Just a note before I get into this, I wanted to make it clear this is just my idea of what could work. Ultimately what the Dunesteef guys do is up to them, but if you as fans show your support I'm sure it'll improve the chances of it being implemented.
Why I think a Dunesteef Patreon would be successful
It should be obvious that I'm a huge fan of the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, that it means a lot to me. It's my favorite podcast, and I listen to many. In my most stressful times at work, when I am working six days a week with long shifts, the Dunesteef keeps me sane. But perhaps more important than any of that, it was listening to the Dunesteef that inspired me to write again. What could be better than that? Though I am biased, I think there are some qualities to the Dunesteef that most people can appreciate, and these give it the potential to grow through something like Patreon.
The story selection is very strong, with a better hit to miss ratio (in my opinion) than the other fiction podcasts out there. A fair case could be made that since the Dunesteef has episodes less frequently than other podcasts, they can make sure the ones they do release always count. But I think it has more to do with Rish and Big's eye for what makes a good story, and the wider scope of stories that belong on the Dunesteef. All genres of speculative fiction seem to be equally represented, and the emphasis on story quality regardless of theme gives the Dunesteef a broad appeal. I think this makes Dunesteef stories more accessible, which could result in a larger audience.
Of equal importance to the quality of the stories in a fiction podcast is the execution, and the Dunesteef gets great marks here as well. The narration and voice acting is absolutely phenomenal, regularly elevating the stories they interpret. The editing, whether you're talking sound quality, music, or effects, is always solid. There aren't a lot of podcasts that do full cast audio fiction, and one could argue that no one does it better. Why? Because it's really, really hard. This is a double edged sword (please excuse the phrase) because while it makes the Dunesteef a cut above the rest it also makes the podcast less frequent. Unfortunately, frequency has a much bigger impact on success than quality does, which is why the Dunesteef is the sleeper hit that it is. This is something the Patreon would mitigate if it really took off.
And then there's the after talk aspect of the Dunesteef. Rish and Big has succeeded in fostering the same connection that local talk radio DJs have cultivated with their audiences for years. While it is possible (though incredibly difficult) to do full cast audio fiction on par with the Dunesteef, it would be impossible to reproduce the best friend dynamic that Big and Rish bring to the table. It's entertaining, it's funny, and at times it's even touching. The conversations are often topical and geek-centric, which means it is likely to appeal to practically anyone who bothers with podcasts in the first place. The after show talks seem to be something the Dunesteef guys are embarrassed about at times, and they are quick to mention "we keep it after the stories so you can easily skip it", but I seriously doubt very many listeners do.
The Dunesteef is a great example of the all-substance-no-flash creative efforts that are done for all the right reasons. They are that hard to find diamond in the rough, their only weaknesses being presentation, advertising, and upload schedule. Patreon was designed for these sorts of projects precisely, where "more" is the only thing fans can really ask for.
What might a Dunesteef Patreon look like?
Here's a quick mock up I made based on the Patreons I've seen around. Keep in mind that the Dunesteef guys are not at all obligated to use any of these ideas. In fact, with Patreon the creators aren't really obligated to do anything. You are supporting them as artists, with good faith that they will continue making the stuff you love in return. It is very similar to the monthly donations the Dunesteef is accepting now, the main difference being that with a Patreon things are structured so that you have a clear idea of how they might use your donations.
Included are some ideas I have for how the Dunesteef could be updated more frequently, which would result in more success in general.
(each level grants you the benefits of all previous levels as well)
$2 per month - Access to incentive episodes
You'd get one incentive episode every month you continue to support at this level. If the Patreon is especially successful, the Dunesteef guys may consider doing more incentive episodes (perhaps one a month) to keep up with demand.
$5 per month - Choose Your Own Adventure Voting
This is based on an idea mentioned in (I believe) a recent episode where Rish and Big were discussing potentially having a story that progresses based on interaction with the community. They cited the issue that it could get messy if they passed the story from person to person. A Choose Your Own Adventure style story could be more easily controlled, with the directions the story can go as options in a poll, after which Big and Rish would take turns writing the next monthly segment using the highest voted concept. Maybe every few months these can turn into a series of audio productions as well. The CYOA Voting concept has shown great success in Patreons for comics and the like, so there's no reason it shouldn't be successful in writing.
$10 per month - One free ebook from Rish Outfield or Big Anklevich per month
Supporting the Dunesteef at this level gets you access to one of the short stories Big and Rish have for sale, each month. Obviously, the Dunesteef guys would have to determine what is available, though it's safe to say that these would be short stories, perhaps even novellas or collections. Maybe audio versions could be available this way too. This also acts as an incentive for them to continue self publishing every month.
$25 per month - CYOA Discussions
Supporting the Dunesteef at this level gives you access to a brain storm session over skype with the Dunesteef guys once a month about what the next segment of the CYOA story should be. This would give you influence (but not explicit control) of what gets voted on the following month. Also talking to the Dunesteef guys would just be pretty cool. The first time you donate at this level, you get a Dunesteef t-shirt as well.
Obviously, the dollar values on these can and should be modified based on what the Dunesteef guys find reasonable/acceptable. I had other ideas, such as appearance as a character in the CYOA story, or a song request from Sir Fake Sean Connery, but I wasn't sure what dollar level those should be at. I'm sure Rish and Big can think of other incentives as well.
This is where the pie in the sky dreams go. I'm not going to even attempt to assign real dollar values to these, that will be up to the Dunesteef guys.
BMSE / TWSC - tree fiddy
These contests require a lot of work, which is why the Dunesteef guys have been doing things like Not the Bees and the Xmas event — they're trying to get the momentum to do another contest. That's why this appears so early on the list, they just need a little push.
Convention trip - $999.99
Back when Big and Rish went to the New Media Expo, they got super charged about doing more with their creative outlet. The New Media Expo wasn't the best fit for them, sure, but I think the point was meeting with other creative people. I think the Dunesteef guys should look for another convention, something that appeals better to what the Dunesteef is about/ is more accessible to voice actors and other friends of the show, and put that as a goal. Perhaps fans could even meet them at one of these.
Rate increases - 3 billion in unmarked twenties
When the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine first began, Big said that one of their goals was to be the highest paying market in audio fiction. Increasing rates requires more support, more support requires an increase in listeners, and an increase in listeners requires more episodes. I recommend that the Dunesteef guys look into paying their editors and voice talent as well (or increase the rate if they already are), which should make the episodes come more smoothly. These rates increases should probably be separate goals, and obviously will require some calculation on their part.
Bi-monthly release schedule - small loan of a million dollars
I think as far as full cast audio productions go, this is the absolute quickest that is sustainable without spreading yourself too thin. While a weekly podcast would be ideal, I think the most sensible way to do that is to combine the That Gets My Goat feed with the main Dunesteef feed. This is based on my assumption that the fraction of listeners who abhor the talk segments is probably smaller than Rish and Big think, but mainly it's just easier to produce TGMG episodes. Having two Audio Fiction episodes a month, with TGMG filling in the empty spots is very feasible should the Patreon be successful. This goal would reflect the amount per month it would take for Big and Rish to devote the time required.
Submissions open - a haypenny
If the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine increases the amount of stories produced per year, those stories have to come from somewhere. At this goal, the Dunesteef will accept normal submissions again. This will require more oompa loompas and a slush pile editor like Sudden Death Nicole to be possible, and a lot more work in general. But money helps.
Full-time Dunesteef - The Moon
This is the highest goal for a reason. At this amount, Rish and Big would be able to quit their dayjobs and do the Dunesteef for a living. Obviously, it would have to be pretty steady, and they would have to still have an interest in the Dunesteef to even consider this. But I'm going to shoot for the moon on this one… why not?
The above goals should be changed, rearranged, removed, or added depending on what Big and Rish are interested in and can realistically manage. They don't need to be set in stone before the Patreon launches.
Patreon has been responsible for making the dreams of a lot of artists (and their fans by proxy) come true. While this is inspirational as hell, I also think it has lead to an impractical all-or-nothing outlook on the process. If nothing comes from it besides a few more donations, that will be a victory enough on its own. As far as I know, Patreon is a no-risk endeavor for the creators (some creators have run off with the money without delivering the goods, and there seemed to be no legal recourse), so there's nothing to lose. The Dunesteef guys should only commit as much time as they can justify given how successful the Patreon is. Moving the needle even a little is probably still worth the effort, in my opinion.
If you're a fan of the Dunesteef and you like what you see, please post here expressing your support. So much of doing podcasts is like sending out a message in a bottle, with little hope of hearing back from your audience. The Dunesteef guys are highly motivated by fan input, so please post here and let's try to get the ball rolling.