More Comedians Following Louis CK's Path... But They Don't Need To Copy It Exactly

from the branch-out-a-little,-experiment dept

We've talked a lot about Louis CK's success with being open, human and awesome in going direct to his fans with a DRM-free offering. It's not surprising now to see a few other forward-looking comics follow suit. Last month a few folks passed along Jim Gaffigan's plans to do something really similar to Louis (with a hat tip to Louis for inspiring him). The latest is that Aziz Ansari has decided to do the same thing (worth noting for our crowd: Ansari was also a vocal opponent of SOPA -- and he's been known to occasionally tweet Techdirt stories, not to mention the fact that he's really, really funny).

In all three cases, while the "deal" is the same -- $5 paid direct off the website -- they're also are done in a very personable and human way. They weren't announced with press releases, but direct appeals to true fans. As I've been saying, that's a big part of the reason why Louis's offering was such a success. It also helps, of course, that all three of these guys are well-established comics who are known for being at the top of the game, and are widely considered some of the best comics out there.

The one thing that concerns me a little about this is the fact that the deal terms are identical. I can understand why they're doing this. It's basically "don't mess with what worked for Louis." But I worry that the message people are getting is "$5 direct offering off a website is the secret." I don't think that's it. Lots of people have offered up a product for download off their website for a variety of prices. The key to making it work is not just the pricing. It's the way the offering is presented. I think it would be even cooler if some of these comedians experimented a bit more with branching out creatively around this business model. It wouldn't be hard, for example, to build on what various musicians have done, and offer up different tiers of support. Or something else. The real opportunity here is in how it's presented -- in a way that treats fans as fans, rather than assuming they're criminals or that there needs to be a big impersonal gatekeeper in-between the fans and the artist. But, unfortunately, some are going to look at these experiments and say "the lesson" is "$5 off your website is the secret." And when that doesn't work for some content creators, they're not going to understand why.

Overall, however, I'm really excited to see more content creators going direct, cutting out gatekeepers, and recognizing that treating fans well is a good start to any smart business model.

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  1. icon
    UriGagarin (profile), 21 Mar 2012 @ 1:43am

    Not the only guy to try different things

    In the UK the comedian Richard Herring did something similar - gave away the podcast for free as a download and charged folks to go to the live performance.

    The was called As It Occurs To Me a free wheeling weekly sketch and stand show where it was about things that 'occured' to Richard that week. So it was an hour of new material every week of the run.

    He ran it for 3 series (plus special shows). It sort of worked - he wasn't getting huge amounts of money as he had cast to pay but it definitely got a bit of a following in the UK. And he did get recognition for it - a Chortle Award.

    Richard decided to pull the plug mostly due to the insane demands of trying to write something like that in 2 days on top of his normal touring and performances.

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