You’ve probably noticed an increase in YouTube channels sporting a new “Join” button next to the “Subscribe” button. Clicking “Join” gives you the option to become a member by paying a recurring amount every month to the channel’s creator(s). But is paying this monthly fee to a YouTube channel worth it?
YouTube channel memberships give creators the option to add a monthly subscription option (different from channel subscriptions, though, as we explain below) to their page and individual videos that would allow fans to give them money every month. In exchange, you’ll get bonuses like emojis, badges, and exclusive content (plus the knowledge that you’re helping out a wonderful creator).
The feature was first introduced to YouTube in 2018. It’s similar to sites like Patreon, Ko-fi, and feels like a combination of them and the subscription option offered on popular streaming platform Twitch. Not all channels are eligible to offer membership subscriptions, however, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.
Admittedly, YouTube could have done a better job naming these two features, as it feels a little confusing, but because they weren’t introduced at the same time we’ll give ’em a pass. Subscribing to a channel lets you “follow” it, and all of its new videos are automatically added to your dedicated “Subscriptions” page. It’s an easy way to stay up to date with all of the videos from your favorite creators in a curated feed. Additionally, simply subscribing does not mean you are pledging any monthly money or accessing any members-only perks.
Memberships, as we mentioned above, are a way for you to give a little money each month to the creators you love watching and supporting. The money helps them continue to have the means to produce the videos you love, and you might even get exclusive perks for becoming a member. You don’t have to subscribe to a page to pledge a membership, but it does make sense to do both if you’re a big fan.
It’s completely up to each channel how much they want to charge their members, and how many membership tiers they want to offer. Prices will vary by creator and country, but in the United States, pricing options range from $0.99 up to $99.99 per month.
Every channel also has the ability to decide what perks they want to offer with a membership subscription, as well as the tiers each of the perks can be accessed from. The most common base tier price you can expect to see is about $5; but again, there are no set rules here and plenty of creators have lower- and higher-priced base tiers. You will be charged on the same day of the month you first subscribed, which makes it a little easier to work the subscription into your monthly budget. You can also cancel your membership at any time and for any reason.
By becoming a paid channel member, you get a few small perks in return as a show of thanks for your support. Though these will vary by channel, perks like custom emojis and loyalty badges aren’t uncommon. The badges are fun, especially on pages with regular live chats, as they let other viewers see what a dedicated fan you are. In some cases, these badges can evolve over time the longer you stay a supporter.
Other perks can include exclusive merch, discounts on merch (exclusive and otherwise); your name alongside other supporters in future videos; access to members-only videos, livestreams, chats, community posts, and channel Discord servers, and more.
If there’s a channel you like that’s offering a membership option and you want to join, doing so is a cinch. You’ll click “Join” and review any additional information that pops up, like the costs and other terms. From there, if everything looks good, you’ll click “Join” again, add (or review) your payment information, double-check that the amount to be charged is agreeable, and click “Buy.”
It may take a moment for your payment to process and for your badges, emojis, or other perks to show up, but at that point, you’ll be a full-fledged payin’ member of your favorite YouTube channel proudly supporting your most beloved creators.
Channels aren’t required to offer the membership option, but if you’re interested in offering this feature to your viewers, there are a few criteria you’ll need to meet first. According to YouTube’s channel membership policy, your channel must have at least 1,000 subscribers, be a member of YouTube’s Partner Program, be located in a qualifying country, not be set as “made for kids,” not have an excess of videos deemed ineligible (say, if it’s claimed for music copyright), and the owner must be at least 18 years old.
In order to remain eligible for offering memberships, a channel will also need to continue abiding by the YouTube membership policies and guidelines. This remains true even if Google adjusts these rules.
Obviously, the main perk is some extra money each month, which is usually used to help cover the costs of making the videos you love so much, like for equipment, studio rent, or paying any other staff the channel employs. These memberships are a great way for creators to easily supplement their income, and make it easier for creators to keep doing what they do best: creating.
Otherwise, the perks pretty much just come down to a nice self-esteem boost. Each subscription is just another way for a creator to know that people enjoy the content they create and that all of the time and money they spend creating the content isn’t in vain. And at the end of the day, what’s more rewarding than that?
It’s worth noting that creators don’t get all of the money from your channel membership pledge. All creators split their revenue with YouTube; they get 70% after taxes and fees, while YouTube takes 30% and covers transaction costs and payment processing fees. Creators can also see how much money they’ve made overall in Youtube Studio by selecting “Analytics” then “Revenue.”
While creators likely appreciate support in any form it comes in, there’s probably a better way to financially support your favorite creators. If they have a Patreon, Ko-fi, or similar type of page, you can donate to them directly and they’ll receive a higher percent of the amount you give them. Ko-fi, for example, does not take a cut of any donation, no matter how small or large. Patreon, however, does, but it’s still a smaller amount than YouTube (5-12% plus payment processing fee coverage versus YouTube’s flat 30%).
Ultimately, however, it depends on what other options each individual creator offers. Some are on every social media and fundraising site known to man, while others might offer YouTube channel memberships as their only way to really connect with them. Be sure to double-check what your favorite creator has made available, though, if you want more of your money to end up in their wallet, and not that of a giant corporation.
So, are YouTube memberships worth the cost? If you really love the creator and the content they put out, we think so. While a few bucks a month isn’t a huge charge for you, it can really make the difference for a creator, especially if they have a decent amount of other supporters as well. It can help them afford better equipment, make a bigger variety of content, and do more for amazing fans like you. That’s a good deal if we’ve ever seen one!