el cheapo · whine and cheese

Day 492: I don’t subscribe to this model.

Warning: I’m about to date myself. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re a young’un and you should just sit down and listen. Okay?

Remember how in the good old days, you could go out and buy music and then it was yours? You held it in your hand, you could take it home, and then thirty years later you could pull it out and play it. (Why yes, I do still have my copy of Madonna: The Immaculate Collection from when I was twelve.)

Now everything is by subscription: we pay every month and in the end we actually don’t own anything. If the world went post-apocalyptic tomorrow, I could still listen to all our CDs. But if the internet and everything in it went down, and I had no CDs, there’d be nothing to listen to. I don’t own my music, even the stuff I paid for.

It actually bothers me less with music than with computer programs. Apparently you can still buy (and own) Microsoft Office 2019, but there will be no more updates. If you want a more updated version, you have to pay to maintain a subscription. Thank goodness for Google Docs and Sheets.

There are a lot of niche-type programs I use. I subscribed to PicMonkey so that I could do some more advanced image editing to make K’s bat mitzvah logo; I kept it because I do find my way onto it every now and then for other small projects. Is it useful? Yes. Is it ten-dollars-per-month-if-I-want-to-keep-access-to-my-original-files useful? No, probably not. I should really look into just buying a copy of PhotoShop… assuming one can actually be bought, and not just subscribed-to.

I use music notation software to arrange our ensemble pieces for homeschool. I’m making do with the free version, because I can’t stand the thought of another subscription. I did actually subscribe to a music education program, but at least we’re using their resources all the time. I have a Kobo Plus subscription because, with four Kobos, it’s a lot cheaper than buying those books for our whole family; it’s even cheaper than the late fees we’d incur if we borrowed hard copies from the library. To be fair, we also borrow e-books from our library through overdrive, and that’s great, but the Kobo Plus subscription is worth it for us.

But you see the problem: almost any niche interest or hobby that I have can be improved by using software, but I have to subscribe to it forever and ever, or I lose my stuff. These companies have got to be making a mint off this.

So no, I do not subscribe to this subscription model. Bring back actual ownership, I say (shaking my fist wildly.)

See? I’m dating myself.

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