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Plugins: Buy vs. Subscribe?

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I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on Buying vs Subscribing.  More and more software companies across all industries are moving to the subscription model.  Adobe pushes subscriptions, Microsoft does... the monthly reoccurring revenue is great for them.  For some companies it seems like a better deal to subscribe to subscribe.  With some companies a 1 year subscription is less than the cost of buying 1 plugins. 

My hesitation is 2 big things:  

1. I'd rather spend the money now than have a commitment to pay for something every month. However, if I get access to more plugins and it costs less should I re-think this?

2. If I go back to an old project, I don't want to have to re-mix because I no longer own the plugin (or subscribe to it).  I rarely re-open "finished" projects... so should I really be concerned about this?

What do you do?

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I'll comment, just 'cause I was recently thinking about this myself.

On the one hand, as with any kind of market, if enough providers adopt the same strategy (e.g. subscription), we'll probably all more or less have to go along with it irrespective of our own preferences.

That said, having one's projects dependent on an ongoing subscription in order to keep functioning doesn't seem ideal. Obviously there are other things that can happen, like a plugin no longer being updated, but a subscription is another level of dependency.

Subscriptions can certainly be a good deal. I was looking at Antares (which I don't have currently), and indeed you do get a lot of functionality for the subscription cost. On the other hand, industry standard or not, there are some things about Antares' products that seem a bit dubious to me, and there's a lot of overlap between the different products in the bundle.

Another factor is whether subscription payments are counted towards a perpetual license. As far as I know that's the case with Vital, for example. Not sure about Antares, but I didn't get the impression that its subscription works that way. If subscription payments count towards a full purchase, then I wouldn't consider it too objectionable because if you decide you want to commit and not be dependent on the subscription anymore, you can do so and not lose your investment.

In the meantime though there are still plenty of companies, like Valhalla, that offer affordable quality products with perpetual licenses. At least when there's a choice available, that's probably the way I'd lean. But, it's of course all down to personal choice - a subscription might be exactly the right solution for some.

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As the publisher of a software product myself, I think a lot about "revenue streams."  Customers buy a copy of your product from you once, then expect unlimited support and updates forever.  (Which is reasonable, if you sold it to them that way.) But, that costs money, and where does that money come from?  You can offset this by "new versions and releases at deeply discounted prices," but not everyone buys one.

Personally, I'd prefer to initially "buy" the product, then pay by subscription for "support."  This is actually how "IBM = Income By the Month" has always done it.

In other words: when you initially "buy the product," your license is perpetual.  However, subsequent updates and tantalizing goodies are only available to "subscribers."  The subscription price should be low enough that nobody really minds paying it, but in the aggregate, for the provider, it makes a difference because "the money keeps dribbling in."

Importantly in this case: the revenue model has to conform to the customer's needs.  For example, a customer cannot reasonably accept to be "cut off from his project" if he didn't pay your bill. (If only because he can't pay your bill if he's cut off from his project!) 😀  Yes, your company's needs are important, but your customers' needs and perspectives must always come first.  You must find the common ground. The arrangement must work for both parties.

Edited by MikeRobinson
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  • 2 weeks later...

My 5c worth:

if you own the product you know you can always (usually) use it. An aside hear I have two products that changed their ‘support’ in such a fashion as to be no longer able to be used - suffice to say I won’t ever buy another product that relies on a dongle or phoning home to authorise every usage. That lesson cost me about $1500.

if you subscribe and yes your giving someone an income stream which may help support it but what if they go out of business or just cease offering the product you’ve subscribed to?

@MikeRobinsonhas a good point but I would ask ‘What about bugs?’ Are you only ‘entitled’ to bug fixes if your paying for support if you bought a program that says it will do X shouldn’t you be entitled to receive a program that does X and if it doesn’t shouldn’t the vendor be under an obligation to remedy that?

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I realy don't like subscribtion systems. At all.

I prefer to own things. I own my cars, my dishwasher, my books, my house, my computers. I want to own my softwares.

And I've to much subscribtions, telephoneS/internet, electricity, water, insurances...

I don't want to be dependent of a "softwarelord" for doing my music.

I'm an old fashioned grumpy old cat.

And I've just canceled my sat TV subscribtion.


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