Discord Testing Subscription Feature Allowing Creators to Monetize Their Servers

Discord is introducing monthly subscriptions to its service, initially with a pilot program for select creators.

The subscriptions, which have been dubbed Premium Memberships, are designed to support Discord servers – digital conversation hubs that connect Discord users via audio, video or text – and the creators who lead them. Creators have the option of dividing memberships into tiers, with each tier boasting unique pricing (subscriptions can range from $2.99 to $99.99 a month) and perks. Creators will also have access to analytics to see how their memberships are performing.

Long before this announcement, which was made Tuesday, Discord creators had been figuring out ways around the lack of a subscription feature on the platform, including by tokenizing communities as well as selling access to their servers on Twitch, Patreon and YouTube. By introducing the Premium Memberships feature, Discord is making community monetization native to the platform while also sweetening its own bottom line (10% of income generated from subscriptions goes to Discord, while creators keep the remaining 90%).

The Premium Membership strategy is a clear attempt by Discord to lean into the exploding creator economy, the size of which was recently estimated by Influencer Marketing Hub at over $100 billion, with $850 million in venture capital being injected into startup investments in the space since October 2020. The sector, whose growth can partially be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, is projected to eventually reach a market size of over $1 trillion.

Several high-level music artists have already been taking advantage of Discord, including Travis Scott, whose Cactus Jack server drew over 100,000 members in its first day, and Portugal. the Man, who created an exclusive space where the group’s superfans can access Q&A sessions, never-before-seen content, new merchandise and more. Other acts who have dipped into the platform include Wyclef Jean, Liam Payne, AG Cook, 100 Gecs and Grimes, who launched an official Discord fan server in June. The platform also hosts numerous fan-run servers for artists including Billie Eilish and Twenty One Pilots.

Like so many new technologies, Discord hasn’t escaped backlash from the music industry. In August, YouTube began forcing the removal of illegal bots, including Groovy and Rythm, that allow users to stream music directly from YouTube, Spotify and other DSPs to Discord servers (Discord hasn’t yet struck licensing agreements with music companies). Because Discord has received criticism for being slow to work with the industry, the new subscription feature could be viewed as a way of smoothing over that relationship, at least in the short term.

For now, users can only subscribe to a server’s Premium Membership on Discord’s desktop or browser versions. Premium Memberships aren’t yet available on mobile.

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