Patreon and Acast Collaborate to Make Private Podcast Distribution

Patreon, the world’s leading creator membership platform, and Acast, the podcasting giant, have joined forces to make patron-only podcast content available to listeners across all of the major podcast platforms.

This unique collaboration enables podcasters on Patreon to distribute private, patron-only content to their listeners’ podcast app of choice – including Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Pocket Casts, Overcast, the Acast app, and more. The integration allows podcasters to publish content via a private patron-only RSS feed, and with a plan upgrade, enables them to manage both their public and private feeds from the same place. Podcasters will also have access to data and insights about their listeners.

“At Patreon, we’re fostering an ecosystem where creators can connect more deeply with their audiences, and ultimately change the way their creativity is valued,” said Brian Keller, director of creator success at Patreon. “Patreon and Acast have a shared mission to be one of the largest creator categories on Patreon, our work with Acast makes it easier than ever for podcasters to cultivate their communities by delivering content to their most passionate fans, wherever they like to listen.”

Secure, patron-only podcast feeds

Acast’s proprietary ‘Access’ technology enables Patreon creators to supply patrons across different membership tiers with highly secure, unique, patron-only podcast feeds, reducing the risk of piracy and ensuring their patron-only content remains exclusive. Patrons are seamlessly authenticated according to their Patron membership tier, through any podcast app that supports secure RSS feeds.

Podcasters can also easily encourage fans to become patrons by directly linking to their Patreon membership directly from the public episode notes, and new patrons are seamlessly guided back into their listening experience once they’ve joined.

Advanced audience analytics

Patreon podcasters can manage both free and patron-only content across all of their different Patreon membership tiers via a single dashboard, while Acast provides creators with its industry-leading podcast analytics as the only podcast company with all four measurement standards compliant with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Patreon podcasters now have more clarity over who is listening and engaging with their content, with robust data and insights about all of their content, including listener demographics, audience growth, performance insights, listenership by podcast app, and more.

“All creators should be able to reach the audience their content deserves, and to be fairly compensated for that,” said Leandro Saucedo, chief business and strategy officer at Acast. “Alongside Patreon, we’re taking our biggest step to date in our mission to support the global creator community, helping podcasters get their content out to more people. Creators thrive in an ecosystem where they can freely create, connect with their audiences, and make a living from their work across any platform — and this collaboration is all about supporting and enabling that.”

The technology will be launched for all Patreon podcasters this month, and follows a private beta that several high-profile creators — including Sleep With Me, 90 Day Gays, and other notable podcasters — participated in over the past few months.

Patreon’s New Sales Tax Requirements Start in July

Podcasters who use Patreon should be aware of Patreon’s new sales tax requirements. The changes were announced on May 6, 2020, and will go into effect on July 1, 2020. To be clear, the sales tax changes affect the patrons of all creators, not just podcasters.

This change does not affect creators directly. Their patrons will be the ones that the new sales tax will be imposed upon.

Some patrons will see an additional line item on their receipt for sales tax starting July 1st. Since tax laws and rates vary from country to country and state to state, the amount will be different for different patrons. The money that Patreon collects as a result of these laws will be paid directly to local governments.

The sales tax changes affect patrons in some parts of the United States, and 17 other countries. Those countries include: Belarus, Iceland, India, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, and UAE.

Patrons in Quebec, Canada, are also on that list (but patrons in the rest of Canada are not). Australian patrons, who support creators in Australia, are exempt from this new sales tax. However, Australian patrons who support creators who are not in Australia will have to pay the new sales tax. In the United States, Patreon will not collect sales tax from patrons in Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Tennessee.

Patreon says it will be sending an email to patrons who are located in regions where Patreon will start charging sales tax, on June 1st. It also suggests that creators “may want to give your patrons a personal heads up before we send them an email on June 1st.” A sample post copy about the new sales tax has been provided.

On the one hand, Patreon might be legally obligated to start charging sales tax. That may not be something they can opt-out of. That said, it feels like Patreon is, once again, expecting creators to be the people who let their patrons know about the sales tax. That’s uncomfortable, especially considering that every time Patreon makes the creators be Patron’s mouthpiece, creators lose patrons.

Patreon Explains their Copyright License

If you have a Patron account for your podcast, you probably got an email from Patreon reminding you about their upcoming Creator Plans that will launch on May 7, 2019. Part of that email mentions that copyright license that creators must sign.

It is well worth taking a closer look at Patreon’s copyright license.

By posting creations on Patreon, you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, perform, publicly display or prepare derivative works of your creation. The purpose of this license is strictly limited to allow us to provide and promote memberships to your patrons. We will never try to steal your creations or use them in an exploitative way.

Patreon says that the state of copyright law requires them to receive a comprehensive license in order to host the copyrighted work of their creators. “Otherwise, our creators could sue us for copyright infringement for doing any number of normal things with their creations.”

Patreon posted details about why they require specific parts of the license:

Royalty-free: You can’t ask Patreon to pay you in the future you decide you no longer want to have your creations hosted on Patreon.

Perpetual: Once you post it on Patreon, Patreon is not legally liable if a copy of it remains in their database even after you delete it.

Irrevocable: You can’t post it, and then change your mind and ask Patreon to ‘remove it or face legal liability’.

Non-Exclusive: This is to ensure you can license it to anyone else you want to license it to.

Sublicensable: Patreon uses all kinds of third party services to host their content. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosts most of Patreon’s data. Patreon needs to be able to sublicense the right host your creations so they are protected from legal liability.

Worldwide license to use: If someone in another country loads, Patreon is not liable for copyright infringement.

Reproduce: Patreon can make copies of this in more than one place on their database.

Distribute, Perform, Publicly Display: These just cover different forms of showing your creations to patrons and internet users alike.

Prepare derivative works of your creations: If Patreon does something as simple as resizing an image, that is creating a derivative work. When running a website, there are tons of things that they do to slightly alter creations in various ways.

Patreon has New Creator Plans

Patreon has made new creator plans. The new plans are called Patreon Lite, Patreon Pro, and Patreon Premium. Podcasters who are considering using Patreon for the first time should take a close look at these plans.

Patreon Lite is rather skimpy. Patreon describes it as “simple tools to set up recurring support from your audience.”

Patreon Lite includes:

  • Hosted creator page
  • Patreon workshops
  • Patron communication tools

Patreon Pro offers everything in Patreon Lite and more. It appears to be for Creators who want “to build a thriving membership business that provides meaningful income for you and a rewarding experience for your patrons.”

Patreon Pro includes:

  • Membership tiers
  • Analytics and Insights
  • Unlimited app integrations
  • Creator-led workshops
  • Special Offer promo tool
  • Priority customer support

Patreon Premium is the top tier of Creator Plans. It offers everything in Patreon Pro and more. It is described as “dedicated coaching and support for established creators and creative businesses, plus premium features that save time and reward patrons.”

Patreon Premium includes:

  • Dedicated Partner Manager
  • Team Accounts
  • Merch for Membership

The Premium plan is for established Creators and creative businesses. It will have limited openings at launch, and will be rolled out gradually as spots become available.

Patreon Premium requires:

  • Full time creator, earning or expects to earn $2,500 a month or more on Patreon
  • Has an engaged audience of at least 100K followers on a social platform
  • Has team members that help manage your page

In addition, Patreon is changing the payment processing rates on pledges. These changes will affect future Creators. Founding Creators will have the same processing rate that they currently have.

For future Creators, there will be two payment plans:

  • For pledges of $1 to $3: 5% plus 10 cents per successful pledge
  • For pledges over $3: 2.9% plus 30 cents per successful pledge
  • For all pledges from patrons outside of the US who use PayPal, regardless of the amount: An additional 1% per successful pledge.

The payment plans are a little confusing. It is different from the December 2017 fee changes Patreon made. Patreon says that it learned that “the right way to build a sustainable Patreon is to charge creators, not their patrons.” Personally, I think these three new plans are designed to push out smaller Creators so that Patreon can make more money off of the “whales”.

Patreon Removed Creator who Engaged in Hate Speech

The New York Times reported that Patreon removed the Patreon account of Carl Benjamin for using racist language on YouTube. Carl Benjamin (who also goes by Sargon of Akkad) is a YouTuber.

According to The New York Times, the removal of Carl Benjamin’s Patreon account influenced Dave Rubin, host of The Rubin Report, and Jordan Peterson, host of Jordan B. Peterson Podcast, to leave Patreon as a protest. Sam Harris, host of Waking Up, chose to depart from Patreon. 

Patreon, as you might expect, has Patreon Community Guidelines. A portion focuses on Hate Speech. Part of that section reads:

Patreon connects creators to their platform all over the world. We are a global platform built on promoting creativity, which makes us a very inclusive group. Therefore, there is no room on Patreon for hate speech such as calling for violence, exclusion, or segregation. Hate speech includes serious attacks, or even negative generalizations, of people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or serious medical conditions.

The New York Times reported that Patreon has taken a “highly personal approach” to policing speech. Their Trust and Safety team has human moderators who investigate complaints about any content posted on Patreon and other sites like YouTube or Facebook that violate Patreon’s Community guidelines.

If a Patreon creator has broken the Community Guidelines, the Trust and Safety team reaches out to them with a specific plan. That plan usually involves asking for the content to be removed and for a public apology. In short, Patreon doesn’t use an algorithm that automatically removes the accounts of creators who break the rules.

Jacqueline Hart is the head of Patreon’s Trust and Safety team. She wrote a post on Medium that explains more details about what Carl Benjamin said on YouTube that led to his removal from Patreon.

As you may expect, the medium post includes a quote from Carl Benjamin, and contains inflammatory language. She provides a clear explanation of how Carl Benjamin’s words broke the Patreon Community guidelines. 

As a reminder, freedom of speech means that the government cannot throw you in jail because you said something it disagreed with, or because you criticized the government. Private businesses, including websites like Patreon, are not part of the government. They have the right to create community guidelines and to enforce them.

Patreon has Acquired Memberful

Patreon announced that it has acquired Memberful. It is a service for independent creators, educators, and publishers who prefer to have complete control over their membership program, including building their own website, providing customer service, and integrating with best in class third-party tools like WordPress and MailChimp.

Memberful made an announcement about the acquisition:

“Today, we’re announcing we’ve been acquired by Patreon. In Patreon, we found a team that cares deeply about the many of the same things we do. We both see a future where creators work for their audience, not for massive advertising companies as underpaid content suppliers. We both see a future where creators are free to maintain direct relationships with their audience on their terms, unencumbered by the whims of the latest social platform. We both see a future where creators can do what they love while being supported financially by their biggest fans through memberships. Patreon asked if we’d join them in building this future, and we said yes.”

What’s happening to the Memberful product? Memberful says they are now a wholly owned subsidiary of Patreon, but they are still running Memberful the same way. Patreon says the Memberful platform and brand will remain independent, the current roadmap will continue at a faster pace, and existing creators using Memberful will not experience any immediate change to the service.

Patreon states that Memberful will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Patreon, and that Memberful currently has a different pricing model than Patreon which is built around three tiers which will remain unchanged for existing customers.

The Patreon website has information that can help people figure out if Patreon or Memberful is the best choice for them.

Patreon Apologizes for Unexpected Payment Declines

Patreon has apologized for an unexpected issue that caused patron’s payments to be declined. If your podcast has a Patreon, you may have gotten an email about this issue from Patreon. If you are a patron, you may have gotten an email to inform you that your payment was declined.

On August 2, 2018, Patreon posted a tweet on their verified Twitter account. It included a screenshot that said:

Hi everyone. As you know we’re noticing an unexpectedly high number of payment declines. We’re sorry for the frustration this has caused and we’re doing all we can to help creators get paid by working with our payment partners and continuing to retry payments. Some of these issues were caused by external forces, and others by our efforts to create a stable and global platform as we grow and invest in our capabilities.

To ensure payment goes through this month, you can let your patrons know they can update their payment method to a new card, PayPal, or call their bank to confirm the charge as non-fraud.

In its next two tweets, Patreon linked to articles. The first was to an article titled “How do I update my payment information”. The next tweet included a link to an article titled: “I have declined patrons! Will you charge them again?”

As you may have guessed, there were plenty of tweets posted by angry Patreon creators in response to this problem. Some pointed out that they lost patrons as a result of this issue – which means that they are literally losing money from a problem they did not cause. One person wanted to know what Patreon will do about the creator fees taken out of declined pledges.

Other Patreon users felt it was unfair of Patreon to expect creators to ask their patrons to update their payment information. In December of 2017, Patreon announced it was adding a service fee to Patreon’s pledges, and expected creators to explain the new service fees to their patrons. (Later, Patreon announced they would not institute an automatic service fee after all.)

There is another issue that people have been commenting about on Twitter. Some patrons think they have been charged by Patreon twice, as a result of Patreon retrying payments. Others have concerns that Pateon’s effort to retry payments could result in banks and credit card companies locking accounts for fear of fraud.

Patreon Streamlined Workflow

Patreon announced a new way to manage and track what you deliver to your patrons. It allows creators to say goodbye to spreadsheets, and puts tools into Patreon that can help them keep track of fulfilling what they promised to their patrons.

Patreon asked creators how they define “success”. The answer was that many creators felt that success include three key ingredients: more time to create, deeper connections with their fans, and reliable monthly paychecks.

Now, the benefits you owe to patrons will automatically appear in a digital to-do list so you can easily keep track of all your deliverables. This will help win back the hours you used to spend in spreadsheets so you can get back to creating.

Those who use Patreon can set up the digital to-do list in minutes. The Patreon blog walks you through how to do it. In short, you start by selecting which benefits to track. Then, the next time one of your patrons qualifies for something you’re offering, a new to-do list will appear in the “Benefits” area of your sidebar.

Patreon says that the new streamlined workflow will help ensure that you delight your patrons and never keep them waiting. Running a more dependable membership business will help retain long-term patrons who trust you and look forward to the special things that you deliver them each month.

Podcasters can use the new tools on Patreon to keep track of which patron gets what and at what time. For example, if you offer a benefit to patrons that allows them to receive your podcast earlier than non-patrons, the in-Patreon spreadsheet will help you sort out which patrons to make that available to.

Patreon Acquired Kit

Patreon powers membership businesses for creators of all kinds. Kit is a community to discover, discuss, and get interesting products – grouped into kits – for activities like traveling, Djing, cooking, cycling and more. Patron has announced that they have acquired Kit.

It appears that the acquisition could result in something on Patreon that would make it easier for creators to sell physical merchandise. Exact details have yet to be revealed.

One of the most effective ways creators build a growing and sustainable membership is by selling merch. Patrons want something personalized, a physical artifact to connect them to the creator – and the more unique the better. But today, merch is unnecessarily painful for creators; we’ve talked to heaps of creators who spend time stuffing envelopes, researching the lowest prices on shipping, and take endless trips to the post office. We want to make merch easy. A simple solution empowering creators to easily add merch to their membership business, and connect deeply with their biggest fans.

Kit launched a little over two years ago with a simple idea: to help people discover the products worth getting – and create a new kind of experience where your creativity and expertise actually earn you money. Patreon says that the creators of Kit have “built a beautiful product in”.

Kit posted a blog about the acquisition, in which they state they are going to work on Merchandise, creating features that give creators a simple way to deliver their products to their members. Kit says it will continue to be available to Kit users while they transition over to Patreon.

What does this mean for podcasters who use Patreon? That’s not entirely clear, yet. The Patreon blog about the acquisition ends with: “Together with Kit, we’re going to make it simple by inventing a way to fulfill automated “merch for membership” that will help creators stop stuffing envelopes and get back to full time creation.”