Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In November Louis CK released his fourth full-length comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, as a direct download on his website. No distribution partner, no expensive marketing plan, no TV support, nothing but word of mouth and internet buzz. The low overhead of self-distributing the special allowed him to offer it for the unusually low price of $5. The special made over a million dollars by the end of December and is still selling strong.

Fast Company has an interesting article that explores whether or not this [insanely successful] distribution model could work for other comedians. [Illustration by Tony Millionaire.]


  1. This reminds me a bit of successful authors self-publishing. There's been a lot of talk in literary communities about the potential for someone like Stephen King to self-publish, cut out the publisher as middle-man, and keep all of his sales - and sure, that would work awesome for Stephen King.

    The thing I question is that the reason artists like Stephen King and Louis CK are able to do this is because they became famous via traditional channels - "traditional publishing" and the "traditional media," respectively. While I see the argument for allowing the artist to keep a bigger share of his or her sales, the trouble is that taking money away from these traditional channels could make it much harder for future comics, authors, musicians, etc to get that kind of exposure and publicity.

    So in a way, these guys might be the Tea Party of the entertainment industry. They rose up through a system that their predecessors paid to sustain, but now that they've found some success, they don't want to pay their share to keep that system alive.

    Or maybe I'm full of shit.

  2. Hmm, that's a really interesting perspecitve I hadn't considered before. I agree with you that self-publishing only seems to yield big results if you're already established. Although Fifty Shades of Grey was first self-published also.