Louis CK Takes a Direct-to-Fans Approach to Media DistributionPosted in Blog Post, Disruptive
Louis C.K. was better known for failure than success, but these days he is seeing new fortunes by doing things differently.
“I can go out on the road. I can make money. I can do what I do in its purest form without asking anybody for permission. You can’t cancel my stand-up tours. It’s impossible. There’s too many separate bosses. There is no “bosses.” I rent these theaters now. When I worked the clubs, it was very different. Pretty much you needed to please the Improvs, but if I get cancelled, I can put together a stand-up tour and go on the road and continue generating. I don’t worry that way anymore.”
This explains his risk-taking FX show, Louie, and now Like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails before him, his forays with alternative media distribution. His latest special, Live from the Beacon Theatre, is available for digital download on his website DRM-free for $5. He wants to see how well self-publishing works compared to a traditional DVD release.
I paid for the production and posting of this video with my own money. I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me. So, please help me keep this being a good idea. I can’t stop you from torrenting; all I can do is politely ask you to pay your five little dollars, enjoy the video, and let other people find it in the same way.
The numbers seem to support the effort. In the first three days more than 100,000 people have downloaded the special, bringing in more than half a million dollars in revenue. The self-directed special was a premium video production, shot with six cameras over two performances at the Beacon Theater,rang in at about $170,000. Add about $32,000 for the development of his Web site, “some money for PayPal charges etc,” and it boils down to a profit of about $200,000 thus far.. or, as he figures “$75.58, after taxes.”
This reenforces the lesson that media dinosaurs still have not learned: If you provide premium content in a format that is convenient for fans to consume it, you do not need to create and protect a massive infrastructure to deliver it. Maintaining antiquated distribution channels open up the door for competition from the content creators themselves.