Last week, VidCon co-founder and web video veteran Hank Green published an “open letter” to YouTube, which essentially decried the ad-supported model of producing and monetizing online video content. In the video, Green said he understood why YouTube wanted to create a structure that is “familiar with ad agencies and Hollywood, because that’s where the easy money is.” This meant that creators were pressured to generate large numbers of views in order to continue funding their channels and content. This, according to Green, is a strange way to define success, because it prohibits creators from doing more interesting things with online video content.
Now, Hank and his brother John Green, have launched Subbable, in an attempt to subvert YouTube’s reliance on viral hits by allowing fans of creators to subscribe to their favorite creators’ projects. The idea is that this will allow creators to fund production of content without having to rely on videos going viral (and the irregular flow of advertising dollars this causes).
“An advertising-driven internet can only ever care about how many people see something, not about how much those people care about it, or how much they benefit from it,” Hank Green says in the intro video. With Subbable, creators would ideally not have to worry about that and continue doing what they enjoy on YouTube.
So what exactly is Subbable? The subscription service is very similar to the Kickstarter model. Each Subbable project, whether it’s a web series or some other content-related project, has its own page on Subbable. A meter shows how far away the project is from receiving the funding to continue production. Fans can subscribe to these projects and have the ability to redeem accumulated subscription fees (in what Subbable is calling their “perk bank”) for bonus perks like merchandise or acknowledgement in a video. For example: if you subscribe to Hank and John Green’s education-focused web series “Crash Course” (which Subbable is launching with) for $10 a month, you will be able to redeem a $60 prize for free after having subscribed to the series for six months.
There is no minimum or maximum for how much you can subscribe for. Subbable says the average subscription rate will probably be somewhere around $5.
In terms of revenue sharing, 5% will go to maintaining servers and internal costs, while another 5% goes to Amazon for payment processing. The rest will go to the creators.
In his open letter, Hank Green had said that the most vital asset creators have is their relationship with the audience. With Subbable, the Green brothers want to help creators tap into that relationship, without having to worry about external parties getting in the way.
Will it work? Well, YouTubers have proven to be quite adept at building strong relationships with their fans and, in some cases, using those relationships to fund their projects. Just take a look at how FreddieW and company were able to raise over $800,000 for the new season of “Video Game High School.” And with VidCon right around the corner, you can bet that Subbable will get a lot of promotion during the conference. So yeah, you can say it has a shot.