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Twitter will let media publishers charge per article starting in May

Twitter will let media publishers charge per article starting in May

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Elon Musk calls it a ‘win-win for both media orgs and the public.’ We’ll see.

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An image of Elon Musk on a background with a repeating pattern of folded dollar bills
Keep media companies paid while regularly antagonizing them is definitely a strategy.
Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images

Full-time Twitter CEO and part-time Tesla enthusiast Elon Musk said on Saturday that users of his social media platform will be able to avoid media subscriptions and pay per article starting “next month.” Musk says that Twitter’s forthcoming “one-click” service “should be a major win-win for both media orgs & the public” by allowing media companies to charge a higher per article price to readers who wouldn’t necessarily pay a full subscription rate.

Musk didn’t say what percentage Twitter would pocket for itself or what conditions media publishers would need to abide by.

As with all Musk timelines, it’s best to take the “next month” estimate as an absolute best case scenario for the arrival of Twitter’s pay-as-you go micro-transaction service. But I don’t doubt Musk’s urgency. Twitter is in a race to grow revenue even as it alienates long-time users and antagonizes media organizations — both of whom are actively testing waters elsewhere. The latest Twitter alternative du jour is Bluesky, which recently added Twitter royalty Darth, Dril, and AOC to its ranks. 

Twitter’s pay-per-article announcement comes at a time when Musk is attempting to lure creators to the beleaguered platform. In addition to courting individual podcast creators directly, Musk is also urging creators worldwide to begin monetizing their content with Twitter Subscriptions (previously known as Super Follows) with a promise that “Twitter will keep none of the money” for the first 12 months. 

Musk is desperate to add new monetized eyeballs and other revenue sources to pay off debt, while valuing the company at less than half of what he paid for it. Twitter Blue subscriptions aren’t doing well enough to offset the loss of advertisers who have reportedly fled the platform since Musk’s takeover. The company has also introduced a new fee structure for API access that could cost some enterprises as much as $42,000 per month for what was previously free.