Posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
I don’t need to restate my appreciation for Louis C.K. today; I went pretty much all-out two days ago when first talking about the promo push the comic is doing for his new self-released stand-up special Live at the Beacon Theater. He wrote, directed, edited and released the special himself, offering it up to stream or download for a price of $5 on his own website. Louis C.K. has been calling the project a huge experiment.
Seems like the experiment has been a successful one. In a statement released last night, he says he broke even twelve hours after putting the show up for download, and as of last night had sold 110,000 copies. So after costs were recouped and other fees paid, he’s looking at a profit of $200k — enough to do this again.
Read some of his statement below.
You can find the whole statement here, but these are some of the most important bits:
…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. (Of course i reserve the right to go back on all of this and sign a massive deal with a company that pays me fat coin and charges you straight up the ass.). (This is you: yes Louie. And we’ll all enjoy torrenting that content. You fat sweaty dolt).
Though part of me wants to do so, this isn’t the part where I’ll get all starry-eyed and think that this is part of the start of consumers truly valuing the work of a creator, enough so that they pay for it instead of stealing.
The truth is that, as was the case when Radiohead did their own similar experiment a few years back, Louis C.K. is in a unique position. He’s one of the biggest comic names around right now, with a hit show and a whole lot of people in the media willing to talk to him or (like me) evangelize for him. Not everyone has that. Not all that many people could put out a show for five bucks and make half a million dollars within days.
But this is still a cool thing, and it is part of the early movement of a wave that will probably take a long time to really crest, but which could eventually see many more creators able to be successful with a similar business model.