Discord just launched server subscriptions, a new feature that allows creators to charge users for special access and perks within a server. The new feature has been rumored for some time and first launched in a small, private pilot program late last year.
The feature is a big step forward in creator monetization and another huge potential revenue opportunity for Discord. Prior to releasing server subscriptions, the only money that really changed hands around Discord involved paying for Nitro (a premium version of Discord that allows bigger file uploads and better streaming) or "boosting" a server to unlock more community-wide features.
Limits On Discord Server Subscriptions
There are a few important things before even considering whether or not server subscriptions are an option for you and your community. First, your server has to be based in the United States. Sorry, international creators. But if we had to guess, we'd bet Discord is looking to expand this new feature beyond the U.S. pretty soon.
Second, you need to be on the up-and-up and with Discord's Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. If you're running a regular server around something like a Twitch livestream, band, or general topic, you're probably fine. Things like adult-only content must be behind age-restricted channels. In some cases, you may accidentally violate community guidelines without knowing, like when it comes to things around posting copyrighted content.
The bigger the server, the bigger the opportunity to go afoul (or for somebody to report you, even if it's not a legitimate report). Since there's money at stake for creators now, we imagine Discord will be paying extra close attention to reports of abuse.
Oh, and you have to accept the new Discord monetization terms when you create a server subscription.
What To Offer And How Much You Make
Server subscriptions are pretty straightforward in terms of pricing and what you as a creator take home. There's a 90/10 split, meaning you keep 90 cents of every dollar and Discord takes the other 10. Oh, and there's also a "small" processing fee per subscriber, which Discord says is "for legal's sake."
As a creator, you can set subscription prices anywhere between $2.99 and $199.99 per month. Each subscription occurs monthly until canceled by the user. As of right now, there's no annual plan available. You are obligated to allow subscribers to finish out their month of subscription when they cancel.
When a user subscribes to your server, they unlock, well, whatever you think they should. The most obvious perk is access to exclusive text and voice channels. This allows you to keep everybody interacting in the same server while creating a special place for paid members.
You can also use these channels to share early or exclusive content, host audio Q&A's, and give server members an opportunity to voice their opinions. Discord is also enabling premium emojis for people with server subscriptions, if that's your kind of thing.
Who Are Discord Server Subscriptions Good For?
Cool, so you can officially get paid directly from Discord. Who is this good for? Well, that kind of depends on how big your server is and what you offer.
There's a case to be made for having too many ways to monetize your audience. After all, if you've got a Patreon, there's already a way to make private channels on Discord a perk for Patreon subscribers. It's nowhere near as seamless, but it's not that hard to do.
But a surprising number of creators still don't have some sort of way for fans to support them on a monthly basis. And Discord is one of the fastest-growing platforms for creators. So you just know there's a solid intersection of people with healthy Discord servers and no fan clubs.
We've covered other really cool apps like Bunches that have been working to essentially monetize message boards. The success of these forms of monetization is always going to come down to letting server members ultimately tell creators what they want from these kinds of subscriptions.
There's also a pretty great opportunity to monetize an entire server as a sort of knowledge base. For instance, if you're a tech YouTuber, having a monetized Discord server where you answer more specific questions for subscribers or do more in-depth tech tests may prove as a great "bottom of the funnel" for your YouTube videos.
We've talked quite a bit about why Discord is a great option for certain creators looking to build better relationships with their fans. If a creator can pull off server subscriptions without jeopardizing the overall feel of their server, it's another strong reason Discord (and community-based social messaging in general) may be one of the keys to a successful creator career.