One of my favorite comedians, Louis CK, did a digital distribution experiment to sell his standup performance independently for only $5 on his own website and generated hundreds of thounsands of dollars within a few days, inevitably grossing over a million dollars soon after. Louis CK states on his website “So it’s been about 12 days since the thing started and yesterday we hit the crazy number. One million dollars. That’s a lot of money. Really too much money. I’ve never had a million dollars all of a sudden.”
Ari Emanuel (the real life “Ari Gold” of Entourage) once thought the idea that everyone would pay for content at a fair price was crazy. So how crazy is it really?
With recent events in piracy of content [Senate 968 “Protect IP Act” (PIPA) and H.R. 3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA)], many don’t understand one of the better strategies to combat online piracy. The focus shouldn’t be stopping piracy all together, but to make it cost more to obtain an illegal copy vs. the legal version.
Louis CK’s stand up special comes without any digital rights management. You can freely distribute it and do whatever you want with it. He’s gone so far as to also create downloadable DVD case covers and CD labels for the people who want to burn it on disc and have a physical copy. It only sells for $5. So the time it would take someone to search through a peer-to-peer network, complete the download with a risk of getting a virus, or however you would get it, just doesn’t make that option appealing anymore. The approach is different, and buy, own it, and enjoy that I directly contributed to the success of someone I am a fan of. Similar to this approach, is the recording artist Ronald Jenkees, who sells his own music through his website with use of Paypal.
One thing Ari was 100% correct on was the shift from distribution being the power to content creators. Now these content creators have the ability to distribute their content directly to the end-user, and cuts out the additional costs of all the people in between.