Renting Plugins vs Buying a License!!

Renting Plugins vs Buying a License!!

The big trend these days has been to “rent” software. Photoshop switched to a subscription model, along with Pro Tools and many plugin companies are now offering the same way of utilizing their products.

The old school feeling is that you don’t really want to “rent” your tools. You want to “own” them. I get it. But we are talking about software here. It never goes up in value so it’s NOT an investment. It’s something that you use. So what you really need is “access” to it. Ownership means (and should mean) very little. For instance, I haven’t owned a car in decades. But I always had access to one. And a new one every 2 or 3 years.

I’ve been working with audio software for almost 30 years and I can tell you that over that time, I’ve spent a lot of money buying these things. I didn’t have a choice. But what happens over that time is that a lot of companies go out of business. They stop making updates and as computer companies update their system software, the things I have purchased, no longer work. They’re useless. And I can’t obviously sell them either.

The list of such software would go on for pages. Many of these companies are or were small and can’t afford to keep up with system updates made by Apple and Microsoft. So they go to the graveyard. Along with the money you spent, buying them outright. Owning a license.

One of my favorite resources for learning software is Groove3. While they do offer purchase options for their individual tutorial titles, their monthly All Access Pass is an incredible value. Especially with all the titles they now have available. I don’t think it would be possible to own them all.

But also what the monthly subscription service offers us is the pressure it puts on the company we’re subscribing to. If they don’t deliver great value, year after year or month after month, we can always cancel. We only pay if we still need the software. So it’s to their benefit that the software keeps working and keeps improving. Because we’re still paying.

As a big fan of the earlier versions of Photoshop, I signed up for their service about 6 months ago. And it worked great. But when I decided I didn’t need it anymore, I canceled. And it’s the same for any software and especially plugins. Many companies have dozens of plugins in their bundle and we get the opportunity to use them all for one low price. Something almost all of us can afford.

Sure. The idea of owning things feels good. But honestly, the only thing you really need is “access” to those things when you really need them. And a subscription model, in my humble opinion, is generally the best way to go.

You can learn more by watching my videos at

I hope this message finds you well. Kenny Gioia