Popular Instagrammers can now start charging you money to view their content, in a move that seemed pre-ordained from the moment that Facebook (now calling itself Meta) acquired the photo-sharing app.
In a Wednesday blog post, Instagram announced that a “handful of creators” have been chosen to test out subscriptions. The ability to subscribe will appear as a new button on an Instagrammer’s profile, and the creators have the ability to set their own prices, which can range from $0.99 to a baffling $99.99 per month.
So what do you get for your money? Well, it appears you’ll be able to see Instagram Stories created just for subscribers. Instagram creators can also choose to broadcast live exclusively for those who pay. You’ll know that a story has been unlocked with a subscription by a new purple ring (as opposed to the pink/orange/yellow ombré situation with a public story and a green ring around a story for close friends).
You’ll also get a new purple badge next to your name when you comment on a creator’s post or send them a direct message, which might get you some attention that unbadged randos do not get.
Facebook/Meta has said it will not take a cut of subscriptions until next year at the earliest.
“Creators do what they do to make a living, and it’s important that that is predictable,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a video announcing the new feature. “Subscriptions are one of the best ways to have a predictable income—a way that is not attached to how much reach you get on any given post, which is inevitably going to go up and down over time.”
Mosseri also said that Instagram creators will eventually be able to take their subscriber lists to apps/sites owned by companies that are not Instagram (or Meta), which is an added incentive for creators to want to tap into the new feature. Unlike Twitter’s newly launched subscription service, Twitter Blue, Instagram’s version of subscriptions does not unlock any long-requested features (though you’ve long been able to edit Instagram posts, so, that makes sense).
If you are not a creator, you won’t be able to charge people to watch your Instagram Stories, which seems rude but perhaps fair. Some creators have used a workaround to earn subscription revenue from Instagram before this launch, by requiring users to subscribe off-platform to be added to the creator’s “close friends” list. Creators can presumably still use that workaround (which would also avoid Instagram’s eventual commission), but the official subscription method certainly seems more straightforward.