Like a “Like,” but Better: See.Me Lets You Tip Artists With Actual Money

Published on April 4, 2013
by Peter Kafka

seeme support meThere are lots of ways to tell people you like them on the Internet. But if you really want to be serious about your affection, try expressing it with money.

That’s the thinking behind a new take on the tip jar at See.Me, a social network for creative people and people who like looking at things creative people make.

Or maybe it’s an old take, familiar to any sidewalk busker: If you like what I’m doing, how about a little cash?

“It’s like a thumbs-up. But there are a lot of thumbs-up on the Web,” said See.Me CEO William Etundi Jr. “What we want to do is make it more meaningful.”

See.Me is essentially a collection of online portfolios from artists and other creatives; unlike other online art sites, it’s not aiming to be a marketplace. It’s also not trying to replicate the work that Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites are doing.

Instead, it’s supposed to be a place where people who like to make cool stuff get to show it off. Until this month, See.Me users were primarily supposed to show their appreciation with online kudos, and by telling their friends about stuff they liked.

Now the site is letting people pay up, too. Users can contribute tips of $1, $7, or a dollar amount an artist picks; they can also create recurring payments. The money might be used to help someone finish a painting or an album, but it doesn’t have to be tied to a particular project. Artists can acknowledge patrons with gifts of their own, but aren’t required to do so.

If you give Aaron Taylor Kuffner $7, for instance, he’ll send you an hour of music from the Gamelatron Project — which, as you know, is a robotic Indonesian musical contraption: Aaron Taylor Kuffner

And if you give circus performer Anya Sapozhnikova $70, she’ll give you two tickets to the “Peter Pan” performance she wants to stage next month: Anya Sapozhnikova

See.Me plans to make money by charging patrons a transaction fee when they buy credits on the site, and by charging artists a fee when they turn their credits into cash.

Etundi is also requiring artists to spend a few dollars supporting other users before they can start accepting tips themselves, a strategy he thinks will create a “fluid social economy.”

All of which sounds like a great experiment to watch. Right now, See.Me, backed by $2.25 million in funding from the likes of OATV and Founder Collective, is a fairly modest site, with 650,000 users.

I can imagine that a niche site with a passionate following might get many of its users to take out a credit card or hand over a PayPal credential. But I’m not sure what happens if the network ever reaches 25 million users or more, a number Etundi says he wants to hit.

Return to: Like a “Like,” but Better: See.Me Lets You Tip Artists With Actual Money