What the Patreon fee changes mean
 
You may have received an email last week about Patreon changing its fee structure. This change is one I strongly disagree with. It is something I believe is going to disproportionately harm patrons on a low income, and goes against everything I liked and admired about the concept of Patreon.

The email sent by Patreon seemed to me to be carefully worded in an attempt to hide what was actually happening. If you didn't look too closely, it might have seemed the change it was describing was an existing fee moving from being paid by creators to being paid by patrons. What it actually is, is a wholly new fee being paid by patrons, for each creator that they are pledged to.


How things worked previously:
At the start of each month, a patron would be charged for all of their pledges at once in a batch. There would be a single transaction fee charged for this by whatever payment provider the patron uses. The transaction fee would be the same no matter if the patron was pledged to one creator or fifty creators, but it was invisible to the patron. The transaction fee was taken out of the money the creators received, spread across all of the creators that the patron was pledged to.

How things will work if these changes happen:
A patron will be charged a 2.9%+$0.35 transaction fee by Patreon itself, for each pledge individually. If a patron is pledged to fifty creators, they will be charged Patreon's new transaction fee 50 times each month. This new fee is on top of the amount patrons pledge to their creators.

You may have been told that this change means creators get more of what you pay. This is not true. If you leave your existing pledges unchanged, creators might receive a few cents more from those pledges than before, but you will be paying a lot more than before for those same pledges. The percentage of the money you pay that creators receive will be lower. In the case of small pledges, it will be a lot lower.

Because patreon's new transaction fee includes a flat $0.35, this change is also going to hit hardest those who pledge small amounts to multiple creators. These kind of micro-crowdfunding pledges are what patreon was built on. They're what made the platform so exciting and interesting. I really don't want to see those kinds of pledges discouraged, or to see people with low incomes get hit with high fees they weren't expecting.


Since the announcement, a bunch of stuff has happened.
There has been a massive outcry about these changes from creators. No creator was consulted on this, almost every creator disagrees with it, and it does not seem like any of us are being listened to. The idea of Patreon getting more money is not what is being objected to, but the impact a per-pledge transaction fee will have on patrons and creators.

It is really hard to say what Patreon are thinking, or why they are doing this. This is because their communication about it has all seemed either deceitful or madness.

After the outcry from creators, Patreon updated their blog post about the changes with some long term plans that they are using as justification. You can read that here, if you scroll down to the 'Update 3:57 PST' section. None of what is in that blog post update was alluded to even slightly in their emails about the change, so I don't know how much of it is even genuine. But they say their plans are to at some point stop batching a patrons' pledges together, and to instead take a new pledge immediately, and then charge them their future pledges for that creator on the monthly anniversary of that first pledge. This would lead to a transaction fee from the patron's payment provider on each pledge to each creator, which would be covered by this new fee charged by patreon.

That's the 'madness' I mentioned. The problems that those long-term plans claim to be trying to solve are, in mine and many other creators' view, incredibly minor compared to the problems introduced by ending the batching of pledge payments. Batching multiple pledges together to only be charged a single transaction fee by the payment providers is one of the biggest services that patreon provides. It's why we benefit from all using the same site for our campaigns. It is what makes micro-crowdfunding possible.

Some people have speculated about hidden reasons why Patreon might be compelled to end pledge batching, or why discouraging small pledges might be their actual aim, but all of Patreon's communication about it is still claiming they are charging these new fees because they think it will help creators.


What can we do about it?
If you'd like to write to patreon to tell them what you think about this change, this is the contact form I was linked to in their email to me about the changes. I believe if you select 'get help' rather than 'feedback', you will get a response from someone at Patreon. I suggest making clear that it is the $0.35 fee being charged multiple times per month to one patron that is the objectionable change.

If you are affected by these changes, and feel that you have to make changes to your pledges and won't be able to continue your pledge to me, I understand. I hope that you'll still 'follow' me on patreon so we can stay in touch by email. If you think it would be easier for you for now to give a lump sum rather than a monthly pledge through patreon, I can offer this paypal.me link, and a promise that we'll work out another method to get you access to preview downloads.

If Patreon does not change course, and these changes start at the end of the month as planned, I will have to start looking seriously at alternatives.


Thanks so much to all of you for joining me on this, and I hope this isn't the end.


UPDATE:
Patreon have announced they will not be rolling out these fees changes.
They are still looking for feedback and advice, and they have a new feedback form for that.