YouTube is extending its channel membership benefits to include smaller creators. Engadget reports that creators with more than 50,000 subscribers will be able to offer their viewers a $4.99 monthly membership fee in exchange for exclusive perks. Previously, the feature required at least 100,000 subs.
The membership feature, which was expanded from gaming channels in June, is similar to those of Patreon or Twitch; it allows creators to earn money directly from their fans, rather than relying exclusively on ads. As demonetization issues and new policies have made it harder for smaller creators to thrive on the platform, many have turned to alternative income streams like merch sales and live performances. Even for some larger channels, income outside of ad revenue is crucial to their financial survival.