Friends of the Retreat and fellow authors Brian Niemeier and David Stewart got together to talk about the return of patronage in the arts as a way around the Death Cult.
Much of the talk, when not addressing realities of the indie game, talked about the matter of patronage. It was the way cultural works got funded in the days before Big Media, and it will be the way it happens again, especially for dissidents. Well-heeled individuals step up and fund--not invest, not purchase, not commission--the works of artists, writers, etc. whose aesthetics fit their own. Those artists then do so and perform or display their works for the patron first, and eventually for the wider public; how fast it goes from the former to the latter depends on medium.
These days the line between a publisher and a patron can seem thin, which is why neo-patronage centers around crowdfunding at this time; there is a clear distinction between patron and client here that otherwise gets muddied. At this time I rely on this to make Star Knight happen, and I will for some time. It's a far more preferable way than relying on blind luck from an OldPub player to pluck you out of the mire of bloggers posting their original fiction.
The other reason for this inevitable rise is that Amazon's using its market position to take more from authors, but doing so quietly via making success into a pay-to-play model instead of changing the royalty rates for Kindle and Print On Demand publishing. Most smaller authors (like me) lack the time, money, or expertise to make that ad system work for them so the alternative is to rely more on patronage to cover costs of production in return for a timed exclusive or something like that prior to the Amazon listing (which then is more pure profit than anything else).
And I fully expect more authors to retrench to personal sites with an active and daily blog vs. social media they don't control as more and more of them either get shut down by governments or run out of business by competitors or alternatives, coupled with email newsletters for anything significant to announce (and to use newsletters to give out that info before a more public one). For me, for now, I'll stick with this; maybe next year I'll consider building something bigger if it's warranted.
As I said before, another thing that's going to happen more often is offering related merchandise as the costs to do so drop. We're already there with shirts, posters, and mugs; this will become important as services like Patreon continue to converge themselves to death and non-pozzed alternatives like NewProject2 keep getting fucked with by Death Cultists great and small alike.
Patronage is, like it or not, a return to tradition. Get used to it.