In this project we explore innovative online revenue models for creators such as journalists, artists and creators of online content. We look in particular at the revenue model of 'micro-subscriptions' (micro-subscriptions). Microsubscriptions can take different forms, but we have not yet come across an open and honest variant.
The idea of microsubscriptions is that you structurally pay a small amount to individual creatives or to a group of makers that joins forces. Think of collectives of independent artists, cultural organizations, independent broadcasters or a collective of writers that matches your interests. The organizations in such 'content collective' all receive a small part of the amount that you pay monthly via a subscription. With such collectives you can potentially reach a larger audience and ensure a structural income for makers who release work on a less frequent basis.
Microsubscriptions builds on previous research into innovative revenue models for makers. In Microdonor, we conducted research into the question whether microdonations are a suitable revenue model for open source developers and 'content creators'. Our findings from that research included that microdonations complement other revenue models, because they do not generate structural support for creators and that content collectives can provide outcomes. These and other findings can be found in the final report.
The core question of our exploration is what 'open, fair and inclusive' microsubscriptions look like, in particular for content creators. How could these content creators best organize themselves, and how do they become less dependent on Big Tech? Which assistive technology should you use for this? How long should a micro subscription run? And would you as a user want to get something in return for your subscription (as done by Patreon)? We answer these and more questions in a blog series and together with artists we design a 'wallet’.
This project fits within our mission to make the internet a public place again. Powerful platforms such as Meta and Google make the internet a place where people are exploited and manipulated. That's why we want the internet to be a place again where people can meet and exchange ideas without commercial giants spying on or influencing. In this project we are researching online revenue models that serve the independence of makers and that manage to circumvent these tech giants.
The project is funded by Grant for the Web Fund.