Patreon isn’t sure this whole crypto and NFT thing is viable long-term, but it is looking closely at the “fundamental technological components” behind digital collectibles as a potential way for its users to earn more revenue.
Speaking at The Information’s 2021 Creator Economy Summit, Patreon chief product officer Julian Gutman (who’s quoted above) said it’s “unclear” if NFTs are “sustainable across the entire creator economy.”
That being said, though, “There’s clearly enormous innovation happening in the crypto and NFT space,” Gutman explained, per TechCrunch. “Obviously there’s the art market and precious goods market that we’re seeing, with crazy pricing, evolve.”
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Because of the boom, Patreon is “certainly interested in evaluating and understanding how NFTs or some of the underlying technologies help us create that sustainable long-term earnings for creators,” Gutman said. “But I think for us, really thinking through how we’re continuing to ensure we’re creating a sustainable recurring future for creators is why we’re evaluating the crypto space more broadly.”
Basically, Patreon isn’t going whole hog and making things all about NFTs like some platforms (cough, Twitter), but it is watching to see what sectors of the crypto collectible market might benefit its users (and in turn benefit it).
Patreon’s now letting creators offer social tokens as incentive to support them
One sector Patreon just tentatively embraced is creator coins. Also broadly called social tokens, creator coins are individual cryptocurrencies tied to the popularity of specific people. Buying creator coins is essentially the same as buying currencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin, but instead of betting on the market going to the moon, you’re betting on the creator becoming more popular. More popularity theoretically equals a higher creator coin value.
Up until the beginning of October, Patreon’s terms of service broadly banned creators from offering any crypto-related item as a reward for subscribers. But sometime this month, it changed its community guidelines to allow users to give away creator coins.
The new community guidelines page says that creators can give away coins minted through other companies (like BitClout or Rally), but that Patreon “is not the developer, issuer, or distributor of the coins, and cannot change the supply of the coins.”
Creators can use their coins to “unlock special perks for patrons like exclusive merchandise, passes to a show or livestream, access to an exclusive Discord community, and more,” the new terms suggest.
During Patreon’s latest Creator Policy Engagement Program livestream earlier this month, the platform’s head of policy, Laurent Crenshaw, said creators have requested the ability to offer social tokens.
“[W]e’ve heard from a number of creators who have been interested in the opportunity to offer exclusive memberships and benefits to their patrons through a coin or token, a digital item that they can hold on to that shows that they are part of your fan club,” Crenshaw said. “And so we thought that at the very least, we could explore the opportunity of making that type of offering allowable under our guidelines.”