Patreon pilots Discord-like chatroom feature

Patreon chats displayed on 3 mobile phone screens

The fan membership platform Patreon is beginning to roll out a chat feature, connecting creators directly with their fanbase in a group message. The offering will become available to some creators today, but will spread more broadly within the coming months.

Patreon has long had an integration with Discord, which automatically adds patrons at certain membership tiers to a paywalled Discord server (so long as the patron has their Discord account linked to Patreon). This new feature isn't necessarily a Discord killer, but it achieves a similar effect of getting an entire fan community together in one place to have a more direct relationship with creators.

"Discord is amazing," Patreon CEO Jack Conte told TechCrunch. "We're going to continue to support that partnership and support that integration, and invest in it even."

Still, some creators and their communities aren't Discord savvy, and as Patreon vies to secure its dominance in the paid fan memberships world, a native group messaging feature can give creators other ways to monetize.

"Some creators will want an in-the-box solution, and they'll just want to use something simple right in the app," Conte said. "Their fans don't have to download another app. Their fans don't have to go to a different place."

Patreon's chat feature doesn't have as much functionality as Discord (which makes sense, since Discord is a whole established product, and this one feature within a larger app). At launch, creators will be able to create four different chats to start, and any of those chats can be gated to specific patron tiers. So, a cooking vlogger might have one chat for fans to exchange recipes, one chat to post pictures of food and another to discuss new uploads. On Discord, one fan community's server might have 20 to 30 channels, and while that can be fun in certain scenarios, it could also overwhelm fans who are newer to Discord.

"The thinking here is creators should have control, not Patreon," said Conte.

Fans themselves can also customize their own profiles, which show how long they've been a patron of a certain creator, what other communities they're in, and a photo, name and bio.

At the outset, moderation will be handled by the creator, with fans able to report comments. Down the line, Conte says that creators will be able to appoint moderators to help.