Instagram starts testing creator subscriptions

A small number of influencers can now paywall stories and livestreams.


Instagram creators are getting another way to create income from the platform: subscriptions. A very small number of influencers in the US have access to the feature for now as Instagram tests the feature.

At the outset, they'll be able to put some livestreams and stories behind a paywall. Those stories, which can be saved to subscribers-only highlights, have a purple ring to make them stand out, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said.

As with Twitch and YouTube, subscribers will receive a purple badge next to their usernames. Creators can see the badge in comments, messages and elsewhere. As such, they'll be able to devote more of their attention to subscribers, if they like.

More subscription features may be added in the future. Mosseri also said his team is working on ways for creators to export their subscriber lists and "bring them off of Instagram to other apps and websites built by other companies."

Creators will be able to set a monthly price of their choosing and followers can subscribe via a button on their profile. Instagram plans to expand the test to more creators in the coming months and parent company Meta previously said it won't take a cut of creators' earnings until at least 2023.

"This will help creators earn more by offering benefits to their most engaged followers like access to exclusive Lives and Stories," said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Instagram's parent company Meta. "I'm excited to keep building tools for creators to make a living doing creative work and to put these tools in more creators' hands soon."

Facebook added subscriptions in 2019. It seemed inevitable that, given the platform's popularity and large number of influencers, the option would come to Instagram as well. Mosseri previously said creators would be one of Instagram's major areas of focus this year, and subscriptions certainly play into that. It follows Instagram offering creators payouts for hitting certain livestreaming targets and other monetization features.

Last summer, Zuckerberg announced plans to invest $1 billion in creators by the end of 2022. With so many influencers finding big audiences on other platforms (many of which are investing heavily in creators), the company was left with little choice but to try and draw them to Facebook and Instagram with the promise of payouts.