Discord is testing a new Premium Memberships feature that will allow server owners to monetize their services. An initial trial with roughly ten creators will go online today, paving the path for Discord’s 150 million monthly active users to pay to access a variety of channels or servers, as well as support creators.
Premium Memberships offer something a number of producers have already tried: a means to give community members greater content or access. Communities on Discord will be able to design tiered rewards, view member engagement data, and lock channels or even entire servers to paying subscribers.
“Through offerings like Premium Memberships, we anticipate Discord becoming a home for more creators and communities,” says Sumeet Vaidya, head of engineering at Discord, in an interview with The Verge. “By giving community creators tools to make money, more of them will be able to maintain healthy, engaged communities for longer periods of time.”
Premium Memberships will be totally local to Discord, unlike the existing connections with Patreon, YouTube, Twitch, and other services that allow subscribers on other platforms to obtain unique perks or privileges in Discord servers. That means Discord determines payment conditions on its own, and it has chosen a 90/10 split with creators, allowing Discord communities to keep 90% of all earnings.
“We want to ensure that creators are able to make as much money as possible, while also ensuring that if artists are successful, Discord is successful as well,” Vaidya explains. “This was the most beneficial split we could come up with to ensure that both sides are involved in the long run.”
However, it’s unclear how this income split will work if users subscribe via mobile. Subscriptions and in-app sales like these are taxed by Apple and Google, and Discord is now only allowing this through its desktop and browser clients.
So, what do you receive if you join a Discord server as a Premium Member? That’s all up to the developers, and Discord is counting on its users to help shape these memberships throughout the trial period. Journalists, professional map makers, and other communities are already monetizing their Discord servers, with many of them employing the Clubhouse-like Stage Channels audio facilities to give a smaller, more intimate community or exclusive rewards for customers.
It’s evident that Discord noticed this growing trend and sought to make it more streamlined, unique to its platform, and user-friendly. While you might connect Discord subscriber-only channels with Twitch streamers or Patreon memberships, Discord is testing Premium Memberships with a variety of communities in order to make them available to both creators and Discord users.
Premium Membership channels will have a small blue star beside them, and if you try to view them, you’ll be presented with the creators’ access tiers. This new functionality will be tested on Discord community servers in the next weeks, and it will be rolled out to other communities next year.
“This is one of the most frequently requested things from creators,” Vaidya says. “While many producers already do it through third-party services, this will be the first time they can do it natively on Discord.”