Several creators on membership platform Patreon have criticized the company’s new fee structure after it reportedly caused patrons to leave in protest.
Patreon, which allows users, or “patrons” to donate a monthly sum to their favorite content creators, has become a popular service amid increasing YouTube demonetization.
“Many artists rely on small pledges of $1 or so per month, which is partly why Patreon’s new fee is causing an uproar in the artist community,” reported CBS News. “The service is planning to add a new service fee of 2.9 percent of each pledge plus 35 cents, which will be paid by the patrons. For those paying just $1 a month, that represents a roughly 38 percent increase in their costs.”
CBS News further explained that because patrons are now being forced to foot the large fee, many have decided to leave the platform, resulting in a drop in revenue for creators.
“A few hundred people HAVE left my Patreon in the last few days, mostly from the $1 level,” complained musician Amanda Palmer following the update. “We don’t own the land. Patreon does and as stated above: they are not, fundamentally, our friends. Even if we like them. They’re a company. They exist to make a profit.”
In a blog post, Patreon defended the fee structure update by claiming it was in the interest of creators on the platform.
“We want you to know that we approach every change with a creator-first mindset, aiming to help creators grow their businesses,” the company proclaimed. “In preparation for this change, we ran experiments and months and months of research to understand patrons’ potential reactions and we found that many patrons were happy knowing that this change will send more money to creators. While some patrons may leave in the short-term, we know this will help creators earn more money in the long term.”
“Every decision we make — including this one — is a part of our goal to help creators establish memberships, earn salaries, and build careers,” they continued, adding, “Standardizing third-party fees in this way helps ensure that creators can continue to get paid making content their fans love.”
Patreon also claimed that the update “was never (and still isn’t) about making more money for Patreon as a company.”
“This is a strategic move to make our platform even better for creators and patrons in the future. We want a Patreon where all creators receive their money as soon as a patron pledges,” they declared. “We want a Patreon where your patrons never have to wonder when they’ll be charged, or how much they’ll be charged, and this is the first step toward the improvements we’re making so that Patreon becomes a better system for everyone.”
Despite their attempts at explaining the fee update, users took to Twitter to complain that patrons were still leaving the platform.
It's been almost a week since @Patreon's grand unveiling of their new structure, everyone is still angry, patrons are leaving the platform in droves, and the Powers That Be still haven't said a damn thing about the backlash.
Real professional, guys.
— Lindsay Ellis (@thelindsayellis) December 12, 2017
Old system for a $1 pledge:
Patron pays $1, creator gets $0.80 minimum (80%+)
Patron pays $1.38, creator gets $0.95 (69%).
So, if you're someone who pledges $1 to lots of people, this new fee system ensures that you pay more money, while the creators see less of it
— Tom Wakefield (@t_wakefield) December 7, 2017
Hi @Patreon. I don't feel this is "the best step". This hurts my patrons, who are being generous enough to support me with what they can. Charging them a fee I am content to pay is ludicrous. pic.twitter.com/aY2HkzbQF1
— Amy 👑 King (@sephiramy) December 6, 2017
— Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon) December 7, 2017
— Antifa Sleepersofa (@jephjacques) December 6, 2017
In 2015, Patreon suffered a hack, resulting in the unauthorized access of email addresses, posts, registered names, and “some billing and shipping addresses.”
The platform has also been frequently used by social justice activists, including “game developer” Zoe Quinn and “Yes You’re Racist,” an anonymous account that was banned from the service after it made errors while publicly exposing alleged attendees of the Charlottesville march in August.