Patreon, a platform that lets artists and creators deliver content to fans for a set monthly subscription fee, gets a formidable foe: Facebook.
Only, Facebook’s policies is a far cry from Patreon in that it demands a larger cut of the total profits. At 30 percent cut of fan subscriptions as opposed to Patreon’s 5 percent, Facebook drives a hard bargain with creators.
A policy document obtained by TechCrunch, reveals that apart from the cut, Facebook also retains the right to offer free trials that won’t compensate creators. In addition, it can offer discounts that content creators will shoulder. Worse yet, Facebook also demands a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to use content made by creators. This license in question “survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions.”
For now, content creators get to enjoy the entire profits from subscription fees. However, Facebook plans to implement the 30/70 cut once the feature formally launches. To be fair to Facebook, a cut that large isn’t uncommon and is, in fact, standard for an app in Apple’s or Google’s digital stores. For a creator-focused platform, however, it’s a very sizable slice.
The cut alone is drawing criticism, but what creators consider particularly controversial is Facebook’s requirement to grant the company the license to use content virtually in any way it pleases — regardless if that creator stops using the service. Matt Saincome, the founder of the satirical website The Hard Times, predicts that Facebook will use that license to lure in publishers, then raise its cut and take advantage of their content.
Exactly when Facebook plans to officially roll out Fan Subscriptions remains unclear. However, a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge that the number of creators testing the service is, as of writing, in the “low thousands.” They added that the revenue split will be in line with standard industry practices.
At the end of the day, it will be up to creators to decide whether handing over a broad license for their content and 30 percent of the total revenue from fan subscriptions is worth it. As purely a platform alone, Facebook is unbeatable in the space with over 2 billion users. Creators must decide whether that is a reason enough for them to risk building a following somewhere they have little control, not to mention the fact that Facebook’s main focus when it comes to business lies elsewhere.