Yesterday Hank Green submitted himself to one of Reddit’s most time honoured traditions, the AMA. As usual he had some interested thoughts to share on the culture of online video and the future of the industry that he’s at least partially responsible for shepherding into the mainstream. The juiciest tidbit for fans and creators alike was the revelation that Subbable, the video subscription start-up founded by Hank and his brother John Green, had been acquired by Patreon, the San Francisco based fan-funding platform that’s been gaining traction with indie creators on YouTube and beyond.
The two services provide similar, and in many ways complimentary services. Each provides fans with a way to support creators they love with cash pledges. Unlike crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, Patreon and Subbable allow fans to subscribe to creators in exchange for early or exclusive content. Rather than a lump-sum donation to a particular project users commit a fixed amount of money to be paid to the creator each time they release a new video.
Subbable and Patreon are both part of a generation of platforms and tools aimed at helping creators earn a living with content without being entirely dependent on Google’s sometimes fickle revenue sharing partner program. Users can pledge (Patreon) or donate (Subbable) to specific creators in exchange for specific perks and rewards. Pledges and commitments allow creators to better anticipate their income, giving them more stability than they would have and making them less reliant not just on YouTube but on brand deals which many fans actively dislike. Creators like GCP Grey have experimented with releasing their videos via iTunes in exchange for actual cash and even YouTube has stepped in with its controversial tip-jar feature to allow fans to directly put money in creators’ pockets.
Fan reaction to the merger was mixed, to say the least. While some applauded the move as a way to strengthen Subbable’s mission of making the creator lifestyle a stable and affordable one, others were concerned that joining with Patreon would cost the service its independent Nerdfighter spirit. What isn’t in dispute is how lucrative the fan funding industry can be. Forbes projects that the two companies are on track to raise more than $25 million from fans this year alone, more than double what they did last year. Patreon already has a roster of over 10,000 creators including fan favorites like Pentatonix. Subbable counts Nerdfighter mainstays like CrashCourse, Minute Earth, and G.C.P. Grey among its users.
According to Hank’s AMA, which was helpfully attended by a rep from Patreon, Subbable will continue to function as normal until August 1st, at which point it will be formally integrated into Patreon. Users who aren’t on board for the transition are encouraged to clear the banks and get what perks they can before that happens. Everyone else will see their Subbable accounts converted to Patreon by the end of the summer.
How do you feel about the Subbable/Patreon merger? Tell us in the comments.