Instagram is adding more features to its creator subscriptions test

In an apparent effort to compete with creator subscription services like Patreon, Instagram began an alpha test of a subscriber feature in January. Today, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced an expansion of the test features, along with some updates around how the last six months of development have gone.

When the feature began testing in January, only 10 creators had access to the feature, like Olympic gymnast Jordan Chiles and astrologer Aliza Kelly. The initial alpha rollout supported subscriber-only stories, subscriber badges and subscriber-only livestreams. Now, according to Mosseri, tens of thousands of creators have access, and the slate of subscriber-only features is expanding. New updates to Instagram subscriptions include subscriber group chats, reels and posts for subscribers only, and a subscriber-only tab on a creator’s profile, so paying fans can see the content they’ve unlocked access to.

Instagram told TechCrunch that subscriber chats can include up to 30 people, and the chat will only be available for 24 hours, which gives creators more control over how and when to interact with their community.

“A really important thing to creators everywhere is sustainable income,” Mosseri said in a video. “At the end of the day, if you’re a creator, you’re a business, and a great way to establish some sustainable and predictable income is through subscriptions.”

Right now, Meta doesn’t take any cut from creator earnings on its platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This policy will remain in place through 2024 — originally, it was supposed to end in 2023, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last month that this set-up would extend for another year. This is a clear attempt to entice creators into monetizing on Meta’s products in the long term, but for now, it’s a great deal for creators. Zuckerberg hasn’t been clear how much of a cut Meta will take once this introductory period is over, but he said last year that it would be “less than the 30% that Apple and others take.”

In the metaverse, however, the company will take a 47.5% cut from digital asset sales — 30% through the Meta Quest store, and 17.5% through the Horizon Worlds platform.

Outside of our VR headsets, though, Meta has been rolling out a number of features geared toward creators, which presumably won’t be as taxed. Yesterday, Instagram launched a creator marketplace, currently in an invite-only stage, which will allow brands and creators to connect about potential deals and partnerships. A number of startups attempt to facilitate these connections already, and though those platforms have existed longer, Instagram may have an advantage in that its own product is native to the platform.