December 15, 2011, 11:30 AM —
Add comedian Louis C.K. (Louis Szekely) to the list of entertainment industry disruptors, since he funded his own comedy special and offers it, with no digital rights management, for $5.
On his site, Louis explains how and why he created this special, and paid about $200,000 for the production and website. That doesn't count the weeks he spent editing the show himself. But rather than take about that much money from a media company who would do all the work, then release a DVD for $20 or more full of anti-piracy and regional restrictions, he put it on his website for a $5 charge through PayPal. So far, over 110,000 people have paid the five-spot, and some trying to torrent the file have been blasted for doing so. That doesn't mean there are no free copies available, but many comments say downloaders started watching, liked it, and then paid their $5.
Slaps at typical media online marketing tricks ("You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again") and pirates ("will everyone just go steal it?") notwithstanding, Louis CK joins the artists bypassing media conglomerates to go straight to their fans. And with more than reasonable pricing, $5 for an hour comedy special, Louis CK also eliminates the financial argument for piracy. Yes, Louis, things are amazing, and maybe this time people are happy.
You go, Louis
So, perhaps the dirty thieving illegal downloaders (myself included) aren't as evil as they are portrayed. And yes, I payed the $5.
Dan Livermore on techcrunch.com
When you go to the purchase screen you can choose between "contact me," and "don't contact me." To Louis' credit the default is "don't contact me," but I as a fan actually opted in to receive future notifications.
DaveMebs on news.ycombinator.com
Take that, media hogs
This is a brilliant idea. I will gladly pay a reasonable amount for quality content that is easy to download and watch at my convenience, sans DRM. I hope the entertainment industry as a whole is taking notes.
Greg Hard on techcrunch.com
Plenty of people are sure to be happy to pay $5 or more to someone who treats them like a human being instead of a thief.
Cabdriverjim on gigaom.com
Making this possible
Pirates pirate because they’re 1) cheap 2) think that they’re striking a blow against The Man 3) have the entitled expectation that all content should be free.
rick gregory on gigaom.com
But a major challenge remains, and it's this: Trent Reznor, Radiohead, and even Louis C.K. were all hugely popular and successful before they employed this model. Can the model work for lesser-known artists attempting to capture an audience?
jonnathananson on news.ycombinator.com
Is this the dawn of a new era of entertainment distribution? Not really, but it's good to see an artist take control of their own destiny, do what they consider is the right thing, and actually come out ahead.