(Photo by Flickr user Scott Beale, used under a Creative Commons license)
Kickstarter quietly launched a competitor to Patreon last month, called Drip.
Drip is a crowdfunding platform that allows supporters to pledge a monthly donation to creators and in return get ongoing rewards in the form of regular content, sneak peeks, and more.
So far, Drip is invite-only, but will go live to the public some time in early 2018, February at the earliest, said Cassie Marketos, Kickstarter’s vice president of community strategy (and first-ever employee).
So how will it stand out from the competition and in the sustained-support crowdfunding market?
“I would never see Drip as a response to something,” Marketos told Technical.ly. “Patreon’s been great. But there are still creators who might feel Patreon doesn’t work for them. I see us as contributing, not competing.”
“What do creators need to make things that they want in the world? Subscriptions is part of that,” Marketos explained. “One-off projects make sense in some ways, but creators now need reliable sources of funding and a closer relationship between them and the people who like their work. It’s us identifying a need and working to address it.”
Among those creators who might be seeking an alternative to Patreon are those disillusioned by the four-year-old company’s recent move to add a 2.9 percent service fee, plus an additional $0.35 charge to each pledge made by a patron, regardless of the amount. Initially intended to go into effect Dec. 18, the fee was scrapped following massive backlash from both creators and patrons.
Kickstarter has raised only $15 million in external funding in total since launching in 2009 and has been profitable for a majority of its existence. This gives it flexibility that Patreon does not enjoy.
In a series of tweets that went viral, author Chris Buecheler argued that Patreon is “under intense pressure” to increase revenues by focusing on the interests of a few large creators.
Here's what I think is happening with @Patreon – this year they raised $60m in Series C venture funds at a valuation of $450 million (after raising $30m last year and more than doubling the company's size – almost always a mistake). Yet they make about $8 million per year. 1/10
— Chris Buecheler (@cwbuecheler) December 7, 2017
“It’s doing the generally same thing that Patreon does, but with more of an emphasis on small content creators,” Christopher L. Hovermale, a video game blogger, wrote in a terrifically titled blog post, “Friendship With Patreon Ended, Now Drip Is My Best Friend.” He plans, if possible to migrate over his current plans.
There is reason to believe that creators with smaller followings are being left behind in Patreon’s push for more and more revenue. “We’d rather … be made up of fewer, but truly life-changed creators rather than a lot of creators making a few dollars,” Tal Raviv, a product manager at Patreon, is quoted saying in an interview with Brian Balfour in June.
Patreon cofounder Jack Conte issued a mea culpa Dec. 13, admitting that the company failed to consult creators, wrongly dismissed the value of aggregation, and “disproportionately impacted $1–$2 patrons.”
For its part, Drip is charging subscribers a 5 percent fee on payments, plus an additional 3 percent credit card processing charge plus $0.20 per charge.
"Creators have worked their whole lives to create; we’re not going to hold that hostage."
One of the things Drip will do differently from Patreon is allow its creators to just leave. The “Payment and Content Portability” aspect of Drip makes it possible for a creator to move her content and payment/subscriber info off Kickstarter and Drip if they want to.
“We don’t want to lock people into our platform,” said Marketos. “We will accommodate moving their content and payment info. Creators have worked their whole lives to create; we’re not going to hold that hostage. It’s still beta, but something we’re committed to doing and will be working on on a case-by-case basis so far. Every platform has its own rules. It just takes time to do it thoughtfully.”
The rationale behind this, she says, is Kickstarter’s status as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), which is “a legally binding designation that the company is beholden to social good rather than stakeholder profit.”
“It really matters to people to know they’re participating in something with a mission like that,” she added
It’s clear that Kickstarter knows it has a sterling reputation in the creator community and wants to leverage this advantage. The company announced an extremely creator-friendly policy of allowing creators to transfer subscription and payments information to other subscription platforms.
In an interview for ComicsBeat, Patreon user and comics writer, Spike Trotman, explained that Patreon seemed slow to address issues with their site. He’s excited about Drip: “Kickstarter has a track record of listening and improving.”
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