While the unavoidable wave of decentralised hype may result in 2021 going down as the Year of the NFT, it would be fair to say that another enormous shift this year was seen in artists building (and fans supporting) a robust portfolio of alternative, direct-to-fan income streams: receiving tips on livestreams, setting up monthly subscriptions, controlling their own merch sales, or creating new income from parallel creative endeavours, and so on.
Today brings clutch of small but meaningful developments to this ecosystem.
Meta/Facebook’s “Stars” are virtual purchasable gifts that fans can use to show support for their favourite artists or creators during Facebook livestreams or videos. Normally, they’re bought within the app, which means payment (and deduction of 30% in fees) through Apple or Google’s systems – something that is infuriating platforms that operate in this system, as recent legal rumblings are making increasingly clear. So, the new Stars Store is Facebook’s solution: a website where people can use Facebook Pay to buy more Stars for less than in the app – $9.99 buys 530 stars plus 300 bonus stars.
Meanwhile, Discord has a new Premium Memberships which let creators monetise their servers, reports The Verge. Fans/community members will be able to directly subscribe to Discord servers that activate this feature. Artists and artist communities are increasingly finding a home on Discord, enjoying the closed and supportive social community it encourages (as discussed in our recent sandbox Guide to the platform). Discord server owners will be able to offer tiered memberships that allow enhanced features and increased access to members who pay more. Creators keep 90% of all income generated, with Discord keeping the remaining 10% – and at the moment, Discord is only activating the feature on its desktop and browser clients, possibly to avoid giving up the larger fees that would be experienced in a mobile app.
Finally, “youth-driven” music streaming service Audiomack has launched a new “supporters” feature, where fans can purchase “support badges”, priced at various amounts from $1.99 to $249.99. Fans are then permanently associated with that artist’s release, and given a virtual trophy to show off their support. Artists can then segment fans that have supported them, and direct-message them exclusive content and offers. It “creates a new revenue stream for artists and an exclusive connection between creators and fans,” says Audiomack, which reported 17 million monthly active users earlier this year. Creators keep “85% of Supporters revenue, after app store and payment processing fees” – on a browser, that means a 3.3% + $.30 payment processing fee, and on mobile it’s a 30% app store fee.