The Problem with Patronage Platforms

In the last several years, many major patronage platforms have been in the news- several years ago for its innovative creator-centric platforms and more recently, due to the frustration from those same creators. These platforms started out with the best of intentions- to create a space where creators have control of their content and can solicit donations directly from their supporters as well as build mini-communities within their channel.

But, as Brent Knepper of The Outline points out: despite the revolutionary rhetoric, the success stories, and the goodwill that these platforms have generated, the numbers tell a different story.

While most patronage business models’ ideology is noble, their policies and method of delivery have cause some major problems. These problems mainly lie in the fact that creators are not only limited in the way in which they can set up incentive programs, but also in the ways that supporters are getting the somewhat shaft end of the deal.

The main problem with the majority of these platforms is that they are still centralized, meaning the platform itself is still in charge of taking a cut of pay, the amount and method in which it was collected being a recent point of contention. In fact, it is reported that even on the most popular patronage style platforms, the creator makes less than $100 a month. Additionally, most platforms only allows creators to make money by fans paying for exclusive content. These same platforms also does little to promote its creators or facilitate community building.

On the surface, these platforms’ biggest problems appear to be for their creators, but fans have expressed numerous frustrations as well. Brian Mengus of Gizmodo points out that many patrons fund multiple creators, leading to a splattering of credit card charges across a billing cycle.

Viewly aims to rectify these problems by decentralizing the payment and content-sharing system as well as automating many processes, taking only a small symbolic cut from the creators. Furthermore, Viewly allows creators to develop their own system for incentives and rewards and doesn’t limit them to just asking fans to pay for exclusive content. One of Viewly’s core beliefs is to promote creators both within the Viewly community as well as outside of it in the mainstream media. Unlike any other platform, Viewly also has a number of mechanisms in which fans can be rewarded for finding or sharing quality content as well as fan contests and promotions. Viewly has also embraced a token system in which fans purchase tokens in bulk and then allocate them as they wish, leaving the mess of credit cards charges and fees behind.

While most patronage platforms’ intentions are good, they find themselves struggling to balance the needs of their creators with a centralized platform.