The Problem with Patreon

Monthly donations have become a recent trend in the online creation space, especially YouTube. Many creators are finding that ad revenue just doesn’t cut it anymore and so they’re turning to alternative methods of payment. Sponsorships are still a popular income for many, but apparently even that isn’t enough. The reason for the sudden uptake in monthly donations is due to one service: Patreon.

Patreon was founded just last year and already has thousands of creators onboard. The idea behind Patreon is similar to Kickstarter, but it’s a monthly donation and it’s not just  to fund one product. The perk system in Kickstarter is very similar in Patreon, however the goals are very different. Whilst Kickstarter aims to get a product made through fan support, Patreon is used by artists to build multiple projects. The idea excited many artists as it allowed them to improve their work and make new art. However, many creators saw it as an extra income which in my view is not it’s purpose.

Unfortunately, Patreon hasn’t made it clear to creators that its purpose is to support a project not an individual. Of course, many fans are more than happy to support a creator they love, however that’s what simple one-off donations are for. I do not mean to speak on behalf on Patreon and I’m sure they are happy with the way their service operates, however I believe this misuse has resulted in far to much controversy and divisions.

The division is simply based on money: those that pay and those that do not. This is an issue if Patreon is being misused because content every fan used to get is now being offered only to the “elite members” (the ones that can pay). This is a form of elitism – something you should never want. Many of us are used to free content and so do not agree with paying creators for content that used to be free. It’s not like it’s your fault that YouTube ad revenue has been poor so why do you face the consequences?

This wouldn’t be an issue if Patreon was used as intended because you wouldn’t be neglected of content, rather you’d not be receiving bonus content. There is a big difference between missing out on content and not receiving bonus content. A lot of creators like to muddle up the words to make it sound like bonus content when in fact it’s just content you used to get, but now have to pay for.

This change is no different to ISPs increasing prices because they had a rocky quarter or supermarkets replacing the good tagliatelle for a lousy one. As always the patrons (or in this case patreons) pay the price.

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