Louis C.K. Comedy Tour

Most folks will focus on the balance sheet as a sign of Louis C.K.’s success

The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th. 12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of [Tuesday, Dec. 13], we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58).

(Truth be told, if LCK must pay self-employment taxes, his final take will be about $75.58.)

What immediately struck me was the simplicity and usability of his Web site (although the red font on dark background was hard to read), and his approach to sharing the filmed performance on BitTorrent

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.

Louis C.K.

It’s frank and without whine. And it subtly addresses what I think is the biggest issue people miss today with respect to copyright: its utility to individual creators, as opposed to its use by multinational corporate copyright holding companies.

What fewer people will mention is the inordinate amount of work Louis C.K. needed to put in — likely for decades — to get to a point where he could benefit from making a $200,000 profit based upon $5 show sales. A performer only can pull something like this if he or she has an audience that is willing to buy the product, AND promote that product to others who may not be part of the audience.

Therefore, Louis C.K.’s success isn’t that he has profited on this single show. It’s that he survived in the business long enough to put himself in a position to profit from this single show. The next step is for him to be able to replicate this success in future shows, after the novelty has disappeared.

Written by Dr. K Matthew Dames

12/14/2011 at 07:51

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