Comedian Louis CK is showing us the future. On sale as of this morning is a video of his latest standup routine. It’s $5. It’s sold directly on his website. It’s without DRM.
This is the same type of special he previously would distribute via cable tv. But those options are no longer appealing to him for reasons of business, brand and creative control. Via NYTimes:
“Why should I go through a cable network when I can just give it directly to the people who want to see it? It’s so much easier, and it’s an interesting experiment.”
And indeed the experiment is live.
Will it work? (where “work” is defined as Louis – an established but not quite mainstream comedian – feeling satisfied with the outcome) My guess is yes – Louis was already selling out theaters, already has a TV show with full creative control. I think he’ll cover his costs – might not make more $ than if he sold it to cable upfront, but ultimately for the most talented folks it’s not just about the dollars. It’s about the connection with the fans, the personal satisfaction of building and the chance to stick to your guns.
As consumers, it feels shitty to pay big companies. It feels GREAT to pay creators.
Here’s Louis’ version of “legalese:”
To those who might wish to “torrent” this video: look, I don’t really get the whole “torrent” thing. I don’t know enough about it to judge either way. But I’d just like you to consider this: I made this video extremely easy to use against well-informed advice. I was told that it would be easier to torrent the way I made it, but I chose to do it this way anyway, because I want it to be easy for people to watch and enjoy this video in any way they want without “corporate” restrictions.