Patreon’s CEO Issues an Apology, Scraps Proposed Patron Fees

Patreon founder Jack Conte:  “We messed up. We’re sorry, and we’re not rolling out the fees change.”

Several weeks ago, Patreon announced new service fees that quickly set off a firestorm.

Under the new system, patrons would have to pay an additional 2.9% for individual pledges along with a 35 cent fee.  This change would apply to all paid posts on the popular crowdfunding platform starting December 18th.

The response was swift and brutal.  As patrons quickly fled the platform, creators condemned the changes.  The new fees would most affect users who regularly donated $1 to support multiple creators on the crowdfunding platform.  Patrons found that for a $1 donation, they would have to pay $1.39.

Patreon quickly entered into crisis mode.  Using a chart, the company explained how the proposed changes would actually benefit content creators.

The problem?  No one bought it.  Some content creators, including Smarter Every Day, had shut down their pages.

Now, after a firestorm of criticism, the company has issued an apology.  Earlier today, Patreon announced that they would completely scrap the proposed changes.

Jack Conte issued the following tweet:

“We messed up. We’re sorry, and we’re not rolling out the fees change.”

You can check out the full statement below.

“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.  Additionally, we need to give you a more flexible product and platform to allow you to own the way you run your memberships.

I know it will take a long time for us to earn back your trust.  But we are utterly devoted to your success and to getting you sustainable, reliable income for being a creator.  We will work harder than ever to build you tools, functionality, and income, and our team won’t rest until Patreon is making that happen.

If you haven’t sent us a note yet, or if you don’t see your concerns listed above, please leave us your feedback here.

Thanks for continuing to create.  We are nothing without you, and we know that.



Featured image by kalhh (CC0)

3 Responses

  1. Andrew

    As with many tech companies – large and small – they will not learn about ‘communication’. Nor are these ‘disrupters’ proving themselves any less indifferent (in the first instance) to the ultimate customer than ‘old world’, pre-‘tech’ companies.

    For the most part they are simply in it to make money, buy a career regardless of the impact of their actions. They only think about the customer ex post facto. Human nature I guess. Funny and sad at the same time.

  2. Sam Rosenthal

    Here’s some advice from a musician :

    I started my band’s Patreon page in 2014, pretty early on. This disaster of a roll-out inspired me to reboot over at Bandcamp. It’s a much better place for music, anyway, as all the exclusive albums and unreleased tracks I give my patrons are in the same environment as the albums I am selling. It’s all within the app. Everything in one place.

    Bandcamp takes a bigger fee then the current Patreon, or the proposed (and scrapped) #newfees. However, it’s a better platform for us. Music fans are over there buying and discovering music all day; none of that happens at Patreon. In fact, I think 30%+ of my now-signing-up patrons are new people. This is going to be a good thing, once I get through the rough patch of migration.

    I know this probably sounds like an advertisement for Bandcamp. I’m saying this with 30+ years in the indie music world. I think this is a worthwhile move.

    Ultimately, I feel very burned by Patreon. And their “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. They really messed up, scared off patrons, didn’t listen to their users, etc. etc.