Flattr has traditionally been an online tip jar with a twist: You pay into an account first, and then decide who gets the money later.
On Monday, Flattr announced a big change to this approach that weaves it into the Internet where it belongs. You can now connect a Flattr account to a growing number of services in order to donate money automatically to recording artists and other people. Essentially, it weaves optional payment into the Web 2.0 fabric, so that anyone who feels it’s important to pay for music or anything else that can be gotten for free can do so free of any avoidable friction.
“Just as Kickstarter revolutionized the way we pay creators before something is created, we’ve now made it easy and natural to support and back someone after and because of what they’ve already created – right when its being consumed,” reads the statement. This is a great way to think about Flattr: It’s like Kickstarter, but for after something is made, instead of before.
Realistically, “tipping” is not the solution to all that bedevils post-millennial recording artists and other creative types who feel shortchanged online. It’s simple: Most people don’t pay for free stuff.
However, if, perchance, you want to grab everything you can online without paying a cent through traditional channels, but still want to compensate people — even the ones whose only creations might have been a few hilarious tweets — and you don’t want any middlemen getting a piece of the loot, now, you can do it.
The following services are supported by the new Flattr. Every time you Favorite, Like, or Star something on these services, its creator will receive a slice of whatever money you’ve added to your Flattr account:
What about Facebook and YouTube? According to what a Flattr spokesman told Evolver.fm, those are only a matter of time, and plenty of other services will be added too.
Downloading music without paying for it is not stealing; it’s technically just infringement. Listening to music on YouTube or SoundCloud all day isn’t even infringement, although it pays artists either nothing or much less than they would if you purchased something.
Flattr is like the conscience of the Internet. Now, it’s also compatible with it.
If you want to turn your Favorites, Likes, and Stars into cash for creators, here are the official instructions Flattr sent over:
1. Create an account (or existing users are already setup) and choose a monthly budget on Flattr.com.
2. Connect to services you already use such as Twitter, Instagram, Flickr or others.
3. Give a “Like”, “favorite” or “star” in order to show support for and flattr the respective creators.
4. Flattr will divide your monthly budget into equal parts based on the number of clicks (Likes, favorites and stars) throughout the month.
5. Creators (your favorite tweeters, Instagram users, Flickr accounts, etc.) get money.
Update: Flattr has issued an infographic explaining how this works: