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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2012 @ 8:37pm

    First copy, then innovate. It's how the world works. I expect some of the pioneers of this model to try and innovate later, rather than newcomers. Newcomers will only try to innovate after this becomes a very saturated market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Keven Sutton (profile), 20 Mar 2012 @ 8:50pm

    This type of model may work for comedians who can copy, but what about all those comedians out there that can't copy?!?


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Xenophorge (profile), 20 Mar 2012 @ 8:55pm

    Ok, honest assessment here. Never heard of this guy. I check out his site, he's got a preview. I honestly didn't think his stand up was all that great. Good, I've heard much worse, but not breaking me up.

    Then at the end he's going "What, you didn't like that clip? Come on! I know there's something else in there you'd like" and that sold me. I dropped my $5, I might get around to watching it eventually, I really don't care about the material. It's the way he went about it, that was a very very human pitch, and it worked on me at least. I'll support the idea, and hope the man luck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2012 @ 11:36pm

    But!! but!!! The MPAA told us it's impossible for them to make money on the internet.

    Psychological terrorism is their favorite tool along with many others. Just look at the one asshole that suggested people that did not support PIPA/ACTA were supporters of child pornography. I mean come the fuck on! I'm for freedom of speech and all that other good shit but the asshole that tries to place millions of people in a group with pedophiles is fucking sick.

    They need to stop looking at the world in black or white terms. I mean if we all looked at it like them we would be pretty fucked up.
    It would be like saying people who take acetaminophen (Tylenol) are just as bad as a heroin junkie.

    I really hope more and more start to follow CK and hopefully in time the MPAA will cease to exist.

    Well this is one time I wish I was religious so I could tell them to burn in hell lmao. (If there was one I think it would be too good for them)
    Yeah I know it's wrong to judge others but I'm a goddamn hypocrite and I really don't care.

    In closing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      The Duder, 21 Mar 2012 @ 6:03am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 20th, 2012 @ 11:36pm

      Im with this guy! More business men need to learn good business and not rape us just so they can sit on gold toilets. Louis CK is the shit and im seeing Ansari next month should be great!

      Love Peace and Positivity

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jeu de moto, 21 Mar 2012 @ 12:06am

    Good, thanks for this article :D

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2012 @ 5:36am

    Youtube: Louis CK Channel.

    Louis CK doesn't do just "human and awesome" he does some work to get there as well, if you suddenly launch something and nobody fallows you, they don't know you that well, they don't have contact with you and you don't have nobody to tell them how awesome you are you probably don't get exposure.

    Talking about exposure.

    Geek and Sundry is the new channel from geeks to geeks, to those who don't know is the new home for The Guild( Felicia Day), a new web show with Wil Wheaton and others.

    ps: I'm a non paid fan, I know this make me suspect of being paid, but lets face it Felicia and Wheaton don't have that kind of money as of yet(I hope otherwise I'm a liar) yay!

    What really caught my eye there was the trailer for the Dark Horse Comics and the Sword and Laser.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), 21 Mar 2012 @ 7:05am

    I am waiting to pay Jim his $5...April 11th is still a long way away. Jim was awesome on the Nerdist and on Kevin Pollack's show, and I've Netflix'd him quite a bit. He isn't Louis CK, but he certainly is a great comedian.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    chelleliberty (profile), 21 Mar 2012 @ 7:14am

    $5 selling on website won't always work?


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    • icon
      chelleliberty (profile), 21 Mar 2012 @ 7:17am

      Re: $5 selling on website won't always work?

      [scraps plans for website]

      and on another note:

      [suggests that comment section allow obviously non-HTML tags such as <scraps (as in <scraps plans for website>) and just print them verbatim.]


      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2012 @ 7:55am

    High level tier.... business model patent pending

    For only $25,000 your favorite comedian X, will make fun of your wife, husband, sister, mother, father, etc.

    Just provide the names of the people you want made fun of, some personal embarrassing moments, and some personal/relevant details about the individual (and a waiver of all liability for anything said)....

    This business model is patent pending... what business models aren't patentable.... DAMN foiled again

    I don't know about you, but if I had the money, I would have paid to have George Carlin 'roast' my family.... if we can't laugh at ourselves, we may as well give up and quit now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DandonTRJ (profile), 21 Mar 2012 @ 11:25am

    I'm with you on the tiers. I just bought the special from Ansari, and he has his Twitter feed on the page, the most recent of which seems to be "Download the video, hit play, close your eyes. RT @calebteaches Is there any way to download an audio-only version of the special?" All jokes aside, why isn't that an option? Charge $3.00 for an audio-version of the special, or $1.00 if you've already bought the video. There are more aspects of these specials waiting to be monetized by savvy comedians, and more models waiting to be tried. I'm waiting for someone to release a special in 20-minute segments, and as enough people purchase each segment, the next one is unlocked for purchase. Have a 100-minute special, 5 segments, have each tier unlocked at 50,000 purchases, bring in at least $200k by the time the full special is unlocked (assuring a minimum level of pre-piracy monetization), and rewards are given to those who buy early (access to download the full, single-segment special, obviously, plus maybe bonus cuts). Come on, comedians. Show us your creativity off the stage!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2012 @ 2:33pm

    My problem is that I always seem to find out about these things too late. As you said in the article, they are usually presented with limited or no marketing, press, or ads. There isn't a central location to find out what's happening on the net.

    This model seems to be working with video as well; Dr. Horrible's Sing A Long Blog was able to pay it's bills and DVD's are now available. The Confession with Keifer Sutherland aired on Hulu and now on DVD also made money.

    I just would like to find out about this stuff sooner and on a regular basis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Silence8, 21 Mar 2012 @ 6:36pm

    Reddit AMA

    Aziz is currently doing an AMA (Ask me anything) on Reddit right now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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