The Subscription Business Model

….and why it sucks

Medium is $5/mo. fyi

There are two types of people in the world: People who are fans of Neal Degrasse Tyson and Neanderthals.

I saw an ad for MASTERCLASS featuring Mr. Tyson discussing how to think better. I assume it has a lot do to with practical applications of the scientific method, but I don’t know for sure, so I decided to take the class. Unfortunitly, you can’t ‘take a class’, (you can at universities, they also offer extensions) you have to sign up for a year’s subscription. I’m sure they have something else worth a little bit of my time, but for the most part it feels like being forced to subscribe to Ted Talks. Love Ted Talks, and they are free on youtube. When the paywall comes up, I have trained myself to ask, “Does this really have enough value for me go down this rabbit hole?”.

As a consumer, I have a mantra, “Don’t Subscribe”. Whether it’s free (nothing is ever) or $1 a year I try to never go down that path. Why you ask? Getting out is never set up in a reasonable way. I had a “free trial” of Spectrum TV that took 2 brutal hours of time with customer service to escape. And if you aren’t careful, it adds up.

The current business model every internet consumer co. has a hard-on for is the Subscription Model. I bet most people reading this have Spotify ($9.99/mo) or Apple music ($14.95/mo). And I’m sure you LOVE whichever one you have. Apple offers the terrible tv shows they wildly overspent on, all the music you most likely will ever need, cloud storage in their data-prison (Icloud) and ‘arcade’, whatever games thingy that is. It's a little more than any competitor will charge, but you have an iphone and have proven willing to spend more to get a little less due to (just a guess) personal insecurities. I would imagine 80% of Medium readers have AppleMusic. (and 80% have stopped reading) Spotify is a little cheaper but gives you everything audible. Well, unless you like books on tape (cd, digi what are they called now). Becasue Amazon has monopolized the book business.

Amazon gives away a version of Spotify for free if you are a Prime member. ($119) They have a legit TV streaming service (also free after spending $119/yr). The real value is the shipping. You get things shipped to you for free, but as opposed to the free shipping you get without being a Prime member it’s faster and you can’t buy something really cheap and get it the next day for free. Those are the reasons people pay $119 for Prime.

Well, you’d think that all those insane perks you’d get with Prime would filter to their books on tape super app, Audible. Makes sense Audible would be free. Or cheap. Maybe a book a year. Nope, but you can spend another $14.95 and get a book a month. So that doesn’t suck…really.. To be fair Audible has a cheaper deal ($7.95) which is free for a month right now. You get no books. I guess some podcasts, a few theater plays, and a message when on the 29th day that says:

“A friendly email reminder before your trial ends.”

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Yes, your 4th “perk” is a reminder to cancel. That is actually listed with its own bullet point on the sales page.

With that kind of upside, there are 112,000,000 Prime members. But you still have to buy books at an additional cost or $14.95/month for 1 book. There is no ‘bargain bin’ at Audible.

Of course, to utilize Spotify, AppleMusic or Prime you need energy (I won’t go there) and the internet. AT&T high-speed home interweb is (base price) $45/mo. But maybe you steal your neighbors/moms/friends/Starbucks next door, I bet you still pay for your cell phone. 5G, (4G for data) on Verizon is $70/mo. if you have your own compatible phone. (on their website it looks like it’s $45 but that’s because they assume you are getting 4 lines). Now, if you are smart you have gone with the “Un-carrier” T-Mobile who gives you 2 lines (and 1 more for free) for $90/mo…..Wait a minute….(I could not get their rep to provide me a price for just one line and I chatted with them for 10 minutes. So fuck’em, their website says it's more expensive, I say it's more expensive.) This means T-Mobile’s barrier to entry is higher than Verizon's. Ain’t that a shocker.

So.. You are sitting around eating Cheetos, (ordered from Amazon Fresh, which until recently was another monthly fee, as the rise of competition (Walmart) helped Amazon realize they should fold it back into Prime) listening to Cold Play on (You just prefer the interface) Spotify while playing Mario Kart 8 (on Apple Arcade) with The Mandalorian (Disney + $15.99/mo) on in the background and you realize, you are becoming a fatass who never goes outside.

As luck should have it, gym’s are opening back up. LA Fitness is offering $19.99 a month with no upfront money. Good deal. Of course, you need clothes for the gym, you have gained a few lb.’s during COVID, and you don’t want to shop at a clothing store so…..

A subscription to FABFITFUN is $50 a season. But Elle will give you 5 items a month for $50/mo. Yoga Club is $89/every 3 months while Fabletics is also $50/month. That decision comes down to your personal style and…also…. whoever picks their shit out and sends it to you.

You can drive to the gym because you leased a Lexus for only $329.00 a month ($1,999 down, that was your trade-ins value — how lucky). And it is awesome. (Yes, a lease is a glorified car rental) But then you get your credit card bill….

It feels like things are getting out of hand. Thank god the Google Play Store has a subscription monitoring section.

*If you follow me you know I’m vocal about Google’s issues. So the reason they are conspicuously not featured for doing the same things as the other listed companies is that I have spent hours blowing them up already and I think its time I spread the love.*

You log in and go to the Google Play Store, click menu>subscriptions and you’ll see how much fucking money you are wasting. You’ll most likely find a $29.99 a month dating app (Tinder is considered a dating app) you forgot (cough, cough) you still have from when you were single. Also the stalker app you used when Trixie (who you met on Tinder) dumped you for Amir who worked at the gym you now go to for $19.99/mo. and Pornhub from the bachelor party when your cousin Steve got married (and every day since) for $9.99/mo.

Most women are horrified that men pay for porn at this point. Rightfully so, but $21.00/mo,. $79.00/mo (because you don’t eat on dates but need to binge after) and $44.00/mo add up ladies.

Speaking of adding up, let me show what every subscription listed costs per year thus far.

Spotify — $119.88

Applemusic — $179.40

Amazon Prime — $119

Audible — $179.40

Gym — $239.88

Disney + $191.88


Ellie $600

Yoga Club $356

Fabletics $600

Lexus $3948

Tinder $359.88

Spym $143.88

Pornhub $119.88 $252

Goldbelly $948

Enjoyflowers $528

For a grand total of $9085.45 annually or $757.12 debt to income a month.

No one has all those specific subscriptions but you have Netflix, or at least 200,000,000 people do. Also, 600,000 people subscribe to BARK BOX for their dog, 100,000 subscribe to BESPOKE BOX who sends a box monthly of crap that technology has made obsolete over the last 100 years, darts, a comb a lighter whatever. Maybe I should start a subscriber box called, “Shit I would otherwise throwaway that’s in my garage”. Think $24.99 a month is too much?

So as badly as I want to take the Neal Degrasse Tyson Masterclass, I’m not paying $180.00 annually to do it. Had they offered $75.00 for one class, I’d jump on it. I just don’t need Gordan Ramsey to teach me how to cook, Howard Schultz how to fail horrifically at running for president or Anna Wintour how to be a bitch.

Hell, I’ve run companies for the last 20 years, I’m sure I could teach her a thing or two about being a bitch.



Shit is about to get real. Or I’m just going to complain a lot.

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