Patreon (/ˈptriɒn/, /-ən/) is a membership platform based in the United States that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service. It allows creators and artists to earn a monthly income by providing exclusive rewards and perks to their subscribers, or "patrons".[2]

Patreon, Inc.
Patreon wordmark.svg
Patreon screenshot 20 January 2018.jpg
A Patreon page from January 20, 2018
Type of site
Membership platform
Available inEnglish
Created by
Key peopleJack Conte (CEO)
Alexa rankDecrease 356 (Global, October 2019) [1]
Users3 Million monthly active patrons
LaunchedMay 2013; 7 years ago (2013-05)
Current statusActive

Patreon is used by YouTube videographers, webcomic artists, writers, podcasters, musicians, adult content creators,[3] and other categories of creators who post regularly online.[4] It allows artists to receive funding directly from their fans, or patrons, on a recurring basis or per work of art.[5] The company, started by musician Jack Conte[6] and developer Sam Yam[6][7] in 2013, is based in San Francisco.[8]

Patreon charges a commission of 5 to 12 percent of creators' monthly income, in addition to payment processing fees. Memberships are billed on the first of each month.[9]


Logo used from May 2013–June 2017

Patreon was co-founded in May 2013 by Sam Yam and musician Jack Conte,[6] who was looking for a way to make a living from his YouTube videos.[10] Together with Sam Yam he developed a platform that allows 'patrons' to pay a set amount of money every time an artist creates a work of art. The company raised $2.1 million in August 2013 from a group of venture capitalists and angel investors.[11][12] In June 2014, Patreon raised a further $15 million in a series A round led by Danny Rimer of Index Ventures.[13][14] In January 2016, the company closed on a fresh round of $30 million in a series B round, led by Thrive Capital, which put the total raised for Patreon at $47.1 million.[15]

They signed up more than 125,000 "patrons" in their first 18 months.[16] In late 2014, the website announced that patrons were sending over $1,000,000 per month to the site's content creators.[17]

In March 2015, Patreon acquired Subbable, a similar voluntary subscription service created by the Green brothers, John and Hank Green, and brought over Subbable creators and contents, including CGP Grey, Destin Sandlin's Smarter Every Day, and the Green brothers' own CrashCourse and SciShow channels.[18] The merger was consequent to an expected migration of payment systems with Amazon Payments that Subbable used.

In October 2015, the site was the target of a large cyber-attack, with almost 15 gigabytes of password data, donation records, and source code taken and published. The breach exposed more than 2.3 million unique e-mail addresses and millions of private messages.[19][20] Following the attack, some patrons received extortion emails demanding Bitcoin payments in exchange for the protection of their personal information.[21][22][23]

In July 2016, Patreon sent out an email[24] to its users, announcing changes for its more adult-oriented creators. Such content creators working under the “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW) categories on Patreon were now able to accept payments through PayPal via PayPal's subsidiary Braintree. This move now allows Adult Content creators on Patreon to accept payment more easily. Prior to this change, these creators could only accept payments through credit cards.[25]

In January 2017, Patreon announced that it had sent over $100,000,000 to creators since its inception.[26]

In May 2017, Patreon announced that it had over 50,000 active creators, 1 million monthly patrons, and was on track to send over $150 million to creators in 2017.[27]

In June 2017, Patreon announced a suite of tools for creators to run membership businesses on the Patreon platform. Notable improvements included a CRM system,[clarification needed] a mobile app called Lens, and a service to set up exclusive livestreams.[28]

In October 2017, Patreon reverted its stance from 2016 on NSFW content through changes in its rules about adult content.[29]

In August 2018, Patreon announced the acquisition of Memberful, a membership services company.[30]

Business modelEdit

Patreon users are grouped by content type, such as video/films, podcast, comedy, comics, games, and education. These content creators set up a page on the Patreon website, where patrons can choose to pay a fixed amount to a creator on a monthly basis.[31] Alternatively, content creators can configure their page so that patrons pay every time the artist releases a new piece of art. A creator typically displays a goal that the ongoing revenue will go towards, and can set a maximum limit of how much they receive per month. Patrons can cancel their payment at any time. Creators typically provide membership benefits (commonly in the form of exclusive content or behind-the-scenes work) for their patrons, depending on the amount that each patron pays.[32][33]

Patrons can unlock monetary tiers that increase the content type they see from the user. A number of content creators on Patreon are also YouTubers. They are able to create content on multiple platforms, and while the YouTube videos may be available to the public, the patrons receive private content made exclusively for them in exchange for aiding the Patreon user's goal.[34] Patreon takes a 5% commission on pledges. As of May 2017, the average pledge per patron was around $12, and a new patron pledged to a creator every 5.5 seconds.[35]

As of February 2014, almost half of the artists on Patreon produce YouTube videos, while most of the rest are writers, webcomics artists, musicians, or podcasters.[36] As of December 2016, Patreon's Community Guidelines allow nudity and suggestive imagery as long as they are clearly marked, but prohibit content that may be deemed pornographic or as glorifying sexual violence.[37]

Unlike other online platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, which use trained algorithms to identify potentially inappropriate content, Patreon's trust and safety team monitors users and investigates complaints of Terms of Service violations.[38]


In July 2017, conservative pundit and YouTube personality Lauren Southern was banned from Patreon over concerns about Génération Identitaire's blocking of NGO ships in the Mediterranean, ferrying migrants to Europe off the Libyan coast. A letter she received from Patreon said she was removed for "raising funds in order to take part in activities that are likely to cause loss of life," referring to an incident in May involving Southern, and the larger Defend Europe mission in July, which she covered on YouTube. Philosopher, writer, and podcast host Sam Harris, who also received contributions from patrons on the website, objected to Patreon's approach and announced that he would be leaving the platform because of it.[39] Shortly thereafter Patreon deleted the account of It's Going Down, a left-wing news website, for allegedly doxing.[25]

In October 2017, Patreon published an expanded version of its community guidelines, triggering a backlash from some adult content creators.[40][41][42] A petition in protest at the changes gained 1,800 signatures, and drew a response from Jack Conte.[43][44]

In December 2017, Patreon announced a service fee starting on December 18, 2017, where some fees would be charged to the patrons rather than all fees being paid by the creator. This caused backlash from a number of creators, including some who saw members of their fanbase withdraw small pledges in response. Under the new payment model, a $1 pledge would have cost a patron $1.38, and a $5 pledge would have cost $5.50, representing a 38% and 10% rise respectively.[45] Due to this backlash and the loss of many pledges for creators, Patreon announced that they would not be rolling out these changes, and apologized to their users.[46]

In 2018, Patreon was accused of cracking down on ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos.[47]

In December 2018, Patreon banned activist Milo Yiannopoulos a day after he created an account as well as Right leaning American political commentator James Allsup.[48] In the same month, Patreon also banned Carl Benjamin because he used homophobic and racist slurs in a YouTube interview in February 2018.[38] Benjamin defended himself, claiming Patreon had taken his words out of context,[49] and that "the video in question should not fall under Patreon’s rules because it was on YouTube."[38]

This ban was criticized by Sam Harris and American libertarians, who have accused it of being politically motivated.[38] Furthermore, Jordan Peterson announced a plan to launch an alternative service that will be safe from political interference, and jointly announced with Dave Rubin in a January 1, 2019, video that they will be leaving Patreon by January 15, 2019, as a direct response to its treatment of Carl Benjamin.[50][51]

In June 2018, Patreon started to ban some creators producing adult content.[52] Their community guidelines already included rules for adult content such as the disallowment of drawn material depicting "bestiality, incest, sexual depiction of minors, and suggestive sexual violence," as well as pornography involving real people. These rules were not actively enforced, however, and creators often hosted these materials off-site and provided access to them in Patreon updates as external links. In March 2020, Patreon started to ban artists who draw or host adult content anime and furry art, including links to sites which host them outside of Patreon. They clarified that they only disallow content which is "sexualized depictions of minors",[53] but the age of the characters on such art are hard to determine depending on the style in which they are drawn. Patreon would later update its terms of service, allowing them to penalize artists on the platform for content posted on other media sites, even if those sites did not directly link back to Patreon. This lead to some artists starting to move to other platforms, including Pixiv Fanbox and SubscribeStar Adult.

Patreon banned comedian Owen Benjamin following alleged hate speech. Benjamin told fans to file lawsuits against Patreon, saying that this suit had a basis due to a disrupted economic relationship. Patreon launched a counter-suit against the 72 individuals suing the service and sought an injunction to dismiss the suits. The injunction was dismissed, so Patreon is expected to spend around $10,000 in court fees per suit that it cannot recover. Patreon changed its terms of service on January 1 2020 to end the conditions under which the suit occurred. The suits open the door to lawsuits by other Patreon users banned from the platform, with right-wing freelance journalist Lauren Southern preparing her own suit.[54][55]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ " Competitive Analysis, Marketing Mix and Traffic - Alexa". Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  2. ^ Conte, Jack (June 14, 2017). "Membership: The Future for Creators". PatreonHQ. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Manjoo, Farhad (March 15, 2017). "How The Internet Is Saving Culture, Not Killing It". NYTimes.
  5. ^ The California "Creating Patrons of the Arts Through Crowdfunding" Archived July 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine July 11–13, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Jack Conte interviewed on the TV show Triangulation on the network
  7. ^ Olson, Matthew (May 7, 2019). "How Patreon Has Helped And Hindered Creators, As Told By 13 Users". Digg. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  8. ^ Intro Archived March 1, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Accessed July 14, 2014
  9. ^ "Patreon - our fee structure". Patreon official website. Patreon. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  10. ^ Levitz, Dena (September 9, 2013). "Donation, Patron Services Help Fans Support Their Favorite Authors". PBS. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  11. ^ Tate, Ryan (October 22, 2013). "The Next Big Thing You Missed: 'Eternal Kickstarter' Reinvents Indie Art". Wired. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  12. ^ Luckerson, Victor (December 4, 2013). "Top 10 Exciting Startups". Time. Archived from the original on March 1, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  13. ^ Buhr, Sarah (June 23, 2014). "Patreon Raises $15 Million Series A, Revamps Site To Focus More On Content". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on August 25, 2014. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  14. ^ "Patreon Raised $15 Million". YouTube. June 23, 2014. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  15. ^ Buhr, Sarah (January 19, 2016). "Patreon Gains $30 Million Series B Funding To Support Growth". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on May 31, 2016. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  16. ^ Dredge, Stuart (March 4, 2015). "Amanda Palmer races to $13,000 per release in Patreon crowdfunding". the Guardian. Archived from the original on June 9, 2015. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  17. ^ "Creators on Patreon Receive Over 1,000,000 per Month From Patrons". October 10, 2014. Archived from the original on April 4, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  18. ^ "Patreon Acquires Subbable, Aligning the YouTube Stars". Forbes. Archived from the original on March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  19. ^ Hunt, Troy. "Pwned websites - Patreon". Have I been pwned?. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
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  24. ^ Alptraum, Lux (July 27, 2016). "Patreon Ends Payments Discrimination Against Adult Content". Motherboard. Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  25. ^ a b "The real consequences of Patreon's adult content crackdown". Engadget. Archived from the original on May 16, 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  26. ^ Conte, Jack (January 9, 2017). "Creators have made $100M on Patreon". Medium. Archived from the original on April 5, 2020. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  27. ^ Constine, Josh (May 18, 2017). "Patreon doubles in a year to 1M paying patrons and 50K creators". Techcrunch. Archived from the original on May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  28. ^ Gensler, Andy (June 14, 2017). "Patreon Launches New Tools Following Forecast of $150M In Subscriber Funding". Billboard. Archived from the original on June 14, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  29. ^ O'Donovan, Caroline (October 25, 2017). "Patreon Updated Its Rules On Adult Content, And NSFW Content Creators Are Worried". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  30. ^ Matsakis, Louise (August 8, 2018). "Patreon Makes a Move as Tech Giants Encroach on Its Territory". WIRED. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  31. ^ "How do I become a creator and make a page on Patreon?". Types of questions. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  32. ^ Pham, Alex (May 10, 2013). "Jack Conte's Patreon: Anyone Can Be a Patron of the Arts". Billboard Biz. Los Angeles. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  33. ^ Henriksen, Erik (February 7, 2014). "Portland Cartoonist Erika Moen Launches a Patreon (Also, Patreon Sounds Pretty Brilliant)". The Portland Mercury. Portland, OR. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
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  38. ^ a b c d Bowles, Nellie (December 24, 2018). "Patreon Bars Anti-Feminist for Racist Speech, Inciting Revolt". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  39. ^ Robertson, Adi (August 3, 2017). "Inside Patreon, the economic engine of Internet culture". The Verge. Archived from the original on August 4, 2017. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  40. ^ O'Donovan, Caroline. "Patreon Updated Its Rules On Adult Content, And NSFW Content Creators Are Worried". Buzzfeed. Archived from the original on October 28, 2017.
  41. ^ Kelion, Leo. "Porn-makers challenge Patreon's crowdfunding ban". Archived from the original on October 28, 2017. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  42. ^ Cole, Samantha. "Adult Content Creators Are Fighting Patreon's New Anti-Porn Rules". Archived from the original on October 28, 2017. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
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  44. ^ Conte, Jack. "A Note to Our Adult Content Creators". Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  45. ^ Alexander, Julia (December 7, 2017). "Patreon changes have creators concerned they'll lose income, supporters (update)". Polygon. Archived from the original on December 9, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  46. ^ Conte, Jack (December 13, 2017). "We messed up. We're sorry, and we're not rolling out the fees change". Patreon. Archived from the original on December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  47. ^ Wilson, Gaby (December 10, 2018). "ASMR creators want you to know it's art, not a weird sexual fetish". Vice News. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  48. ^ Mastrine, Julie (December 18, 2018). "Prominent Patreon Creators Leave Site Over Political Bias. Should Big Tech Uphold Free Speech?". AllSides. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  49. ^ "You Cannot Trust Patreon". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  50. ^ Goggin, Benjamin (December 17, 2018). "Top Patreon creators, of the 'Intellectual Dark Web,' say they're launching an alternate crowdfunding platform not 'susceptible to arbitrary censorship'". Business Insider.
  51. ^ "We Are Leaving Patreon: Dave Rubin and Jordan Peterson Announcement". The Rubin Report – via YouTube.
  52. ^ Cole, Samantha (June 28, 2018). "Patreon Is Suspending Adult Content Creators Because of Its Payment Partners". Vice.
  53. ^ Patreon [@Patreon] (March 13, 2020). "We'd like to clarify a recent rumor about our guidelines. We do not limit any specific style (like anime) of art. But our guidelines do not allow sexualized depictions of minors. If you have questions or want clarification, you can always reach our team at" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  54. ^ "Court denies Patreon injunction against fans of 'canceled' comedian". i24NEWS. August 2, 2020.
  55. ^ Goforth, Claire (July 6, 2020). "Alt-right comedian asked his fans to sue Patreon. It backfired". The Daily Dot.

External linksEdit