The Patreon Bullshit

Posted by Shannon Haddock on December 10, 2017 in Rants |

(And probably other stuff because it will be a miracle if I ever make a blogpost that doesn’t wander all over the place.)

So, for those who don’t know Patreon is a site that basically lets you pay people various amounts of money on a recurring basis in return for various rewards . . . or sometimes just for the knowledge that you’re helping a creator you like keep the lights on while they make more stuff.

Long story short, they recently decided to charge an additional 2.9% plus 35 cents on each payment someone made to creators they’re supporting.  That was bad enough because many people pledge $1 to lots of different creators, meaning that, for example, what had once been one $10 charge that gave $1 to ten people would now be ten different $1.38 charges.

This was supposed to be for the good of the creators, because now instead of 80 to 88 cents per dollar people gave them they’d get 95 cents per dollar.

Yeah, you’d pay 38 cents more for each $1 pledge and the creator gets between 7 and 15 cents more and the credit card processors get the rest, and this is somehow supposed to be a change to benefit the creator.

Anyway, that was bad enough.  To stay within my budget I was going to have to end my support for one creator and spent most of an afternoon trying to decide which one.

Then I saw this:  https://twitter.com/juliedillon/status/939210129261473792

If the link should happen to not work, it’s a quote from Patreon’s growth manager saying — in marketing speak — they don’t want to have lots of creators who only make a little money.  The linked blogpost talks more about this sort of thing and the general gist of it is that they don’t mind losing creators who aren’t making much because having only the ones making lots of money will make them look more attractive to other artists who are already making lots of money.

In other words, “Screw the little guys” is pretty damned close to official company policy.

Now, you see, I’d been planning on launching a Patreon this year.  People don’t want my stories when they’re 99 cents but do when they’re free, and all Universal Nexus stories are under a Creative Commons license anyway, so I really can’t bring myself to charge for the stuff I write anymore.  But, as much as I hate it, we do live in a society where money is a useful and needed thing.  So I was basically going to say “Hey, give me a dollar a month, and I’ll let you read stuff before it’s published.”  You’d be paying for early access.  Or just because you liked the idea of me having a little bit more spending money.  (And there would’ve been niftier benefits for giving me more per month than that.)

But, I don’t write marketable stuff.  Unless there’s an untapped market out there for character-focused, slice-of-life stories in a space opera setting, I’m never going to make a lot of money at this.

And Patreon said they don’t want people like me.

So — while I’ll still find some way to get money to the creators I was supporting — I’m not using Patreon at all any more.  If they don’t want me as a creator because I’d make them look bad, then I don’t want to give them 5 cents from every dollar I gave a creator on there.

I’ve seen people criticizing withdrawing your support for creators, saying that doing so is “putting your politics ahead of people being able to make a living”.  No. Because this isn’t an empty political statement.  This is refusing to support a company that has said it doesn’t want my business.  They don’t want my business, they don’t get my business in any fashion.  That’s not politics, that’s principles.

Besides, it’s not like I’ve gone “Well, I guess I have more spending money now since I’m not using Patreon any more.”  It’s changed what method I use to get money to creators, but I’ll do everything I can to get money to them.  Because I still care about them.  Even if Patreon doesn’t.

As for my plans to make a Patreon for myself this year . . . I don’t know what I’m going to do now.  There aren’t any alternative sites (yet, apparently there’s one that’s in invite-only beta right now) that have all the things that made Patreon a better idea than just putting up a PayPal or Ko-fi or whatever link.  The closest alternative doesn’t let you give your supporters any rewards, and that doesn’t appeal to me.  I feel like — even if you are just paying me because you like me and don’t give a damn about my stories — I should be able to give you something as a thank you, even if it’s just a picture of my cats or something.  The suggestion I’ve seen to get around that by setting up an email list of your supporters and emailing them the rewards sounds like the sort of thing I’d utterly fuck up.  So, that’s on hold for now.

(Though if anyone does feel like sending me money, just tell me and I will find a way for you to get it to me.)

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