Patreon, a platform serving independent creators like musicians, visual artists and other performers, is running into problems with its fee structure. When Patreon first appeared, it was an innovative platform meant specifically for artists and their fans. Fans, or patrons, signed up for the platform via subscription and content creators were paid for their content once a month. However, this model has proven unsustainable. The company recently instituted and soon rescinded, a fee structure that did little to satisfy patrons or creators.
The new fees were implemented per piece, meaning that patrons had to pay a fee for each piece of content they supported, rather than paying one fee for multiple, simultaneous pledges. On the creator end, increased fees led to canceled subscriptions and loss of funding. The changes were instituted to prevent subscribers from gathering content and then canceling, sidestepping full-price subscription fees. Unlike other content creation platforms like YouTube, Patreon only takes 5 percent off the top, so subscriptions are important. In addition, the company is providing updated monetization tools for content creators in the visual arts and modeling industries. Though the company has raised $60 million and has $107 million in funding, it seems more financing is needed to keep the platform on a path toward growth.
Now the start-up is “stuck between a rock and a hard place,” having to satisfy investors, patrons and artists all while maintaining an outdated payment structure. But Patreon CEO Jack Conte has not given up this quest.
The canceled fee structure was poorly introduced, according to Conte. When Patreon withdrew the fees he issued an apology, telling subscribers and creators that “We messed up. We’re sorry, and we’re not rolling out the fees change.”
Conte told TechCrunch that Patreon’s older fee schedule was developed in 25 days by a former co-founder. The now-canceled fee structure was implemented within two weeks, a timeline that Conte admits was far too fast. The organization is working on gaining more feedback and further insights before implementing any payment changes. Patreon was founded as an alternative payment structure meant to connect independent artists with sponsors. Conte went on to say that the organization had gotten “in the way of creators and their fans.”