Louis CK: Connecting With Fans & Giving Them A Reason To Buy By Being Polite, Awesome & Human
from the simple-as-that dept
A little over two years ago, we wrote about how (the absolutely incredibly brilliant) comedian Louis CK had gotten some news by asking politely for some fans to take down a video from a file sharing site, noting that it was new material he was working on, and he wasn’t ready for it to be seen widely yet. The request worked. Louis himself stopped by our comments to provide some more detail. Throughout the entire situation, he did what he does, and what makes people like him: just be himself — and be thankful and appreciative, while explaining his reasoning. In that case, he noted that he wasn’t against file sharing, it’s just that he didn’t want this work out in the world yet. He even said that once the same work is released officially on a DVD or special, he’d be fine with the original clips going back up on file sharing sites. He was also quite clear that he didn’t demand anyone take down any content, he just asked politely.
Given that attitude (and given plenty of other things he’s done recently) it came as little surprise that he’s released his latest “live” video directly himself off his own website, for $5 via Paypal, and is offering it with no DRM or anything like that. There are download and streaming limits, which I assume are to avoid bandwidth issues. There are a few ways he might have been able to deal with the bandwidth to offer more downloads or streams, but on the whole, he appears to be doing everything he can to make the process as simple and convenient as possible. He even put up a short note about file sharing on the page:
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.
Once again, as he did a couple years ago, it’s a polite and friendly request, not a demand or any sort of threat or anger. On top of that he explains his reasoning. In both cases, he comes across as being human, which all too often doesn’t happen with stars.
To market this release, he hit the perfect target audience for this thing, doing a Reddit IAmA discussion (basically a Q&A for those unfamiliar with Reddit). Once again, throughout that discussion he was… incredibly human, and he answered a ton of questions. Not surprisingly, it’s a really fun and interesting read.
Sometimes, when we talk about business models built around CwF+RtB (Connecting with Fans plus a Reason to Buy), people seem to falsely assume that means you absolutely have to give away all your content for free. We’ve said time and time again that that’s simply not the case at all. If you can really connect with fans, and then make it convenient and reasonable for them to support you, they will do so (as I did). And that’s exactly what Louis has done here.
I don’t think anyone doubts that the film will end up being available from unauthorized sources. It may already be available that way. Hell, I’d bet that Louis himself expected it to show up for free pretty quickly. But the point is that the people who still “pirate” the video really don’t matter. Those people were never going to pay anyway. What Louis has done, this way, is give tons of people (including plenty who normally don’t pay for content) a really good reason to buy: which is by being polite, awesome and human. Compare that to so many who are rude, mediocre and programmed.
He seems to recognize this directly in some of his comments, where he notes that he went to The Pirate Bay for the first time the day before the release, and tried to think about what to do:
I don’t know yet if I’ll do it again. It hasn’t run it’s course. But I AM SO HAPPY I DID IT. Just so fun and it has been massively gratifying to share the positive of it with so many people who have written and expressed their feelings.
The day before I posted the video I went on pirate bay, which i had never visited and i read the guy’s thign where he posts letters from media co’s and artists and then his nasty and kind of hilariously chest beating responses. I thought “jesus. This guy is a piece of work. I would NEVER tangle assholes with this guy.” and then I thought about it. What do I say to these people? To hope they don’t make me regret putting it out there naked like this? So I wrote that little “to torrent” letter, just being a guy saying “dude. please?” it’s the best I can do. If it doesn’t work, well.
I’ve talked a few times now about reasons to buy, but the more and more we see success stories, I tend to think the simple list I have above is really a key point. Being polite, awesome and human takes you a hell of a long way towards both being able to connect… and giving people a reason to buy.