Patreon Cancels Fee Changes, Will Find A Different Fix

Patreon’s Jack Conte has walked back the controversial new fee structure that was scheduled to go into effect later this month, with the implied promise the company will find a solution to its problems that doesn’t hurt creators.

Conte’s statement, “We messed up. We’re sorry, and we’re not rolling out the fees change”, says in part —

Creators and Patrons,

We’ve heard you loud and clear. We’re not going to rollout the changes to our payments system that we announced last week. We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we’re going to fix them in a different way, and we’re going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around. Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I’m sorry. It is our core belief that you should own the relationships with your fans. These are your businesses, and they are your fans.

I’ve spent hours and hours on the phone with creators, and so has the Patreon team. Your feedback has been crystal clear:

  • The new payments system disproportionately impacted $1 – $2 patrons. We have to build a better system for them.
  • Aggregation is highly-valued, and we underestimated that.
  • Fundamentally, creators should own the business decisions with their fans, not Patreon. We overstepped our bounds and injected ourselves into that relationship, against our core belief as a business.

We recognize that we need to be better at involving you more deeply and earlier in these kinds of decisions and product changes….

Although Patreon folded on their proposed fee changes, the damage to creators’ income has already been done. One author offered this analogy to describe the moral effect of today’s announcement:

Webcomic artist Zack Morrison voiced what must be a lingering concern for many creators:

Here are some reactions tweeted by people in the sff field:

  • Kameron Hurley

  • Catherynne Valente

  • Seanan McGuire

  • M.C.A. Hogarth

  • Kevin Sonney

  • Patrick Rothfuss

  • Aidan Moher

  • Fireside Fiction Company

[Thanks to Dann and Mark Hepworth for the story.]

17 thoughts on “Patreon Cancels Fee Changes, Will Find A Different Fix

  1. I’m guessing that when all those $1 and $2 donors started dropping in droves, suddenly the subscriber numbers and monthly revenues which Patreon had been using to lure VCs got way smaller than they had expected them to.

    People who have never had to scrape just to eat, or decide which necessity they have to do without, on a daily basis, often can’t imagine what it’s like for the people living with that reality. I suspect that Patreon’s execs live in a world where “creators” have masses of fans and make shit-tons of money, and everyone else is irrelevant.

    I had held off deleting my pledges until my creators decided what they wanted to do. But a lot of Patrons have already bailed, and many of them won’t be coming back. I’m seeing lots of small creators’ distressed posts about how how “barely making ends meet” has, for them, gone back to “deciding which necessity to do without”.

  2. Most of my pledges are back in place. I didn’t renew one of them as I was already considering eliminating it. It was a podcast that has become tiring (to me) recently.

    They have offered an opportunity for creators and patrons to comment as well.

    Regards,
    Dann

  3. This is very good news, and the SF community ought to give themselves a bit of a pat on the back for spontaneously rallying round and helping to put on the pressure, along with the many others who use Patreon and were equally vocal. For example, I saw posts like Natalie Luhrs breakdown of the math being quoted far out of SF circles to really good effect.

    A note of caution though – they clearly still intend to change something and it’s likely that the smaller (and less profitable) end of their market will still be the losers.
    The time pressure to find a non-Patreon solution may be off to some extent, but I think everyone on Patreon ought to at least scope out their plan B and get a skeleton presence on some other service ready for the next time. You may never need to use it, but the simple existence of an exit strategy puts pressure on Patreon to make sure you don’t want to use it

  4. I had switched my Apex subscription from Patreon to their own store, and I will keep it there. Another of my creators is still setting up another service so as not to have all their eggs in one basket. I will switch all who have alternatives, stick with those who don’t, and not add anything new through Patreon.

  5. This makes me wonder what it would cost for a larger actor to create something like this to be run on a non-profit basis.

  6. Why on earth don’t they make a minimum pledge amount–say five bucks–they can make a profit on and then vary the period on which it’s billed? If it costs too much to process a dollar payment every month, then process a five dollar payment every five months. It seems obvious. What am I missing?

  7. All the creators that I backed via Patreon moved to other methods shortly after the initial announcement. I happily moved off Patreon without a second thought.

  8. I just got an email from Patreon inviting me to repledge to those creators I had eliminated and giving me a clickable link for doing so. Since I only deleted magazine subscriptions (that I then added in other ways, along with direct donations to make up the difference), I won’t do that. But I’m kind of impressed by the quality of the work going into making up for their screw up.

  9. I just got that link, too. I’d already repledged to Fireside Fiction on my own, and I think I’ll wait till next month to see if I’m going to keep my Apex print subscription through their store or move it back to Patreon. But yeah, this is a good step for them.

  10. Yeah, I had already moved my biggest pledge (a sub, really), after the creator added it to their webstore. The others I had held off. Actually, I added one. I’m glad to see there is no longer an emergency, but stand ready to move as creators prefer.

  11. I find it hard to believe that there are serious costs to this system; ISTM that everything should be automated, which would hold down costs even for small payments. (e.g., if someone is making several small payments that should still be one credit-card (or equivalent) transactions). I would be surprised if they were looking at a serious revenue drop, since they seemed to be aiming at driving away small donations; surely they did the numbers on what would happen if all the pledges of up to ${1,2,3,…} went away? I suspect they were more shocked that donors would walk away from them rather than concentrate payments on fewer people; could their VC support may have planned to monetize those donors (e.g., send them advertising)?

  12. Kudos to Patreon for admitting they messed up, walking it back, and saying they’ll actually talk with people before jumping off a cliff next time. Let’s hope they do that (talk with creators/patrons/SOMEONE before jumping). 😉

  13. @Hampus: I have been thinking the same thing. I have… thoughts, something taht would charitably be called “a rough sketch on the back of a napkin” and a possible organisational framework in mind. Unfortunately, the organisational framework is based on Swedish law, which is not the country I live in. I may spend some time over the weekend talking to some Swedes I will be meeting in Östersund (and if wanted/needed, we could probably sync up tomorrow evening during my stop-over in Stockholm,since I’m not catching a train oop north until Saturday early morning).

  14. Got the email from Patreon. Thought that was something they absolutely should do when I saw Aidan Moher’s tweet above. But the damage is done. I don’t plan on switching anything back and will move more support off Patreon when available.

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