louie's lucky after all
Louis CK reveals his new special made him 'shitloads of money'
Last night comedian Louis CK revealed his grand experiment in media distribution has more than paid off. In a post on his website, the comic divulged financial figures regarding his groundbreaking special.
Available exclusively online for only $5, the Digital Rights Management-free production (meaning, you can do whatever you want with your purchased file) cost him $170,000 to film, plus $32,00 to build the site it was hosted on. In just twelve hours, 50,000 fans bought a copy, netting the comic roughly $250,000. Excluding Paypal fees, that money went directly to his production company, Pig Newton, Inc. Maybe that fat bastard is on to something.
The success of direct-to-the-people distribution has increased rapidly in recent years, gaining it’s first major breakthrough in 2007 when Radiohead released their album “In Rainbows” using the format. The band — like CK — bypassed the constraints of major studios and made the album the way they wanted, retaining complete ownership of the product. This model encourages the truest form of artistic integrity, as the product is made solely by the content creator for the fans, without any corporate influence.
Comedians and musicians aren’t the only ones capitalizing on the allure of “Hey, this only costs a few bucks and I get to directly support the artist?” Video game distribution company Steam has embraced this philosophy since 2003, and although they have never released sales figures, a former competitor estimates the company controlled 70% of the digital distribution market. With over 1,400 games available through their store, and 35 million active users, Steam has absolutely blown up in recent years. This is in no small part due to the software’s ease of use, restrained use of DRM, affordable pricing and overall user-centric philosophy.
For the most part, direct distribution by established artists benefits them as much as it does the fans. Without studio executives constantly hovering over their shoulders, the artists are free to develop their craft in whatever way they see fit. They can say whatever they want or breach whatever topics they want without fear of being censored. And really, what better way to gauge interest in a particular art than to sell it directly to consumers?
This business model has a long way to go before it can rid artists of the creative hindrances imposed by corporate interests, but thanks to the success of Louis CK’s Live at the Beacon Theater, at least others will see it can be done — and pay off. Who knew that bypassing old media gateways is not only possible, but profitable?
Buy Louis C.K.’s hour-long special here, and read his full blog post explaining its success here.