Louis CK, the comedian, tried an experiment this past weekend. He taped his concert at New York’s Beacon Theater then put it on line charging $5 per download. It’s a bold move. There’s no distributor other than Louis himself. There’s no encryption or protection to keep you (or me) from making copies or posting the concert online.
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.
Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I’m just some guy. 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.
By eliminating layers of middlemen he’s made it easier for $5 purchases to make sense on his end. On a Reddit.com AMA Louis said,
it’s worked well so far. it’s far from over. so i don’t know everything yet. I haven’t even started promoting it. I’m doing a lot of press in the next few weeks. so we’ll see what impact that has if any.
Gigaom.com isn’t as optimistic.
As one might expect, not everyone was ready to hand over $5 for the standup special, and the file quickly found its way onto torrent sites like The Pirate Bay.
Right now they’re reporting 500 torrent seeds characterized as a “sizable” number.
This is not a first. Glenn Beck’s exit from Fox to his own online GBTV is a similar path. It’s easier for a business to make money if one person is doing multiple jobs and doesn’t have to share with superfluous intermediary bosses. It has appeal especially if you already have popularity.
Other the past few years the cost of entry into video production has dropped like a rock. My cellphone shoots video that’s as good or better than what we used to shoot for TV! Studio facilities that might have cost seven figures are now five figures.
What TV stations and networks bring to the table is tonnage. People watch Fox. People watch HBO. The networks have enough cashflow to aggressively promote their programs. Can Louis CK do the same?
The bar for financial success has been lowered. I am anxious to hear Louis read in a few weeks. This has the potential to change everything!