On subscriptions

More than three years ago I wrote a post about subscriptions and not a lot has changed since then. Subscriptions are still here, more present than ever. And they're getting a lot more expensive. I was chatting with Carl just the other day because I was curious to know his take on the current streaming landscape where everything is getting more fragmented but also a lot more expensive.

The issue with streaming platforms—but also with subscriptions in general—is that there's a finite amount of people who are going to subscribe to a specific service. Which is fine if the goal is to run a sustainable business. As long as you're pulling in more money that you're spending, you're good to go.

But running a sustainable business is not the goal. Growth is the goal. And you can't grow endlessly. And so what do you do when you're not growing enough? You either start branching out in weird ways or you increase prices. Or both.

There's also another option, and it's the one we're seeing slowly creeping in at the moment: subscriptions plus advertising. Because you know what's better than getting your money? Getting your money AND advertisers' money at the same time.

And that's inevitable. If the goal is to make money, money-making people will just use any tool at their disposal to get there. And that's just depressing.

In my chat with Carl, I mentioned that one can easily rack up hundreds of dollars a month just for entertainment services and he said I should calculate how much I'm spending on subscriptions. I thought it was a good idea so here's a breakdown of my subscriptions:

On the entertainment side, I'm not paying all that much considering I only have a Spotify family plan and I'm not subscribed to a single streaming service. The only other entertainment-related subscription I have going is Apple Arcade but that's just because I'm currently playing Japanese Rural Life Adventure. I'll cancel the sub as soon as I'm done with it. I also have a 1$/month contribution to the Sam Harris podcast that's been there for I don't even know how many years and I recently picked up another yearly sub to Craig Mod's Special Projects because he has a new book coming out and I want to support that since the work he does is amazing. So on the entertainment side of things we're looking at around 33$/month.

Then we have all the tech subscriptions. I don't have anything that's exclusively for work since most of the services I use are both for work and for my various side projects. We have domains, a couple of VPS, newsletter tools, and a few other things. We're talking around 70$/month. Which is honestly not too bad.

I'm ignoring a few things like my mobile phone plan and a couple of car-related stuff but if I were to include those I'd be in the 100$/month range which is honestly not bad at all. But I'd bet I'm the minority here because I consume very little entertainment. I'd be curious to see other people's breakdowns so if you do end up writing about your situation let me know.

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