Distribution: Louis C.K. Tears Down the Wall

MLK Tore Down Many a Wall

All the Big Guys have been looking for a distribution model that makes money online. Sure, Amazon and eBay have been huge successes, but record companies and movie studios have had at best a lukewarm relationship with the Net. See the ludicrous SOPA act for proof.

Then along comes comedian Louis C.K. to create an impressive video production and distribution model. Haven’t heard of him? Either had I until all the buzz, and now he’s grossed over a cool $ 1 million in about two weeks. The idea is fairly simple on paper:

  1. Decide you want to record one of your stand-up gigs, in this case “Live at Beacon Theater“.
  2. Pay for production yourself – about $170,000.
  3. Post the video on your website and charge a reasonable price for download – 5 bucks.
  4. Tell your 897,000 fans about it on twitter, and ask them nicely not to rip it off: “Please don’t torrent this video. I paid for the whole thing with my own stupid money.”
  5. Participate in a few online forums and Q+A sessions, and let your fans spread the word and handle all your PR.
  6. Become a model for future distribution strategies = Purchase, not Pirate.

Louis C.K. avoided the studio system all-together, which he said would have paid him less than $200,000, and went straight to his fan base. The result is all the middlemen were cut out: the many layers of studios, marketing teams, distributors, and retailers – each that would have taken a piece of the pie. Red Tape was avoided all-together.

What he did seems so simple: provide a good product at a reasonable price. But the real magic was in connection. Engaging his audience in an honest and straightforward way. Creating a relationship his fans wanted to pay for. And, of course, being funny.

And the kicker? He gave almost $300,000 of the proceeds to charity and another $250,000 to his staff. The remainder is being used to fund another show. Which points to a bird of an all together different feather.

What sort of content could you try this with?






Author: Chris Donaldson

Chris Donaldson is Executive Producer at HCFmedia. Can film making change the world? The Short Answer: Yes.

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