Crowdfunding website Patreon is an essential organ for content creators and artists online. Whether campaigns are started to support websites, YouTube channels and other art projects, these creators depend on pledges from users to continue on their work. Patreon last week announced a change that would require fees for pledges, even and especially for patrons pledging as little as $1 or $5. But according to a blog post shared Wednesday, Patreon is backing off from these proposed changes.
“We messed up. We’re sorry, and we’re not rolling out the fees change,” is the loud-and-clear title of the blog post. The original proposal, which would have gone into effect on Dec. 18, would have had creators pay a five percent processing fee (as opposed to the 7-to-15 percent they currently pay), but in return patrons would have to pay 2.9 percent, plus 35 cents for each pledge to cover costs.
The community did not take well to this news.
Patrons felt left out of the conversations regarding these changes, and unsubscribed from Patreon campaigns in retaliation. Patreon CEO Jack Conte acknowledges that this backlash contributed to the platform’s reversal: “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.”
Continuing to elaborate on the reversal, Conte laid out the following bullet points:
*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.
Conte promises “a more flexible product and platform,” and admits, “I know it will take a long time for us to earn back your trust.” But for Patreon and its many creators, the damage has been done, and only time will tell whether those patrons will flock back to the website to support their favorite artists.