A patronage model means people, fans, strangers, or whoever pitch in money to fund a project or pay an artist for a creative endeavor. Patronage Funding has seen success in several different markets and it's been making quite a splash lately in the RPG industry. Older titles such as Wild Talents and Reign as well as the new Pathfinder Modern project are prime examples of Patronage and Ransom model funding in the gaming industry.
What I find fascinating about Kickstarter is that they've linked up with a trusted site to allow 'backers' to pledge money via the Amazon payment account that everyone and my mother already has. Additionally, if the goal for pledge money isn't reached, none of the backers are actually charged for their pledges.
Let me give you an example: I fork over $50 to help kickstart the Pathfinder Modern project. Not only does that give me access to their design blog and project forums, I'm also promised a hardcover copy of the finished book. So for $50, I'm preordering the book and helping to fund the project. Should the project not raise enough money, the book is never produced and I am never charged!
What a fascinating way to fund a project. What an interesting way to buy into, not only the finished product, but the design process as well.
What does this mean for you? What does it mean for me? Who knows?
But I'll be damned if I can't think up a project worth kickstarting for a $100 or so. You know, just to test it out. :-)