Patreon recently announced some changes to their fees policy, and tons of patrons and creators are revolting. While there are some arguments for the new system, as outlined in Patreon’s blog post about the change, many users argue that this new system punishes patrons who make a number of smaller pledges per month, rather than one large pledge. For many creators, those $1 and $5 pledges make up the vast majority of their Patreon income. And for many patrons, a $1 or $5 pledge is quite literally the most they can spare.
Beginning December 18, Patreon will add a new service fee of 2.9% + $0.35, to be paid by patrons on each individual pledge. The company argues that this was necessary to make creators’ income more predictable month-to-month. “Aside from Patreon’s existing 5% fee,” read their blog post on the change, “a creator’s income on Patreon often varied from month to month because of third-party processing fees. And, patrons may not have been aware that creators actually take home a lower percentage of their intended pledges because of those fees. Our goal is to make these paychecks as predictable as possible, so we’re restructuring how these fees are paid … Streamlining these fees for creators and patrons ensures that creators take home as much of their earnings as possible.”
In short, these fees used to be absorbed by the creators themselves, but now they’ll be paid by their patrons. This might seem like a laudable change, but it’s a system that discourages small pledges – which are the pledges that make up the bulk of most creators’ incomes.
As Endgadget‘s Swapna Krishna explained, “Every $1 pledge will cost patrons $1.38 under this new model. Small donors are, in essence, going to pay 38 percent more under this new system. This change incentivizes bigger individual pledges. One $10 pledge will now cost a supporter $10.64 per month, while ten $1 pledges will be $13.80. This change will gut the $1, and perhaps the $5, economy on Patreon.”
Numerous creators shared how the change is negatively affecting their pledges.
Patreon update: yes, the change matters to people pic.twitter.com/Yx6qfGW3Kd
— Mikey Neumann (@mikeyface) December 8, 2017
— Kate Leth ✨ (@kateleth) December 7, 2017
Just want you to see some of my deleted pledges and how your fee structure change is impacting creators & their livelihoods.
This isn’t even all of them. pic.twitter.com/hzhz1NSE3J
— Kate Stark (@katestark) December 10, 2017
— The Doubleclicks (@TheDoubleclicks) December 10, 2017
A number of users have been putting forward Drip and Gumroad as alternatives on social media, but I personally don’t know a ton about either of them. (I do have artist friends on both, though, and they all seem relatively satisfied.) If you’re considering switching to another platform besides Patreon, please take a close look at their content and fees policy before you make your own decision, particularly if you make adult content.
Patreon’s Jack Conte has reportedly been talking with creators about their concerns, so we’ll have to stay tuned to see how Patreon plans to fix this (if they even do).
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