does benefit from that exposure, from having those things, which are essentially a glorified search engine that's all really social. And those platforms are Etsy. These other markets, they're a search engine that becomes the entry point. The, the platform doesn't get to control the whole relationship, but it, it gets to be the entry point.

And then another platform serves up, , the loyalty. Then that empowers, , the creator in a way that, that I think we don't currently have. And of course, I would liken this to, , the cable company, trying to be your all in one. We want to give you phone, we wanna give you internet, we wanna give you tv.

Heck, they would, they would sell us all kinds of things if they could, or


Amazon wanting to be our pharmacy or everything else. Of course, they want to lock it all up in an e. , that's theirs because they collect more that way. And of course, people that sell on those platforms like Amazon are people that make movies and put them out, , in these shared environments, complain that less than ever is going to the actual producer, the actual artist.

So separating, breaking some of that up, some of these cabals and separating discovery. , of value, discovery of talent, discovery of creative energy from, , loyalty to and following, and repeat relationships with, , creative energy. That's a, a key element to what they're doing.


Interestingly, though, , and, , Jack Conti talks about this, and Patreon talks about this, that breaking it up isn't enough.

My take on it is for so long, so many decades, We, and I mean, society or the middlemen, have intentionally created this dependency. Whether, whether you are a, a, a painter or a


musician, a painter depends on, say, a gallery or some sort of representation. A musician, , depends on the record label. or even in consultants, they depend on, , the consulting firm or, or a staffing agency because it's, you know, they talk about the how hard it is to be independent.

So even if the, the middleman model starts to break down and there's a direct route, well now artists have to figure out how to engage, how to develop an audience, what am I about, and all these fundamental questions of should I do what people like or should I. what I love and how can I earn a living from that?

And so , now that the walls have come down, it's sort of like East Germany. Oh, so now what kind of SI society do you really want? Or at a personal level, what kind of life do I really


want? Yeah. You know, so, , this is actually, as you say, created a problem. , so we've now


disconnected, , opportunity, , finding, finding somebody, connecting somebody from, , following somebody or from loyalty discovery versus following.

And this means more than ever we have the ability of a leader to connect his vision directly to an audience. I think a lot of CEO. , and powerful C-suite executives who have a vision for their business would love to get rid of some of the levels, layers of bureaucracy, the middlemen within their own organization.

Sure, they can do an annual keynote or they can do a, they can come downstairs and do a presentation now and then, you know, fly out to wherever the the workers are and talk to them. But to have an ongoing relationship where you can. People at the line level understand what we're really trying to do here and the vision of the company.

A lot of CEOs struggle with that. And the problem with, , removing those barriers, , is one, now there's a scramble. So, , you know, the, this article talks about the. This competition now among various platforms, , to help creators make money, is gonna create a second renaissance. And of


course, the model is really important.

How much control am I giving up versus how much exposure do I bundle or unbundle? , you know, connection versus, , opportunity discovery versus , , loyalty. , but it also makes the creator or the visionary leader think, do I do what I want or , , and what makes me happy? Or I do, do I do what? Gets a better response out of the audience.

And even leaders face that come downstairs and do I get cheers because I say it's all about you? , or do I say we're really trying to change something in the market? Remove friction here. Improve people's supply chain. or create a more just environment or whatever it is. Do I, do I tell them something that's not about them.

And so I think the solution is this for me as somebody who is a creator, somebody that, that does live a life of art and make art. , the, the question always comes up, where's the line between the market and the muse? And for me it's this, if I'm doing something I love, if I'm doing something, , that I'm passionate about, that something is inherently universal.

We think it's particular to me. But the real truth is when something happens,


, in a story that resonates with

me, when. Become passionate about something. I'm tapping into something that is shared with a huge portion of humanity. We're not really the isolated islands we think we are, and so we will be able to find an audience that connects with that, and therefore we're looking for a vehicle to facilitate that connection.

but, and enable that. But while it removes the friction, it truly lets me convey my vision, express that, and it also rewards me by letting me live off of the proceeds of connecting with people and, and making that vision transparent.