Instagram and TikTok planning subscription models

What you'll learn in this post:
  • Instagram tests subscriptions for creator with eight price tiers
  • TikTok is also planning a subscription model
  • What opportunities and risks arise for musicians

2022 has been dubbed by many experts as the “year of the creator” – not exactly a bold suggestion, so-called creators have gained enormous reach in the past few years and the creator economy is said to be worth around 100 billion dollars. Creators have also generated much traffic on social media platforms, which is why it is in these platform’s own interest to keep them happy by offering them monetization opportunities. This is exactly the direction the planned subscription models are aiming for.

First tests run on Instagram

These plans are already taking somewhat concrete form over at Instagram, which has now started its first tests. These are, however, still within a moderate framework: no more than 10 creators from the U.S. are able to use the feature at the moment. There are eight different price levels available for these subscriptions: 0.99, 1.99, 2.99, and 4.99, and up to 9.99, 19.99, 49.99, and even 99.99 dollar per month.

Added value for subscribers

But what’s in it for the subscribers? For one, they get access to exclusive live videos and stories. For another, they receive a special badge that makes them stand out in the comments or the inbox of the creators. As soon as someone signs up, they will have access to all the content previously only available to the subscribers, such as the stories in the creator’s highlights. Until 2023, at least, Instagram will take no share of the generated revenues.

TikTok only in planning phase

There is no doubt that Instagram is also launching this new monetization option to counter the mounting pressure from TikTok. But TikTok isn’t slacking off either and now have their own subscription model planned for their creators. News on this is still pretty vague, however. The only thing TikTok has confirmed is that the feature is currently being tested. It is therefore still unclear what the creators will actually be able to offer to their subscribers and whether TikTok will pocket any of the revenues.

Possibilities and tightrope walks

For creators, especially those on TikTok, this development raises the question of which content they will use to feed the algorithm and which they want to exclusively offer to their subscribers. This is likely to prove to be a tightrope walk, since on the one hand, you want to gain new followers, and on the other, you have to provide content to your paying subscribers. Another aspect that remains open is if the users, especially the gen Z majority, would be willing to make monthly payments or if they prefer occasional donations.

Despite the open questions, new opportunities could no doubt emerge here for musicians with an engaged fanbase. Whether this will be a replacement or an addition to platforms like Patreon or OnlyFans, of course, won’t be known until the subscriptions are officially available. But the moment it gets really interesting for artists is when streaming platforms, too, start offering subscriptions with which one can offer exclusive content to fans.