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The team behind Flattr, a Swedish startup that has been around since 2010, announced today that it’s letting its users connect their social media accounts to Flattr, making it easier for users to donate money to creatives.
When it first launched, Flattr acted as a sort of virtual tip jar: users put money into their accounts and could donate to writers, artists, musicians, and others by clicking a “Flattr” button. Unfortunately, few sites thought it worthwhile to add these buttons to their pages, so the service never really took off.
Today, however, the startup announced that users can connect their social media accounts directly to Flattr, making it much easier to donate cash. The company will support Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, SoundCloud, Vimeo, and others, though Facebook isn’t in the mix, just yet.
The process is simple: users choose how much they wish to donate each month, and then go about ‘Liking’ their favorite content. At the end of the month, Flattr divvies up the money equally among the creatives, after taking a 10 percent cut.
If it works as planned, Flattr (or a similar service) can fundamentally change the way creatives make money online. On the internet, content creators generally have to choose between fame or fortune, NYU professor Clay Shirky wrote back in 2003. Putting content behind even the tiniest of paywalls, he explained, turned people away from the site, meaning few people would view the material. Opening it up to everyone, on the other hand, meant that no one would actually pay for content.
Making a donation, however, is different; countless donation-based crowdfunding campaigns have shown that it can work. Flattr, in other words, can become a sort of donation crowdfunding platform that allows creatives to monetize a large online audience.
We’ll be sure to keep our eyes on Flattr in the coming months.