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Poll: Subscription vs. Ownership


Poll: Subscription vs. Ownership?  

17 members have voted

  1. 1. Let's assume there is *zero* financial difference between the two options, so it's not about money. We'll also assume that in either case, we're dealing with a stable company that won't go away any time soon. Would you prefer:

    • A monthly subscription with regular updates and occasional goodies.
      2
    • Owning a program, with the option to pay for infrequent but comprehensive "big" updates (perhaps every year or two). Smaller updates and bug fixes would be free.
      12
    • Being able to choose one option, but switch to the other one without a penalty, if my circumstances changed.
      3
    • A subscription, but only if it had everything included, and I didn't keep running into featrures or add-ons for which I had to pay extra. I'd be willing to pay more for a subscription like that.
      0
    • If over time the cost ended up being essentially the same for the various options, I wouldn't care one way or the other
      0


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I’m not a big fan of subscriptions in general.  I just don’t like the idea of paying for something over and over again.  Makes it difficult for me to give something a value in my head. If one is forced to pay for something every month, I imagine there are people who would find that motivating as far as making sure they use it more.  Me, not so much…

 

However, in the case where there would be something I’d only use occasionally, I do see the value in having the ability to “rent” a piece of software on a per-project basis.

 

dB

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Subscription software has to be current.  The vendor isn't going to want to support end of life systems.  This means the client has way less flexibility in regards to hardware.  Hardware needs to be current enough to meet the subscription software requirements.  Sometimes there is legacy systems you need to continue to run for various reasons.  Maybe a new OSs doesn't support an old system call required for a legacy program but you need a current OS to run your subscription program..   Subscriptions just suck because they are inflexible.   New isn't always better.

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"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I understand why companies go to the subscription mode, it means constant cash flow.

 

I understand why I prefer ownership, it's my choice when and how to spend my money. Having a subscription is akin to being in debt.

 

Being a professional musician, my income is irregular. Right now I'm doing 18 gigs this month, but in the 2 years of the plague, I did zero gigs.

 

Before COVID we did a lot of work in the winter tourist season, and very little work in the summer. This year we are as busy in the summer as we usually are in the season.

 

What I don't need is a bunch of subscriptions during lean times. With outright ownership, I can choose to spend my money when times are good.

 

I subscribe to my ISP, my web host, and the shopping cart on my website. That's it.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com

Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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I'd prefer an option which is not on the list: Craig's hypothetical model where you still have a read-only version of your projects when you stop paying for a subscription.

 

A feature of subscription models which is little-discussed is the option of paying for something only when you use it. If you need DAW X a couple times a year, then rent it for those couple of months. Lots of folks do this with video streaming services - just pay five bucks for a channel, for a month, to watch one specific show. 
 

Two reasons I prefer a subscription model in general: one, as a retired software engineer, I appreciate the need by small firms for a regular, reliable income stream. If their stuff is good, I want them to succeed; a known monthly income stream helps ensure that.

 

Two: in my experience, software I subscribe to generally has a better record of support and bug fixing. There are exceptions (Logic being the huge one; Apple is  not in the software-selling business. They sell hardware by ensuring there is great software that runs on it). When a company has my money, and they aren't getting any more, they may be less likely to spend engineering cycles on bug fixes. They certainly are less motivated to implement new features if I don't have to pay for them.

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Right now, while I am adapting to "the new world", a subscription would be a PITA. 

I continue to work on a 2014 MacBook Pro running Catalina and using Waveform 10, that's pretty bullet proof and keeps on ticking. 

I'm in process of checking out Apple Logic Pro X for Monterey on my Mac Mini M1, probably 70 days left on a 90 day trial period. 

 

With ownership, I can have a foot in both worlds simultaneously and maintain function while considering transition. With a subscription you get what they offer you, more modern software but in the end, fewer options and less flexibility. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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For me the big factor is how much of the product I already own. The Reason subscription does not work for me because I already own a lot of the instruments and effects that they use to give value to the subscription. For products that I don't own at all, subscriptions are more appealing. 

 

There is a category that you left out. The one I like the most. Pay my yearly subscription and get something permanent back in return. I'm doing that with Roland Cloud and Plugin Alliance.

This post edited for speling.
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5 hours ago, RABid said:

There is a category that you left out. The one I like the most. Pay my yearly subscription and get something permanent back in return. I'm doing that with Roland Cloud and Plugin Alliance.

 

When I bought Roland's Cloud D-50, I thought I was going to have to build a small collection and as its turned out, there are not only a nice JP-8 and JP-4 in there, but most of their monosynths. It takes minimal tweedling to bring them out, so I don't feel the need for more Roland goods. I have an eclectic range of instruments as a result of (mostly) not repeating methods. I'm not much of a user of stylistic add-on packs, but I'm fascinated by M-Tron Pro's weird sets.      

"Every young person needs
  a bad older person to look up to
   and I hope I can be that person for you tonight."
         ~ John Waters, "This Filthy World"

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Why software?

Do you need a subscription for a guitar? Saxophone? Toaster oven? Refrigerator? Alarm clock?

 

Car subscriptions were the rage at one time (leasing) until the majority figured it was not practical.

 

True, software companies, like all companies, including my two companies, need income. In the past, software companies did it by regular upgrades. But how many upgrades do you need before it becomes bloatware? So I see the problem, but yet, I am not going to buy a subscription just to keep someone else's business afloat.

 

Every business would like a Chiclets item, like the gum, use it up, and need to replace it. Sadly, every product doesn't work like that.

 

The textile industry invented fashion so that people would throw away perfectly good clothes to get the latest fashion, and that kept the mills running and the money coming in. Some products are made to last only a few years, when they could be built to last forever, to keep people buying new ones. The software industry is turning to subscriptions.

 

I buy the upgrades, needed or not, for the software companies I want to keep in business. But I buy them on my terms, nobody is billing me by the month.

 

But that's just me.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com

Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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1 hour ago, Notes_Norton said:

Do you need a subscription for a guitar? Saxophone? Toaster oven? Refrigerator? Alarm clock?

There is one big difference. Buy a guitar and maintenance is limited to replacing strings, something the guitarists can do. Buy a car, there is a dozen places to get an oil change. If they widen the road you travel it does not require and upgrade to your car. Buy software and you are dependent on the computer and operating system. You are at the mercy of the computer/OS manufacturers. Any change could mean a rewrite of the software and users are not equipped to do that. Just think about what a company has to go through to keep their programs working on an Apple computer. You either pay staff to modify the program to keep up with Apple's ever moving requirements, or you let the program die.

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This post edited for speling.
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On 8/4/2022 at 8:52 AM, dmitch57 said:

I'd prefer an option which is not on the list: Craig's hypothetical model where you still have a read-only version of your projects when you stop paying for a subscription.

 

I like that option too! But since it doesn't exist, I figured it would just muddy the waters. 

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1 hour ago, RABid said:

Buy software and you are dependent on the computer and operating system. You are at the mercy of the computer/OS manufacturers. Any change could mean a rewrite of the software and users are not equipped to do that. Just think about what a company has to go through to keep their programs working on an Apple computer. You either pay staff to modify the program to keep up with Apple's ever moving requirements, or you let the program die.

 

So true. I've often said that when Apple or Microsoft sneezes, we get the flu. Part of the problem is that there are new users coming into our world, and when they buy software, it has to work with the technology that's happening now, not a system that someone froze 5 years ago.

 

With the eBooks I'm doing that have free updates, it takes a lot of effort to keep them updated. The Helix book was updated to 1.1 about three months after it was introduced because Line 6 did a software update. Version 1.3 of the Studio One Tips and Tricks book hits later this month. The Max Your Mix! eBook is being updated to v1.1 for a 4th quarter release. And so on. And those are just eBooks! Imagine if I had to test the PDFs on multiple different operating systems, using multiple different processors, all configured differently...

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Well, I currently subscribe to cell phone service, internet access, garbage pickup, television access, YouTube, HBO Max, etc... It's not like software companies were the first to dream up this scheme. Some of them may be trying to figure out how to survive in the modern world.

This post edited for speling.
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With things like Internet access, TV companies (HBO MAX, etc), I wonder what a model to buy them outright could look like. 🤔

 

Best I can come up with is something like a hardware box that authorizes these things for the life of the box…but, having friends that use those little illegal blue boxes to do that already, I can see a few potential problems with that.

 

dB

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2 hours ago, David Bryce said:

With things like Internet access, TV companies (HBO MAX, etc), I wonder what a model to buy them outright could look like. 🤔

 

I think it would likely be the Amazon Prime model - you can rent something and have one-time access to where it's stored in the cloud, or you can buy something and have unlimited access to where it's stored in the cloud.

 

3 hours ago, RABid said:

Well, I currently subscribe to cell phone service, internet access, garbage pickup, television access, YouTube, HBO Max, etc... It's not like software companies were the first to dream up this scheme. Some of them may be trying to figure out how to survive in the modern world.

 

Then there are the subscription services that aren't billed as such, like when you had to buy tape for a tape machine on a periodic basis. That was a very expensive subscription!

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17 minutes ago, Anderton said:

Then there are the subscription services that aren't billed as such, like when you had to buy tape for a tape machine on a periodic basis. That was a very expensive subscription!

 

Boy, I’ll bet… 😬

 

dB

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This is kind of OT, but related to Netflix and cable TV subscriptions. What if instead of subscribing, viewing time was metered and you got a bill? Like 10 cents/minute? Then a) with cable, you wouldn't be paying for all those crap channels you don't want, and b) for a service like Netflix, the more you watched, the more they made. 

 

Not only that, but I think viewership would increase across the board because right now, the average person is not going to subscribe to every effing streaming service. But if you didn't have to subscribe...hey! there's something on Disney+ I want to see. Or Paramount+. Or Apple, or Netflix, or whatever. Micropayments. 

 

It would also end the whole "password sharing" thing because data would come from your set top box, which is going to be unique for each household, and for some households, different rooms.

 

Streaming services could still sell "all you could eat" subscriptions, and I'm sure some people would go for that. But I bet others would be happy to pay only for the time they're watching.

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22 hours ago, RABid said:

There is one big difference. Buy a guitar and maintenance is limited to replacing strings, something the guitarists can do. Buy a car, there is a dozen places to get an oil change. If they widen the road you travel it does not require and upgrade to your car. Buy software and you are dependent on the computer and operating system. You are at the mercy of the computer/OS manufacturers. Any change could mean a rewrite of the software and users are not equipped to do that. Just think about what a company has to go through to keep their programs working on an Apple computer. You either pay staff to modify the program to keep up with Apple's ever moving requirements, or you let the program die.

One of the reasons I am not fond of Apple is their "upgrade or die" policy. I have more than a few apps that were written for Windows95 that still work today.

 

But that's besides the point. When Apple or Windows render something obsolete, instead of letting the program die, a simple paid-for upgrade would work just fine.

 

Every business has the right to create its own business model, and every customer has the choice to choose it or the competition.

 

When it comes to subscriptions, all other things being equal, I'll choose the competition.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com

Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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Just now, Bill Heins said:

I prefer ownership though I do have 2 subscriptions- Adobe Photography Plan(because they don't sell Photoshop any more) and EastWest Composer Cloud Plus(I've actually NOT bought EW libraries because this plan is so cheap!).

 

Bill

You CAN purchase a version of Photoshop outright. I've been using P-shop since 1992. 

Currently using Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021, they've added AI features. Expert Mode will have the tools you need unless you are really going out into the weeds. 

Even bundled with Premiere Elements it was less than a year's subscription to Photoshop and I'll get 3 or 4 years out of it easily. 

Some things may be in different places but it's the real deal for the most part. No CMYK if you are prepping for offset printing but that's becoming rare. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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This has been a really interesting and thought-provoking thread. I appreciate the constructive and respectful dialog here.

 

I am switching my vote in the poll from "subscription" (door number 1) to "own with optional but paid updates" (number 2). BUT...

 

There are caveats and conditions. I'm a Mac user, so updates and bug fixes are a necessity. Apple sunsets old tech, including APIs and entire libraries, that's just the way it is (this is not the place for debating the merits of that policy). So, very few programs run forever on updated Macs. A "buy once and you're on your own" sales model doesn't work for me. Or for most Mac users, I suspect.

 

Looking back over the last 5-10 years or so - when the subscription model started to become the norm - it seems like I've had the best luck, and been most satisfied, with software that I've bought once and then paid for reduced-price major updates. Like Amplitude (v4 to v5, but v4 lasted a lot longer than a few years), and JRiver (new major version every year). As long as the free small updates and bug fixes keep coming until the next major version, and I get a discount for upgrading to the next major version, I'm good with that model. Logic worked out the best in terms of updates and cost - buy once, free updates forever - but as I pointed out before that's a real outlier.

 

The subscription models for ProTools and Adobe just don't cut it for me - too expensive to justify the limited updates. I don't use them anymore (except for PS Elements, even though it has the broken model of buy anew every couple of years). But the subscription for 1Password is great, I had no problem switching from ownership to subscription for that. The Waves model - buy once and subscribe to updates - doesn't work for me due to the terrible implementation and frequency of updates. (But dang, some of their instruments and plugins sound great, so I use them anyway...)

 

Bottom line for me, it's all about how well the vendor implements whatever plan they have (and of course how much they charge for it). We'll probably be seeing a variety of approaches for the foreseeable future. I'm OK with that as long as I can get my work done.

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6 minutes ago, dmitch57 said:

it seems like I've had the best luck, and been most satisfied, with software that I've bought once and then paid for reduced-price major updates...As long as the free small updates and bug fixes keep coming until the next major version, and I get a discount for upgrading to the next major version, I'm good with that model.

 

Good to hear. That's the model I've chosen for the eBooks.

 

But I'd like to address subscriptions from the vantage point of someone producing that kind of product. Knowing that I can always update a book means I don't have to be so concerned about getting EVERYTHING right before it's released. For example, with the Helix book, the headings were arranged inconveniently in a PDF reader's contents sidebar because they had equal "weight." That was pointed out to me so in the next revision, I redid all the H1, H2, H3 designations, which made it much easier to find information. I also tweaked the layout to make it more mobile-friendly. Fixed a few typos, too. The information itself didn't change much, but being able to make it a better product for readers was pretty cool. I know what software companies mean by "bug fixes and enhancements." :)

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32 minutes ago, Bill Heins said:

I've been running the full boat for so long I'm afraid I'd miss something...Levels, Curves, etc.

 

Bill

Color Curves are there. You can apply levels directly to a Layer (yes, there are layers, all sorts f them) or you can apply a Levels adjustment layer to a specific layer or all layers beneath it. Layer blending modes are extensive. Levels can be used on RGB or on individual R, G or B channels. Lots of filters, I could go on, maybe see if there is a trial version? 

I've using Elements since version 2014 and have been able to do the things I need done. I used to be a graphic designer/printer for many years, I've given Photoshop a pretty thorough run-through. If I found Elements lacking I would have gone another route. The tools are there, you may find them in different places. 

 

AI added a feature I've found handy since I photograph models once in a while. Select Subject has saved me lots of time, there may be little areas that get missed or added but the bulk of a selection is done accurately and quickly by clicking one command. Doesn't take as long to do the little tweaks as it used to take selecting the subject, that much is certain. 

 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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6 minutes ago, Anderton said:

 

Good to hear. That's the model I've chosen for the eBooks.

 

But I'd like to address subscriptions from the vantage point of someone producing that kind of product. Knowing that I can always update a book means I don't have to be so concerned about getting EVERYTHING right before it's released. For example, with the Helix book, the headings were arranged inconveniently in a PDF reader's contents sidebar because they had equal "weight." That was pointed out to me so in the next revision, I redid all the H1, H2, H3 designations, which made it much easier to find information. I also tweaked the layout to make it more mobile-friendly. Fixed a few typos, too. The information itself didn't change much, but being able to make it a better product for readers was pretty cool. I know what software companies mean by "bug fixes and enhancements." :)

I like this feature of purchased software as well. I look forward to your update on Max Your Mix.

 

I've updated quite a few plugins when the vendor sends an email to registered users and informs us of the free improvements. 

I hugely appreciate that kind of support and will support it in turn. I also like companies that provide a useful freebie now and then to keep us all interested. Native Instruments gave me the Raum reverb plugin one Christmas season, it's a nice reverb. IK Multimedia just sent me a survey on studio monitors, all I had to do is answer a few questions and I got a free copy of their relatively new Comprexxor plugin. Haven't used it yet but it's ready to go. 

 

You freely share knowledge on here, much appreciated!!!! So do many MPN members, this is a great place to learn new things. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I wonder if this kind of thinking will come to music next. Think of all the songs where you feel you could have made them better, or have them professionally mastered, or whatever. I wish YouTube let you replace a video with an improved video, but could keep the same URL.

 

In a way, we have that with web content. I wrote an article for Harmony Central called "Demystifying Compressors" and updated it quite a few times. So it was always current, but because it had the same URL, SEO was through the roof.

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26 minutes ago, techristian said:

I would rather OWN my software because I'm not a big commercial operation.  I can't write it off my Income Tax every year.

 

Welcome back, I wondered if you were okay :)

 

Depending on the subscription, though, it could work to your advantage...it depends on your situation. If you're just starting out, then PreSonus Sphere is a fantastic deal because you basically get all the software they make (instruments, add-ons, sample libraries, cloud storage, collaboration, etc.) for $15/month. If all that was an upfront cost, it would be a major expenditure. But if you already have instruments, sample libraries, cloud storage, etc.,then it makes a lot more sense to just buy Studio One outright. 

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