Discord is starting to test a new Premium Memberships feature that will allow creators to monetize their servers. An initial pilot is going live today with around 10 creators who will pave the way for Discord’s 150 million monthly active users to pay to access a range of channels or servers and support creators.
Premium Memberships offer what a number of creators have already been experimenting with: a way to offer more content or access to community members. Discord communities will be able to create tiered perks, view analytics on member engagement, and lock channels or even entire servers to paying subscribers.
“We see Discord becoming a home for more creators and communities through products like Premium Memberships,” explains Sumeet Vaidya, director of engineering at Discord, in an interview with The Verge. “By providing tools that let community creators earn money, more of them will run healthy engaged communities for longer periods of time.”
While Discord already has a number of integrations with Patreon, YouTube, Twitch, and other services that let subscribers on other platforms get special perks or privileges in Discord servers, Premium Memberships will be fully native to Discord. That means Discord also sets the terms of payments directly, and it has picked a 90 / 10 split with creators, allowing Discord communities to keep 90 percent of all revenue.
“We want to make sure that creators are able to make as much money as possible, while also making sure that if creators are successful Discord is also making some money which makes sure Discord is successful too,” says Vaidya. “This was the most favorable split we could think of, to make sure both parties are invested in the long run.”
It’s not clear how this revenue split will work if people subscribe on mobile, though. Apple and Google take a cut of subscriptions and in-app purchases like this, and right now Discord is only enabling this through its desktop and browser clients.
So what do you get if you opt for a Premium Membership to a Discord server? That’s really up to creators, and it’s something Discord is looking to its communities to help shape these memberships during this trial phase. There are already journalists, professional map makers, and other communities monetizing their Discord servers, with many using the Clubhouse-like Stage Channels audio features to provide a small and more intimate community or exclusive perks for subscribers.
It’s clear Discord saw this emerging trend and wanted to make it a lot more streamlined, native to its platform, and easier for everyone involved. While you might associate Discord subscriber-only channels with Twitch streamers or Patreon subscriptions, Discord is working with a diverse set of communities to test Premium Memberships and make them accessible for both creators and Discord users.
Premium Membership channels will have a small blue star next to them, and if you try to access them, you’ll be offered the tiers of access that creators have set. In the coming weeks you might see Discord community servers testing this new feature, and it’s something that will expand to more communities next year.
“This is one of our most-requested features from creators,” reveals Vaidya. “While it’s something that many creators already do through third parties, this is the first time they’ll be able to do it natively on Discord.”
Update, December 7th 11:15AM ET: Article updated with details about Discord testing this only on desktop and browser for now.