The Patreon Debacle


#1

So what are we going to do about the whole Patreon going full asshole thing? I’m not really sure I want to continue supporting their service, but I would like to keep supporting LPZone. Is there any way this could be possible?


#2

Frankly, I’m hoping they backpedal.

We’ve discussed this situation a bit in the patron channel on the discord (in no official capacity whatsoever, mind you). Many people seem to cancel pledges to creators in general seeing as low pledges are the ones the most affected by the whole thing. Several creators went forward and posted pledges to them that have been canceled as well as the reason given for the cancellation (which is info Patreon gathers for the creator’s benefit when cancelling).

On one hand it would be wise to cancel any and all pledges to make sure Patreon doesn’t benefit from pretty much lying by claiming it was a good thing for creators. If you don’t like me calling them liars you might prefer calling it misrepresenting information. But on the other hand, I don’t want to cut my support to this site or other creators that I support.

It really really sucks.


#3

Yeah, the problem with that…

They’re probably not going to backpedal.


#4

At this point, they’ve lost most of their goodwill. So even if they backpedal, we now know that they would then seek another way to increase revenue, probably not in a way that involves feedback from creators.

As a patron of a handful of things, at the moment I’m going to keep my pledges in place. I had ideas to contribute to a few other creators in the near future, but that’s on hold until this is all settled out.

Even if I wasn’t in a position where I can absorb the fees in the short term, there is still over a week to go until the new model is put in place, and then a few more weeks until January pledges are collected. Thus, I expect a second mass exodus of patrons if nothing happens by December 18.

d.rip is supposed to get out of beta in February, and I (and I’m sure many others) can only hope their fee system is reasonable. Those details don’t seem to be public right now, but at least the current beta version doesn’t dump fees on the subscribers. If they modeled the fee system off of old Patreon where they minimized credit card fees by charging once for all subscriptions, then there’s probably no contest: everyone will want to get in even if not all features are there yet (e.g. Discord integration). And I’ll happily follow anyone who wants to move.


#5

now would be a good time for someone to code a patreon competitor site i’m just sayin


#6

Kickstarter has fortunate timing with d.rip on the way, that’s for sure.


#7

There are a couple but at the moment no one else has the useful stuff patreon has like account-locked RSS feeds (that I know podcast patreons such as say, the One Shot Podcast, use extensively)

The other main problem here is that when you get a lot of users integrated into one system, it’s always extremely disruptive when there’s any sort of migration, especially if there’s a bunch of competing services that crop up all at once.

This forum post here https://exilian.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5446.0 enumerates a bunch of alternatives. I’d think https://d.rip/ is probably the most promising since Kickstarter is already an e established brand, and at least Kickstarter is a Public Benefit Corporation on paper, so they’re probably less likely to pull this kind of bullshit. I’d also maybe look into https://en.liberapay.com/, which is a nonprofit instead of a for-profit corporation, and funded by donations.

But, like I said in the discord, I have literally zero skin in this thing, I had only made a patreon account like a week ago planning on throwing a couple bucks to a bunch of projects, but this whole debacle derailed those plans. I’ve always been fascinated by financial stuff like this so I’ve just been following the whole thing (and since I follow a ton of artist on twitter it’s been basically my entire timeline).


#8

I’m willing to give Patreon some benefit of the doubt when it comes to their motives here - the way they’ve explained it, they’re not really profiting from this move. Instead, they’ve decided to combat the “pledge to a Patreon account, enjoy some benefits and access to exclusive material, then cancel before payment comes due” problem that I guess was rampant on their platform (even though I’m sure any given account could do it at most once, right?) by changing their entire payment model to “everyone pays up front for their first part-month, at the full monthly rate,” which was already an option for bigger accounts. Then, to resolve the issue of people paying for a full month but getting only part of a month of benefits, they decided to switch all payments to recurring monthly based on the original pledge date rather than the first of the month, which eliminates the ability to make bulk payments at a single transaction fee as has been done in the past. Separate payments mean separate fees, so they added those fees to the payments rather than taking them out of the backend as they have been doing, and the whole “95%” thing was marketing attempting to put any positive spin on the idea that they could. Any increased revenue is going directly to those fees.

Now, had anyone at Patreon looked up the word “pro-rate” or bothered to think for a few seconds, they would undoubtedly have seen other solutions to the various problems above. One that I particularly like is charging for a full month up-front, as they have been doing, just to weed out total free-loaders, then pro-rating the additional portion of a month and adding that to the following monthly payment, or levying it as a closing charge if the pledge is canceled before the following payment comes due. (Or just ignoring the tiny additional charge, since they did get a month’s pledge for not much more benefit than that.) Another option, considerably less appealing, might be to accept sign-ups throughout the month but not actually start the benefits until the first of the following month, when the payment has gone through. It might make people reluctant to sign up during certain times of any given month, but there’s no need to pro-rate anything.

Jack Conte (CEO of Patreon) says that he’s taking the feedback into account, so there’s hope that he’s actually looking for another solution. Still, there has been talk that Patreon knew they’d be hemorrhaging customers in the short term and expected that the eventual result would be more money for everyone anyway, so there is a bit of misguided capitalism underpinning the whole thing.


#9

They’re a tech company getting venture capital money, I trust them as far as i can throw them.
And since I’m very small, that’s not far.


#10

That entire problem could be solved by letting someone slam, say, 30 bucks onto a balance on their account and then pull all the pledges to creators from that, though, since it would allow bundling your pledges together (in advance) and paying creators immediately (from your account balance instead of a credit card).


#11

I think there are other logistical problems with Patreon holding money in accounts as opposed to just moving it from one external account to another, not to mention that that puts the onus on customers to make manual payments into their account - what does Patreon do if the account doesn’t have the money to cover a payment?


#12

Patreon already can bundle all their pledges from one source together. This is a cash-grab, plain and simple.


#13

#14

They can bundle the pledges NOW, because the model only supports “One payment at the beginning of the month to all creators” or “One full-month payment for each new pledge, and then one payment at the beginning of the month”. They want to move to “One payment to each creator monthly starting from the original pledge date” for all creators and all pledges, which will then not support the lump payment. From what I’m hearing, it’s possible that there are nefarious motives behind the decision to move in that direction instead of more sensible solutions, and maybe they really are trying to trim the expense of managing smaller creators, but then that really raises the question of what the fees they charge are FOR if they’re not covering the expenses.

This reminds me a lot of what Viddler and Blip did when they decided to cut down their customer base to just the larger channels and run the front-end more like an obvious business instead of an open platform. I don’t know whether either one even exists anymore.


#15

Blip completely died when Maker (who bought Blip) decided to shut it down and create a replacement video website exclusively for the top creators who had contracts with Maker. The replacement was never made. I remember following someone who had to fight to get out of their contract after over a year passed of no further word on whether that website was actually coming (they were allowed to post new content on YouTube, but not old content).

Viddler seems to have gone in a similar manner, though I didn’t see its demise like I did with Blip. I remember that they decided to nuke all gaming content off their site a while back. Seems that whatever was left has since been torn down and replaced with a video hosting for business applications service.

Of course, the situation with Patreon should be different, since hosting videos with only advertising is simply not profitable. Meanwhile, Patreon, like Kickstarter, has an easy revenue stream: taking a cut of the money passed around. If they could have built themselves up on a leaner budget, they wouldn’t need to try and boost revenue like this (assuming that is the reason).


#16

Are there no alternatives to Patreon at all? There has to be a site that is doing something similar, right?


#17

As heyboots posted, there’s a list of alternatives here: https://exilian.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5446.0

Drip seems to be the closest alternative that is trying to be like Patreon, while most other options are decentralized, meant to be embedded on a website, meant to be used for publishing content, or more of a tip jar. A few seem to be Patreon-like, but have a focus on what content they want.


#18

Patreon announced a complete halt to their changes, and claim that they will work with creators to come up with a different solution to the problems they were trying to fix: https://blog.patreon.com/not-rolling-out-fees-change/


#19

Good. I can officially declare this topic resolved then.

Until the next time they fuck up. :stuck_out_tongue:


#20

Don’t be too hasty!

They can still screw it up, I’ll wait until I see what they come up with.

The fact that they are stepping back on their changes for now is good news, though.