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Want a Better Web? Here’s an Idea: Pay for It

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In 2009, David Pakman started “The David Pakman Show” on YouTube to talk progressive politics. Over the years, his audience grew, as did his earnings. Today he has about 365,000 followers who watch enough ads to fund his show.

At least, they did. But when YouTube started expanding protections for advertisers to keep their ads from showing up alongside controversial content, the money dried up. By the end of March, Pakman says he saw a 96 percent drop in ad revenue compared to what he was making on average during the six previous months. About a month later, things bounced back, but not by much—nowadays, Pakman makes just a little more than one-third of what he used to on his channel. (“If you’re seeing fluctuations in your revenue over the next few weeks, it may be because we’re fine tuning our ads systems to address these concerns,” a YouTube community manager post from March says. The post also gives YouTubers instructions on how to submit an appeal to YouTube if they think their videos lost ad revenue by mistake.)

But there could be another way. When Pakman saw his first big drop in revenue, he set up a crowdfunding page on Patreon, which let his fans pledge a small monthly fee to support the show. Pakman said this added revenue stream helped cover the costs of paying his small staff and kept the show afloat when YouTube’s ad revenue dried up.

He’s not the only one to find a lifeline thanks to this newfangled way of supporting one of the world’s oldest business models—people paying you directly for the work that you do. This week, Patreon announced that, since launching in 2013, 1 million fans have signed on to pay internet “creators” like Pakman every month to keep on producing stuff online. That’s double the 500,000 active patrons the platform said it had last year. Patreon says it’s also doubled the number of creators on the site in the past year to 50,000. Together, they stand to make $150 million in 2017—a pretty sharp feat considering Patreon earlier this year said it had paid a total of $100 million since it was founded.

Finding new ways for enterprising creative types to make money online is great. But where Patreon and the YouTube ad debacle meet, a more existential question simmers: What’s the best way to foster a better web? Maybe fishing for more clicks and more eyeballs watching more ads isn’t the way. Patreon’s CEO doesn’t think so.

“There’s a difference between what people will consume and what they will pay for,” says Jack Conte, who co-founded the site as a way to support his own music videos on YouTube. “People consume incendiary content like candy. They’ll click on that shit all day, honestly. But will they pay ten dollars for it? Nah. People won’t open their wallets for that fleeting, emotional burst.”

In other words, the incentive structure of the free web might encourage one type of content that differs dramatically from the kind

Read More At:  https://www.wired.com/2017/05/want-better-web-heres-idea-pay/

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