Focus on making it easy to buy, not hard to steal – Louis CK did…and it paid off

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For several years there has been a steady drumbeat of stories of how artists and entertainers are having their work stolen and how the Internet has ruined their ability to make a living.  Yes. it has changed things.

In the wake of Napster, there were many stories about how things have changed forever and people will never pay for music again.  As it turns out, people would pay for music, if it was easy and it was digital.  Just ask Apple.  The iTunes Music Store is how music is sold now.  Same with Amazon.

Now, how about if you’re a comedian?  Your bits show up online all the time, but that doesn’t pay you. Promote you? Yes. Pay the rent? No.

Louis CK is no longer a “struggling comic,” he has a hit show and tours big venues. But like most comedians he relied on others to be able to make money.  Venue owners. A cable company to produce and show a comedy special.  Then he went another way. He hired a production team, and shot his show over two nights. Then he made it available on his own site at with as he says,”No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap. You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever.”  All that for $5.

You think it’ll work? How about 110,000 times since Saturday.

Tonight he posted a statement on his site with a little more detail. First, he begins it with an address to “People of Earth.”  A nod to the Cluetrain?  I hope so. Because the Cluetrain thinking is all over this.  My favorite part:

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.

This is what everyone said the Internet was going to be about. Making it easy for people exchange ideas, goods etc.  So, if you have something of value, make it easy for people to buy, trust them, and you’ll do alright.  Oh, it also helps if you’re really funny too.


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