Subscriptions vs Purchasing

I used Slate plugins on my first EP. I had them via the Slate Everything Bundle, and I liked them a lot. One thing I didn’t like was the $150+ price tag every year to re-up. I was paying yearly, not monthly, so it was a big hit - right in the middle of the holiday season. So I decided to cancel right after I finished that EP, and started switching to other purchased plugins.

I bought Waves plugins, primarily because I could get them for $29 ea, if I just waited long enough. But I also bought d16’s Repeater (because I liked it so much in the Slate bundle and got it for half off because of a coupon I got due to owning a Focusrite interface), and I’ve owned the SSL Native plugins for years (got them when I bought the Duende PCI card).

I’ve probably spent more this past 12 months on plugins than I would have if I’d just renewed the everything bundle, but I have these for the life of the software, essentially, and don’t have to pay anything more for them.

And every time Slate releases a new plugin, like their Lustrous Plates release, or their new Gates pack, I find myself thinking about renewing my subscription (only this time monthly instead of yearly).

Anyone else struggle with this (dumb question, I know)? If you have, and you’ve managed to resolve it in your head, how did you resolve it?

I’ve had the Slate subscription since it’s inception, and have had a few others, including currently the Kush and McDSP packages. I won’t be renewing Kush or McDSP… they’re both great sets, but I only use a couple from either so I’ll just buy those.
For every subscription BUT Slate, I’ve used them to decide whether there are plugs that I would use on a regular basis, and then buy them… like a try-before-buy sorta thing. For Slate, I’ve held on to it due to the sheer number of plugins I use on everything, and the fact that they keep adding. Eventually the value proposition will roll over and I’ll have paid more in subscription than the cost of the plugs, but that would take a long long time… and it’s entirely possible that by then I’ll have scaled down and just bought the ones I use the most.
I keep Slate on a monthly payment thing. I did Kush/McDSP on a yearly, because there was a great deal running at the time… but those will be the last that I do that with. I felt like after determining I wasn’t going to use most of the plugs, I was still locked in for the rest of the year. Boo.

Personally, I hate the subscription model. I just do. I want to own my plugins and software so I have never been tempted and just renting them is flushing your $$ into the ether. EXCEPT, the rent-to-own model. Melda production does this and I think it’s a brilliant way to get folks to buy in to your whole line of plugins, even if it is more expensive in the long run. But their monthly fee is too high. I already have way too many plugins.

I’d be sorely tempted though if Kush switched to rent-to-own… or SoundToys or Boz.

I haven’t done any subscriptions, except the Waves Update Plan (WUP) many years ago, just for a year or two. I think it could make sense in some cases, like for a brick-and-mortar studio business (or thriving home business), where you’d rather have your costs be about the same monthly (so you can budget) rather than occasional offhand purchases and upgrade costs. It might help prevent the “ooh look at this” G.A.S. mentality too, in terms of self-discipline. :slightly_smiling_face:

Or if it’s a producer or engineer who is going to work with a band for a few months and needs a specific brand of plugins (or several), the monthly subscription might make some sense.

I’m just guessing, due to lack of experience with this, but an upside could be not having to track a lot of stuff yourself … especially in case of a computer crash. Presumably you get to install your license on several computers, and they don’t really care as long as you don’t exceed your limit, so not having to track which machine had which license and switching them over, and dealing with “number of activation” limits and red tape might be dispensed with. Or if you want to move licenses around on different machines often.

I guess this has been one of my issues with the subscription. I only seriously used about a third of the plugins in the Slate bundle.Yes, it would take about 4 years at the subscription price to purchase those 8 plugins, but at the end of four years with the subscription, I don’t actually have any of them.

This is me - except I don’t have the cash to buy the plugins I want right away, and I’m impatient as, well… I’m impatient. And the Slate bundle was $150 for the whole year (when I subbed originally), or about $12.50/mo. So it seemed like a steal. And they keep adding plugins for “free”, right!

Slate requires iLok, so you can move 'em wherever with your iLok, but that’s not the real benefit of the subscription. Your other ideas, like smoothing out costs, or needing them just for a particular project, make more sense.

But I think I’ve talked myself out of resubscribing. The first argument is that I really used only about 8 of the plugins, like I mentioned above, and while I really liked them, paying for the whole thing to use only a third of the available options (or less), seems wasteful (even if it’s cheaper).

But the other argument I have against resubscribing is that I felt at times that “I have all these plugins that I’m paying for, I should be using it.” Sort of a weird pressure to get all of the value out of a regularly occurring payment. Wherever that comes from, I don’t want it. And that’s an even more compelling argument for me.

Good point, kind of a “subscribers guilt trip” always sitting on your shoulder.

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Dare I say it, but unless Boz releases anything, I am actually really happy with the plug ins I have and am not really after anything more (dum dum dahhhh!).
I own all my plugins and the only thing I subscribe to is the eMastering online software which is subscription only (as mentioned in another thread).

I can see the benefits of constant updates and access to lots of other plug-ins, but for someone like me who works in the studio in spurts and have pretty mega busy periods in between, there’d be a lot of wasted money being thrown at subscriptions that will simply not be used for weeks on end.


…and with a subscription model, there’s the issue that when, not if, you end your subscription, you have a whole library of mixes that will have used plugins you no longer have access to.

PluginAlliance is on to something with their “Pick Pack”. Still, it’s a really expensive way to buy plugins, but at least you’re buying the ones you want.


That’s a good point that I know - but forget about. My mixes for my EP that I used Slate plugins on will either have to be remixed at some point, or I’ll have to pay for slate again, if I want to tweak them.

Waves is doing that, too ($19/mo for 2 years), but I’m not a big fan of credit (which those sorts of things resemble). A $29 a month commitment for two years or more is something I’m not a big fan of. And with Waves, it’s cheaper to just wait until the plugins you want go on sale for $29 (ignoring, of course, the cost of WUP should you ever want to upgrade after the first year).

Don’t even get me started on Waves’ “WUP”! :wink:

I think in general, you’re better off if you’re patient and wait for a sale, or save up for the $$ for tthe plugins you really want. I’m an old analog guy and still blown away at the technology available to anyone wanting to get into recording/mixing. It’s a good time to be into this sort of thing. :sunglasses:

I’ve grown dependent on Boz in the past two years, and may yet purchase Big Beautiful Door if the price drops to my budget on Black Friday this year. And I bit the bullet with the Virtual Guitarist guitars when they were on sale. Same with Jamstix. I bought Waves Bass Slapper for $29.00 and love it! But to subscribe to Slate or East West I’d have to cancel CBS and Starz to stay within my retiree budget, and my truth is I’m not a good enough or busy enough musician to sufficiently benefit from too many VSTs. I’m still discovering havoc and mayhem I’ve yet to wreak with what I’ve had for 10 years in some cases. I also bought cool instruments like RealStrat which I just never use because I find it too intimidating.

But I have considered buying something for a month just to check it out. I might one day do that if I had an epiphany and just needed some oomph for a special project, but what happens to your project when your license lapses? It might be annoying.

Right now I still find a lot of usefulness in Sonik Synth 2 and Alchemy, old and defunct VSTs but with lots of sounds of decent quality. And many if not most I have never even tried yet. So what don’t I have? Great horns? Nope. So I will not make songs that require them. It is limiting, but if one can live within one’s self-imposed limitations, subscriptions, as alluring as they are, can be avoided.

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I skimmed some of the other posts…

Part of the question here is if you are recording for income. This changes things. Currently Avid is the only subscription I absolutely can not live without. My Slate is still active but I haven’t used a single plugin from that bundle in so long that I won’t renew it. The only one I was somewhat dependent on was Scuffham which I bought used and paid the license transfer. Others like Kush where I was just using the Clariphonic, I bought when it went on sale.

Slates licensing plan is hard to beat, I ended up buying around it so I didn’t need it anymore, but that’s hard to do if you don’t already own a lot of other high end plugs. I quit using Slate when I got the UAD library 3 years ago, but the pre-owned UAD package was over $6000. So the ideal solutions really depend on what your income from studio related projects are. I think Slate is the best bundle affordable to hobbyists (meaning in a reasonable price range that makes sense for a non-professional to use) that you can possibly buy. I’m not a huge fan of the Slate library myself, though I respect him personally and very much appreciate what he brings to the table. I would never fault someone for using the everything pack because I recognize the value of it for what it is :slight_smile:

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The only subscription I have for creative tools is Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. It’s about $11 per month. And yeah it gets to me if I think about how much I have/will spend on it year after year, but that’s all they offer these days! And I go with Photoshop basically because there are a TON of great tutorials out there and otherwise I wouldn’t know how to do anything. :slight_smile: I think it’s also the best software to do both photo manipulation and fine art. I justify it to myself by saying that it’s cheaper than hiring a designer to do my album art and graphics and whatnot.

As far as plugins go… I don’t see myself ever doing a subscription. I think I’ve been pretty good about sticking with the plugins that I already have, for the most part. I was tested recently with that great FabFilter 15th anniversary sale. Pro-Q looks like a better EQ than the one I have. (iZotope Neutron EQ.) But it’s not THAT much better, and I definitely don’t need it, so I decided to pass. (But boy did I think about it!)

So if you’re tempted whenever Slate releases a new plugin… haha I don’t know, just unsubscribe from Slate marketing emails and ignore the company completely? I like to remind myself that people recorded excellent music with way less at their fingertips than you get stock with any DAW these days. My plugins are not holding me back. So as much as I sometimes want to buy something, it’s rare that I do.


Not currently making income from my recording, but at $15 a month, it’s not exactly a huge expense, even for a hobby.

Ugghh - Adobe - I’ve been a CC subscriber for about forever (well, since they started it and stopped selling full versions of their software), for business reasons. It’s always been a business expense, so deductible, but I do wish there were other options. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any great options for it if you need more than one of the apps.

I’m not subscribed to their marketing - Steven Slate’s voice is just so loud, it reaches me wherever I’m at! (I could stop going to Gearslutz, but that’s just asking a little much :wink: ).

Maybe it’s Gearslutz then! I never hear about new Slate releases. I think it’s a little bit like social media… getting caught up in the latest and greatest, or just what everyone else is doing–it always makes me feel like what I have isn’t good enough. So I do my best to tune it all out.

I resolved really easy. All the plugins that are essential and I have to rely on are on my DAW (Studio One Producer). I do have a few effect and spot plugs that are nice but they’re not essential to my workflow.

At this moment I use outdated everything…my EZDrummer is V.1, all my Amplitube plugs are one version behind. My synths are probably two versions behind. If they break, I won’t care much, as they’re not essential to my work.

If I have to buy, I chose to buy the software for the duration of the product life cycle. I hate subscription-based stuff. Usually over 1/2 a year you’ve already paid for the full license, then you star losing money afterwards.

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Well then it doesn’t make sense to try and replace it with things like a perpetual Waves Mercury license or a UAD everything bundle. It also wouldn’t make sense to outright buy the Slate stuff because for the same price you could get the Mercury bundle. So why not just stay with the subscription? Simple decision…right?

Subscription always comes out more $$$. I am in IT and I am seeing how my clients are getting fleeced on the Adobe and Microsoft subscription schemes. After one year they end up paying off the full price of software and then usually there are 2-3 good years you can use software with no issues, hell I am on Office 2010 still. With subscription you keep paying it over and over.

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