What is all this "membership" language?

We do NOT see ourselves as a membership provider at all. We are rather dismayed to see how much Patreon is now using the term “membership” everywhere. Our supporters are patrons. Our content is free, except for the little rewards we give for the patrons. There is nothing “membership” about it and we don’t want there to be. We charge per podcast we produce, but the podcasts are free to anyone. We don’t want to start calling our patrons “members” and confuse everyone with that term. This isn’t an exclusive club, or a Netflix where someone has to join to get the content.

Also, is Patreon going to continue to support the per-creation payments? We are concerned that with this change towards “membership” there is going to be a push to get everyone to get paid per month rather than per creation. We have several specific reasons why we strongly prefer the per-creation model.

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Nothing is changing and you can use whatever language you want with your own patrons. For a lot of us, it IS a membership system and a much easier way to communicate the whole idea to our supporter base. Nobody’s forcing you to do anything. It is a fact that too many people out there don’t get the whole “patron`” thing and the evolution of the language is an effort to get more people onboard.

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It’s a little tricky because for those of us who it’s not a membership thing, it could confuse our fans. What has changed is how Patreon refers to itself. All their communications to us creators but also to the public now seem to mention membership rather than how they used to talk about it.

We do also worry that the per creation payment system will change, which would be a big problem for us . . .

What does it matter how Patreon talks to the larger public? Your fans are already with you. You address them directly. Your tiers are set and if you don’t change your language I don’t see what’s there for them to be confused about. This is your own responsibility; we all function differently and one cannot realistically expect the site to cater to 500 different creator-patron relationships. What they have to do is what is best on a site identity level.
There has not been any talk whatever of the per creation system changing so there really is no point worrying about it.

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Well, it could matter how the general public thinks about Patreon if they have ideas about what it means before they start listening to our show, and/or they try to learn more about it after we mention it and then they think it means something else. What we’re offering is nothing like a membership model so if Patreon is so strongly positioning itself that way now, that could be confusing.

“There has not been any talk whatever of the per creation system changing so there really is no point worrying about it.”

That’s actually not true. There was the whole issue a few months ago about changing the payment system in ways that would have made a per-creation model extremely problematic. Many of us per-creation creators took a big hit with losing patrons when that happened. And I just recently took a survey for Patreon where they again raised the possibility of changing to that payment system. A “membership” system strongly implies a monthly payment, which is another reason we’re not happy to be seeing that language everywhere.

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You are mistaken. The problems this created with the per-creation model were unintentional and had nothing to do with any plan of retiring that. And when the issues were pointed out, that change was dropped.

This survey was a survey, not a statement of intention. You might have noticed they asked our opinions on three different and mutually exclusive systems. Are you under the impression they’re all going to be rolled out? Besides, as far as I remember, those were creator-end membership systems.

Really? How? That’s your own narrow definition. Pay-per-creation is a form of membership. More people may understand this than you think.

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Joumana, I’m not sure why you seem so annoyed at me or my points? Perhaps I’m reading your replies in a different way than you are writing them, or perhaps you are reading mine in a different way than I’m intending them. I have had the impression that Patreon is not favoring the per-creation payment system any more, that they are finding it problematic for them and that they would prefer to retire it or to change the payment structure of it. I was not intending to debate this with other creators, as this is my impression and you have your impression, but both of us only have a certain amount of knowledge. What I was hoping for was for someone from Patreon, who has more knowledge of the situation, to weigh in on what Patreon is intending.

I’m just trying to tell you there is no foundation to your anxiety and the points you made to justify it don’t have a factual basis, but by all means let staff reiterate that for you. This is however a community forum made for creators to discuss, not a direct line to Patreon. If you don’t want to hear from other creators, just email support directly.

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It’s not really a support question. I was hoping to get some clarity on how Patreon now views itself and what its intent is in the future. And to me it does seem like my points have a factual basis. :slight_smile: They tried to change their payment system once before, and they are at least considering changing it again if they are asking about it on a survey. That’s rather different than “no foundation.” I have been thinking about this since reading your replies and every other membership I’ve ever encountered is paid for by a monthly or yearly fee. I also tend to think of certain things when I hear “membership” and those don’t reflect our use of Patreon. I just wish they would show more flexibility in their descriptions and use a variety of terms rather than settling on this one term and one description that doesn’t apply to us. As you said earlier, people are using it in different ways. Calling it a membership platform does not reflect that very well.

Hi, thanks for the thread @FutilityCloset! I really enjoyed reading the differing thoughts around this too.

You raise a good point about how Patreon is used in so many different ways by so many creators. We at Patreon use membership language because we believe that creators are creating an ongoing relationship with their patrons. We call it membership to distinguish it as something of value - not just a tip jar or donation, which is how some people see and use Patreon. That’s totally fine and we love seeing the language creators use to describe their Patreon page and their community - you do you.

I think what would be really valuable for the team at Patreon is to understand how are you using the per-creation payment model. Would you be willing to speak to our user researchers in more depth about this when the time is right? You mention several specific reasons and the team would love to dive into those with you.

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Just for the record, on my campaign it would be appropriate to call it either a membership or subscription. In my first e-mail to a new patron, I say “Your _______ is activated!”. I guess I could say “your patronage” but that doesn’t seem quite right.

Anyway, I understand that other campaigns work differently, just want to put another view out there.

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Mindy, I absolutely would like to talk to the user researchers about why the per-creation model is important to us. It would be a real problem for us to lose that payment option and if it would help for me to explain in more detail why that would be, then I’m happy to explain it. :slight_smile:

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Ammulder, we just thank them for their support. :slight_smile: The patron/patronage model works really well for what we’re doing, and maybe part of that is because we charge per-creation. Also, because we give our main content away for free, but say that it is made possible by our patrons. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense, in my opinion, to give away free content and say it’s made possible by our subscribers or members.

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I’m actually fascinated by the switch to more use of ‘membership business’ and similar language, and cautiously optimistic because it would seem to be leading toward a more explicable framework. Managing patron expectations is difficult, because they can’t really fit ‘patronage’ into an existing business model easily. “Be my patron” feels nebulous and difficult to define. “Subscribe and receive cool stuff” is something easier to understand and judge the value of.

The money we get comes out of people’s ‘luxury/entertainment/extra goodies’ budget. Any tool I can use to help them decide to continue allocating some of that budget to me is a good thing… and ‘this tip jar is just something I throw money at when I feel like it’ is a lot more vulnerable to attrition than ‘this membership I’m subscribed to gives me cool stuff every week’ when that budget needs to be pared down.

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Agree, and it also sounds more professional and reliable. You’re no longer asking for spare money, a model in which neither party owes the other anything, you’re offering a service, and that’s a mutual contract. For instance, the major obstacle to my use of Patreon has been that the “be a patron” or “support my work” language is totally incompatible with my professional image as an established artist (even though that doesn’t mean financial security) and would undermine my credibility. I can’t price artwork in the 4 figures and ask people to “support me” with $2 a month. It’s ludicrous. But I can sell that as a subscription or membership to content that is otherwise not meant to be released. I’m still working out how to best frame it for myself, but I agree that this is leading towards something more helpful. Most people, even young professionals, still live mostly offline and just can’t be tempted into an online payment system by nebulous language.

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I actually feel that calling people a patron or supporter is a more meaningful relationship. I am a member of things that I have very little feeling toward or relationship with. You can be a member of Costco for example, or Amazon Prime, with very little feelings towards those, and willing to drop them for the smallest reason. Likewise with subscriptions. I feel that if I am a patron or supporter, then I have a real feeling toward something.

We never went for the tip jar thing, and I wasn’t really aware that people were really thinking of it like that. We’ve always told our fans that Patreon is what supports our work, and we can’t continue to do the work without our patrons, and that is the message I’ve seen for the other campaigns I’m aware of.

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I do not love the membership language—for me, and what I do. I can see the benefit of it for different types of creators. I hope that it will be an optional thing, because I am definitely not offering membership. I’m asking for support of the variety of free goodness I put out into the world.

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Right, lisavollrath, that’s been our concern too. It makes a lot of sense for some creators and how they are using Patreon, but makes little sense for others. I was concerned because Patreon seems to be using it so consistently now, and it felt to me like it was pushing out creators like us.

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I absolutely agree in that I hope it’s optional how we word things on our Patreon. I continue to refer to it as a patronage system and not a membership platform, though I see how some creators might benefit from membership wording and I think that’s entirely up to them to present it that way just as I refer to mine the way best works for me.

At one of the Patreon conferences there was discussion of what motivates fans to pledge: those that are pledging to get a thing and those who are pledging to support the artist. Membership language speaks to those looking for extrinsic rewards, whereas patron language draws in those wanting intrinsic rewards. Neither is better or more valid, but for me, my supporters are patrons and the type of supporter I want are patrons. Granted, there are more people in the world extrinsically motivated, but I don’t want to be a one-woman factory fulfilling rewards. I’m in the business of art to make MY art and my patrons know that their pledges are buying me the supplies, resources, time, and opportunities to make MY art, not rewards.

I just want the option to use the wording that best suits what I’m doing on my Patreon.

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The membership language bothers me as well. Being a classics major, and artist, it was the singular notion of patrons and patronage that attracted me to the platform inthe first place.

Talk of membership and subscriptions reminds me of those old ads in kids magazines - send 50 cents with your name and address and you too can be part of the xyz club… free stickers while stocks last!

I know that for me, personally, this was exactly the sort of aesthetic I have been avoiding.

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