Patreon, the membership platform that lets YouTubers and other creators run subscription services, has announced that it now has 3 million “patrons” — that is, people who actively pay creatives to access their online content on a monthly basis.
This represents a 50 percent increase on the 2 million patrons it announced last year.
Patreon was cofounded by YouTube musician Jack Conte, who was looking for a way to easily enable fans to contribute money for his online videos. He tapped his former college roommate Sam Yam, who now serves as Patreon’s CTO, and the duo launched Patreon in 2013.
In Conte’s own words, Patreon is “like a Kickstarter for people who release stuff on a regular basis.” The platform takes a 5 percent cut from all processed payments, while there are additional processing and payout fees.
The subscription business
What began as an idea for Conte to make money himself beyond YouTube advertisements is now a major business in its own right — it has secured north of $105 million since its inception nearly six years ago.
In addition to exceeding 3 million patrons, the company said that it expects to pass $1 billion in payments sometime in 2019. For context, last May Patreon announced that it had paid out $350 million to creators since its inception and that it expected to enable around $300 million worth of payments in 2018 alone. The company said that it is effectively doubling the amount of money it dispatches to creators each year.
It’s worth noting here that many of the popular content platforms allow creators to monetize their work directly, including YouTube, which has offered a tipping feature for a number of years. And last year, the Google-owned video platform launched a bunch of new monetization features, covering channel memberships, merchandise, and premieres. But one benefit of Patreon is that it’s platform agnostic, meaning anyone from podcasters to writers and musicians can create an account to monetize their work.
Moreover, Patreon said that it’s planning to expand into new monetization avenues in 2019, including merchandising — this is likely a direct result of its Kit acquisition last year.
“As we continue to grow, we’re still on a mission to power membership businesses for creators and be there to support,” the company said in a blog post. “We’re building more enhancements, features and integrations to help every creator easily activate their membership business so they can focus on what they truly love: creating.”