Subbable lets users directly support online creators – through monthly subscriptions

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Being an online creator is tough work, especially on large platforms such as YouTube. Advertising inherently favours those who can attract audiences, not those who produce quality content that may not get views. That’s all about to change, however, with the launch of a brand new voluntary subscription service Subbable.

Started by the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green, the new service is sort of a mixture of Kickstarter and YouTube’s own subscription service. Both started the service to address the problem with the existing advertising system, which has affected several projects such as educational channels Crash Course and The Brain Scoop.

“We saw that many content creators were underserved by the existing advertising system,” the Subbable team said in an email to us.

“Aside from the failure on the part of ad companies to recognise the value of the content being produced by community-oriented creators, we wanted to shift the focus from connecting creators to advertisers to connecting the creators to the communities that enjoy and truly understand their content.”

“We saw that many content creators were underserved by the existing advertising system”

Users are asked to pay a monthly subscription (the cost is entirely up to the user), which adds up in a perk bank to claim certain perks (a la Kickstarter). For instance, you pay $5 a month for ten months means you have $50 in your perk bank. You can use that to claim a perk that is $50. 

However, subscriptions are voluntary. You will still be able to watch your favourite shows on YouTube for free – however, it does mean that it could no longer exist without some support. Subbable said the reason why they are not locking it behind a paywall was because they didn’t want to “create a barrier between people and the stuff they like.”

“We often refer to as the Zambian teenager problem. A Zambian teenager might not have the money to become a paid subscriber straight away, but she can still watch our education videos at CrashCourse for free.”

“If she can access extra Science teaching she got from CrashCourse Chemistry, she’ll be better equipped to enter the workforce, become very successful, earn lots of money, and then become a paid subscriber through Subbable, enabling other people to watch the series for free.”

And despite the comparisons to YouTube’s subscription service, Subbable says they are not trying to compete with the video-sharing site.

“We love YouTube and we’re not trying to compete with it, but some creators are yearning for the direct connection with their audiences and we hope to provide that,” they said.

Currently, the only project right now that is available on Subbable is Crash Course. However, several leading YouTube creators like CGPGrey and WheezyWaiter will also add their channels to the service in the coming weeks.

However, Subbable is not just for YouTube channels – it is open to all online content such as blogs, podcasts and online comics.

“There’s a lot of underfunded stuff out there with passionate audiences,” said the Subbable team. “We’re starting in online video because that’s the world we know, but we hope Subbable will be a good fit for many creators. Regardless of genre, we’re looking to work with creators who have close relationship with their communities and are underserved by an ad-driven Internet.”

For all revenue produced, Subbable will take a five percent cut in order to pay for server costs, with another five percent taken from Amazon. The rest – 90 percent – goes straight to the online creators.

Online creators interested in participating should go to their Apply page. Do note, they individually approve applications – so don’t expect a quick response.