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Sip virtual Scotch with Ben

Joining a growing trend among artists, publishers and other creators, Ben Folds has opened an account at the crowdfunding site Patreon, and will be offering enhanced content and experiences to those who become regular paying members.

Launched this week, Ben’s Patreon page will offer perks like live streams from his studios, MP3s of unreleased songs, and the opportunity to contribute to songs that are written and performed on the spot.

Subscriptions start at US $5 per month, and for that amount, members will receive four unreleased MP3s of improvised song recordings each month. Those who chip in ten dollars will have access to a monthly live stream from Ben’s home studio, where you can get music tips from Ben, listen to some of his record collection with him, and watch him sip Scotch. (He didn’t say anything about whether a robe and slippers is suggested; you’ll have to provide your own Scotch.)

High rollers – those who send Ben twenty dollars per  month – get access to a live stream where Ben will compose a song using lyrics or other elements suggested by patrons. “At least once a month,” Ben said in an interview with Variety, “I’m going to write and record a song in the studio, generated by your lyrics, in an hour and change, live,” Together, patrons will decide which contributed lyrics Ben will work with.

Ben’s no stranger to impromptu songwriting, as those who have attended his shows in the past few years can attest. Started by an unknown fan who once yelled Rock This Bitch! at a show, Ben has continued the tradition of making up a song following that theme and incorporating current events or places specific to the location he’s playing in at nearly every show. He has also composed, taught and led numbers on the spot in his performances with symphony orchestras.

As this is written, Ben is appearing with colleague Amanda Palmer and Patreon’s co-founder Jack Conte at the Austin, Texas based South by Southwest Festival in a panel discussion on engaging with your community.

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