Louis C.K. releases new stand-up special on the ‘Net, launches a user-friendly website to self-promote it
On December 10 comedian Louis C.K. released a new stand-up special to his fans. The special contains brand new, never before seen material and was shot over two performances at the Beacon Theater in New York City. Louie directed, produced, and edited the video himself, just like he does on his FX show Louie. Instead of working with a big company to promote and distribute the 62-minute special, Louie developed his own website to do all the heavy lifting. In an open letter to his fans and the public at large, he explained his “‘experiment” like this:
If I put out a brand new standup special at a drastically low price ($5) and make it as easy as possible to buy, download and enjoy, free of any restrictions, will everyone just go and steal it? Will they pay for it? And how much money can be made by an individual in this manner?
In a couple words, his experiment was a raging success. In just four days Louie posted a $200,000 profit. In the open letter he shared the costs that went into the making of the special; namely the production of the video ($170,000) and the construction of the simplistic website ($32,000). In the first 12 hours of the website being live, the special saw 50,000 purchases and earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and the website. Three days later 110,000 copies had sold for a total of over $500,000. In the letter Louis goes on to explain how in a typical situation a big company would have charged customers around $20 for the special and restrictions like limited reply value, encryption, and international availability would apply. By self-distributing his special, Louie was able to keep the price of entry low, the purchase experience delightful, and best of all once it’s purchased you can watch it over and over no matter where you are in the world. Also, Louie made a crapload of money. In his own words:
I really hope people keep buying it a lot, so I can have shitloads of money, but at this point I think we can safely say that the experiment really worked. If anybody stole it, it wasn’t many of you. Pretty much everybody bought it. And so now we all get to know that about people and stuff. I’m really glad I put this out here this way and I’ll certainly do it again. If the trend continues with sales on this video, my goal is that i can reach the point where when I sell anything, be it videos, CDs or tickets to my tours, I’ll do it here and I’ll continue to follow the model of keeping my price as far down as possible, not overmarketing to you, keeping as few people between you and me as possible in the transaction.
Let’s hope that other comedians and even the entertainment industry as a whole takes notice of Louie’s grand experiment. A fundamental shift in the way companies distribute content to customers is needed if said companies want people to stop illegally torrenting movies, music, and TV shows. If they can figure out how to do it the Louis way, the world will be a better place for it.
Head over to https://buy.louisck.net/ and the But The Thing button to easily purchase the stand-up special via PayPal for five bucks. And if you’re interested in reading Louie’s candid statement, click here.
Update: In a new statement issued on the website, Louis announced that he hit the $1 million mark in sales. Insane, right? Now because he’s not a greedy man, here’s what he plans on doing with all the money. 250K “is going to pay back what the special cost to produce and the website to build;” a “second 250k is going back to my staff and the people who work for me on the special and on my show;” 280k “is going to [four] different charities;” and Louis is going to keep 220k for himself. “Some of that will pay my rent and will care for my children,” he explains. “The rest I will do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business. In any case, to me, 220k is enough out of a million.” Read the statement in full here. Way to go, Louis.