patreon fees

Patreon, a platform that lets individual consumers directly fund independent content creators (including sportswriters and podcasters), caused a major fuss Thursday by changing its fee structure in a way designed to chiefly benefit… Patreon.

Previously, creators were promised at least 80 percent of all pledges, with Patreon taking the rest. Under the new system, which will begin December 18 and apply to existing pledges on January 1, creators will reap 95 percent of the pledged amount with the burden being passed to the patrons, who will now be charged a 2.9 percent fee plus a 35-cent flat fee. And though Patreon is spinning the move as a way to offer more stability to creators, it seems it will most benefit the company itself.

Patreon’s new flat fee will particularly hit patrons who pledge small amounts — and therefore the creators who receive those small pledges. On a $1 pledge, for example, creators currently get 80-95 cents, or 80-95 percent. The new system would require a patron to pay $1.38 for a $1 pledge, with 95 cents (69 percent) going to the creator. The big winner in that scenario is Patreon, which goes from receiving between 5 and 20 cents on a $1 pledge to receiving 43 cents. The big losers, of course, are the patrons, who pay a whopping 38 percent more with little of that difference going to the creators they hope to support.

A Twitter user named Burrito Tim broke down how the change will affect his pledges and discovered he creators will benefit slightly and Patreon will benefit greatly. This effect would be even more extreme if he decreases his pledges to compensate for the increased fees.

This change has not gone over well at all. Patrons, of course, are angry about being asked to pay more, with only a portion of that money going where they want it to. And many creators aren’t thrilled either, given that the fees risk driving off patrons. NASCAR writer Jeff Gluck, one of the most successful sportswriters to utilize Patreon, wrote a post Wednesday warning his patrons about the fees and apologizing for their increased burden.

Personally, I feel bad about this and would rather they not add a fee onto your pledges. You guys have been so generous already, so I don’t like the idea of an extra cost (even if it’s only 50 cents). I’d rather take that hit myself, honestly. So if you want to reduce your pledges to adjust for the extra amount they’re charging you, I definitely understand and will make sure you don’t lose any benefits that come with your reward tier.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy to be getting more of the actual pledged amount instead of the credit card companies snatching it up! I just don’t like the thought of you guys having to be the ones who pay for it.

Other Patreon creators have attested to an exodus of patrons as a response to the change.

Public opinion about Patreon’s change can be best summed up in the ratio on the site’s announcement.

So yeah, people aren’t pleased, and that could have consequences for Patreon, which is likely feeling pressure to raise revenues after a large round of funding at a highly optimistic valuation. We will quickly see whether the backlash to the fee structure forces the company into reversing course.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • PAI

    This era of the internet is starting to suck. All these sites, from Patreon to Youtube, start out as great partners for content creators, then at some point start sticking it to them. Whether it’s financial, or going after opinions they don’t like, I really feel for people who make an income via this route.

  • Frobozz Dingle

    I deleted my pledges…this is just more of that ticket master mentality…it is not about helping the creators…its all about getti g more green to the administration…bye bye patreon