Are we witnessing the rise of the $9.99 creator subscription economy?

Music fans have been paying $9.99 per month for subscriptions to individual music streaming services for 20 years now – going all the way back to Rhapsody in 2001.

Debate continues to rage about whether or not it’s time for Spotify and other services to increase this price point (something SPOT has already done in Brazil and parts of Scandinavia).

But that infamous $9.99 monthly price point is now also becoming a fixture of another important – and fast-growing – segment of the modern music industry: that offering artists tools and instruments with which to create music and sell creations.

Last week Native Instruments (NI) launched a new $9.99 subscription service to virtual instruments and effects called ‘KOMPLETE NOW’.

NI says that its a new subscription offer will give beatmakers, producers, and creators a collection of some of its “most highly sought-after instruments and effects for a low monthly price”.

Formed in 1996, Berlin-based Native Instruments has established itself as the one of the world’s biggest manufacturers and developers of audio production and DJ software / hardware.

At the start of 2021, Investment firm EMH Partners sold its majority stake in the music technology company to tech-focused investment firm Francisco Partners for an undisclosed sum.

NI’s monthly active users stood at 1.5m as of the end of 2020.

Creators can subscribe to KOMPLETE NOW on a monthly or annual basis, and until January 10, 2022, Native Instruments will offer a three-month free trial to the service.

The launch of KOMPLETE NOW is actually Native Instrument’s second foray into the into the $9.99-per-month creator subscription landscape, following the launch of its Splice rival back in 2018, which offers access to loops and samples.

And NI’s two $9.99 subscription products form part of wider pricing pattern in the ‘creator tools’ sector.

Splice, a royalty free sample marketplace that claims to be used by over 4 million people, offers a $9.99 subscription of its own.

The company’s Sounds+ plan, which costs either $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, includes access to samples, presets, the MIDI Desktop and mobile app, plus 100 monthly Sounds credits.

Splice, which closed a $55 million round of Series D funding earlier this year (bringing its total raised to over $155m), says that its library contains over 2 million premium royalty-free samples, loops, presets and sound effects “from the world’s best sound designers”.

Meanwhile, music production platform and distributor BeatStars, which you’ll remember for being the source of the track used for Lil Nas X’s breakout global hit Old Town Road back in 2019, also offers a $9.99-per-month ‘Marketplace’ plan for producers looking to sell tracks.

BeatStars, which has paid out over $150 million to creators worldwide via its platform, says that its marketplace is for “sellers who want to grow their business and have access to selected features”.

The Marketplace plan lets producers upload unlimited tracks and stems and it lets them sell an unlimited number of sound kits and custom Services to other creators.

For various other upgrades to the ‘Marketplace’ plan, producers can opt for the “Pro Page” plan for $19.99 per month.

Also operating in the music creator market – but not quite at the 9.99 price point – is Spotify, which offers a monthly subscription plan for music creators via its Soundtrap platform.

Soundtrap is the Stockholm-based ‘online recording studio’ company that Spotify acquired in November 2017. Spotify also launched a SoundTrap for Storytellers plan in 2019 for podcasters.

A subscription to Music Makers Premium, which Soundtrap says is “for aspiring music creators” starts at $7.99 per month when taken as an annual subscription and gives subscribers access to over 15,900 loops and over 860 instruments and sounds.

Soundtrap’s ‘Music Makers Supreme’ plan, which SPOT says is “for next level music creators”, starts at $11.99 per month, and gives subscribers access to 860 instruments and sounds, over 18,640 loops, and “for a limited time” according the website, more than 300 sounds from music making platform Splice.

Elsewhere, music sampling marketplace Tracklib offers subscription plans for music creators starting at $5.99 for its “Essential’ plan, $13.99-a-month for its Standard plan and $29.99 per month for the Professional plan.

In a YouTube video running through its new subscription service, KOMPLETE NOW, Native Instrument product specialist Matt Lara says that “for 9.99 a month you can dive into a huge library of NI’s premium instruments and effects”.

“KOMPLETE NOW is a curated bundle that gives you instruments and effects that are perfect for hip hop, R&B, Trap, drill or chart topping pop productions.”

Matt Lara, Native Instruments

He adds: “This is the perfect bundle for those of you who have been waiting to check out unique and high quality sounds with a library that’s constantly growing in regular product editions, new preset drops, as well as feature updates.

“KOMPLETE NOW is a curated bundle that gives you instruments and effects that are perfect for hip hop, R&B, Trap, drill or chart topping pop productions, so if you’re making beats or upbeat pop hooks this is the right choice for you.”

At the root of this trend is that music fans (possibly accelerated by more time spent at home during the pandemic) are increasingly also considering themselves to be music creators.

According to Midia, the number of releasing artists grew by a third in 2020 alone.Music Business Worldwide