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Louis CK's Internet Experiment Pays Off

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the honor-system dept.

Businesses 309

redletterdave writes "Comedian Louis C.K., real name Louis Szekely, took a major risk by openly selling his latest stand-up special, 'Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater,' for only $5 on his website and refusing to put any DRM restrictions on the video, which made it easily susceptible to pirating and torrenting. Four days later, Louis CK's goodwill experiment has already paid off: The 44-year-old comic now reports making a profit of about $200,000, after banking more than $500,000 in revenue from the online-only sale. The special, which has sold 110,000 copies so far, is only available on Louis CK's website."

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Pirate attitude (5, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376536)

Louis CK said in an NPR interview [npr.org] earlier this week:

"And a friend of mine who does torrent stuff a lot says that when torrent users do buy something, they act like they're doing the greatest thing ever. ... They're saying, 'I bought something today. I paid for it. And I didn't steal it. I'm the greatest person alive.' "

I've noticed this attitude as well. It's really, really annoying.

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376610)

No, the attitude I see more often is "This thing is so good and so reasonably priced -- I *paid* for it."

Re:Pirate attitude (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376646)

To pirates, the only "reasonable price" is free.

Re:Pirate attitude (4, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376682)

The evidence doesn't support your waggery.

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Insightful)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376850)

it's a bit of a problem though... Louis' experiment was a matter of tentatively finding the threholds involved.

basically, though a lot of people are willing to pay for something out of goodwill, there'll always be arseholes that have no good will and will take anything they can because they can.

people steal from charity shops you know... even though the prices are insanely low and the store itself is not for profit, and in many cases the store is affiliated with a charity that will give the same items to poor people, some cunt will actually take stuff for free.

arseholes are why we can't have nice things.

Louis' experiment (and wikipedia's, and radiohead's, etc) is whether one can make a living in spite of the small percent of people that are just cunts for cunting's sake. it looks like there's enough decent people out there to make a living. but one can be forgiven for thinking "you know, if those people had shelled out a measly 5 bucks, i could have made so much more".

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377032)

The arseholes aren't going to pay for it either way. Charging more money and adding DRM is only going to drive the non-arseholes towards arseholish behavior. This is why Ubisoft can't make money in the PC gaming area any more: no one wants to pay for that shit. People will gladly pay, if they get their moneys worth.

Hell, the newest Humble Bundle made over a million in it's first day. No DRM, no minimum price. I paid 20 bucks (although I did send most to charity: first time I've almost felt bad sending money to charity, since I also wanted to pay the developers), well over the average required for the extra games. People will pay for things. Provided the person they are buying it from doesn't insult them, especially not while they are being paid

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Insightful)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377288)

this is my point exactly - pricks will not buy at any price. not because "bawww i'm so poor"... they're on the internet. their basic needs are clearly met (food, shelter, safety), so they can't bleat about being poor. it's a matter of get it or go without. if they go without, they should spend the time they would have spent watching doing something productive.

the good thing about offering it for a very small price is precisely calling the bluff - knowing that people will steal no matter what, but doing the maths on whether you can break even or make a modest profit in spite of that.

Louie's overheads are low - he paid for shooting it, and web hosting, and all the rest he does himself. there's no distributor, he didn't use a post house, all mastering was done in files rather than tapes. you save tens of thousands by doing it yourself.

a feature film might be able to do this, but it'd need enough marketing to get the film out there, and it'd need a low budget. something like Avatar couldn't survive this way (even if it was a good movie instead of a smurf handjob fest).

Re:Pirate attitude (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377274)

Not everybody needs to pay. Requiring that is just stupid and misses the point. What is required is that the bottom-line is enough to motivate and fund the artist(s) involved. Depending on the product and the price point, acceptable fraction of paying customers between 1% and 90% can be acceptable. 10% egoists should never be a problem. Of course, with bad products, you can get 0% paying customers, because they will feel defrauded.

To paraphrase the CEO of Borland decades back (when they were sending out Turbo Pascal 3.0 with full money-back if you did not like it even for opened packages): "Yes, it is being pirated. We estimate 2 pirated copies for every one sold. But why should we care, our revenue from this product is great!" Of course this attitude will never be rational to a greedy corporate manager. But it should make a lot of sense to an artist. And greedy corporate managers do not produce anything of worth to the human race, but artists do. So I know very much which side I want to win and it seems it it now has a real shot at winning.

But here is the real point: If DRM makes me feel defrauded (and it recently did again), then I will look for DRM-free alternatives.

Re:Pirate attitude (4, Insightful)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376876)

Indeed, the more accurate statement is to "some" pirates. The video was not completely unpirated. But there is no condition that non-piracy can happen. The type of pirate that will only watch it for free will only watch it for free, even if they have to settle for an image made by a camera recording a TV screen. (even crappy recordings of movies in theaters get lots of downloads, if every method of DRM on DVDs and downloads hasn't easily been cracked, we'd see the same thing)

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377000)

The evidence doesn't support my waggery? Are you not aware of Pirate Bay, the Pirate Party, etc.? This thing from Louis CK already has several thousand downloads on Demonoid, and that's just a private tracker.

Pirates want shit for free. They refuse to acknowledge this basic human trait and cover it up with a bunch of freedom fighter bullshit. It's very simple and obvious--humans like to get things for free. To make themselves not feel guilty about it, they blame everything else but themselves--software publishers, the RIAA, Microsoft, copyright law, etc. I realize that Slashdot has become a piracy advocacy site in the last 10 years, but just because your opinion is patted on the back all the time at this one website doesn't mean it's true.

If you're a pirate, just admit reality and say you want to acquire things without having to pay for them. It's so much more respectable than the usual coverup.

Re:Pirate attitude (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377190)

Watch this get modded down because you dared to challenge the /.er attitude of entitlement: "Everything, everywhere gratis and libre on my terms and on your dollar or I take it anyway."

Re:Pirate attitude (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377230)

And just because you don't understand someone else's reasons doesn't invalidate them.

As if you knew the first fucking thing about any of this, you big fucking hypocritcal sack of horseshit.

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Insightful)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377236)

I think there's definitely more to it than you're portraying.

Look at me, for example: In 1999, I spoke out on my (crappy) website against game publishers not selling games and forcing me into the second hand market. At the time, I was more than happy to steal anything I wanted, because I couldn't get the right product at the right price and easy to buy and use.

Fast forward 10 years, and I've spent hundreds of dollars at GOG.COM, where they have the right product at the right price and easy to buy and use. I've bought well over 100 games, more than I could possibly play in a very long time, specifically because I so strongly believe that a company fulfilling their end of the bargain deserves to be rewarded.

Those dollars and cents on GOGs balance sheet, is that freedom fighter bullshit?

Re:Pirate attitude (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376674)

Most people, if they can't (or more likely, don't want to) afford something, don't get it.

Re:Pirate attitude (2)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376730)

You sure none of them borrow it from a friend or a library? I've seen that a lot.

Re:Pirate attitude (2)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376728)

Seconded. I happen to buy a lot of books too, and i am even reading them, but i am simply not going to pay $15 for the hard cover book, not now, not later, not ever. Put a reasonable price, and if i like it, i will buy it. And there is one thing that a lot of torrent-haters does not realize: You may download 1000 books/movies/shows, but you cannot watch them all, and soon You realize that your time is so precious and limited, that You are willing to actually pay for well spent time. And of course to demand pay back for the garbage they force you to read/watch.

Re:Pirate attitude (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376886)

"You may download..."
"they force you to read/watch."

logic bomb! aaargh! my brain!

Re:Pirate attitude (2)

wickedskaman (1105337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376890)

Who is forcing you to read or watch anything? :'-( You should report their actions to the proper authorities post haste!! ~:-O

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Funny)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377200)

Who is forcing you to read or watch anything? :'-( You should report their actions to the proper authorities post haste!! ~:-O

It involves Beethoven and eye drops, my dobby droog.

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Insightful)

rkfig (1016920) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377224)

So you haven't experienced the DVDs that force you to sit through previews by disabling skip and fast forward functionality. How nice for you.

Re:Pirate attitude (2)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377130)

I think the implication is that people may say such things, but it's really to make themselves feel better, as if they're "making up" for piracy.

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Insightful)

DC2088 (2343764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376638)

Agreed - if you're going to pirate for reasons of "overpriced ____" or "label ____ is getting all the money", consider artists who do this stuff ON THEIR OWN with no serious corporate ties in the production or who are part of itty-bitty labels (Protomen, Devin Townsend, recent NIN, KMFDM come to mind) if you're REALLY against the whole "corporate conglomerate of music" thing .. Or hey, get Spotify. You're paying, what, $5 a month there, AFTER your free trial? I get why piracy exists, but there are artists I will give my money to without a second thought for a number of reasons. But the wrong attitude is to then act like you're the moral superior.

Re:Pirate attitude (5, Interesting)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377304)

The "moral superior" attitude comes from paying someone who actually deserves it, as opposed to paying the MAFIAA who create nothing themselves and charge 5 times what something is actually worth, while passing on next to nothing to the people who actually did the work.

I'll gladly pay an artist if his work deserves it, but I'll be damned if I help enable the abusive greedy behavior of the content cartels. They can go fuck themselves.

Like the Shareware days (2)

John3 (85454) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376742)

Back in the days of Shareware there was a similar attitude from people who actually paid the software author. Part of that was encouraged by the authors, they would list people that had purchased their program or thank them personally. The big difference today is the people who created the stuff that is being "shared" via torrent are usually so distantly removed from the purchase that they don't realize or care that some geek bought their CD or DVD. So there is no longer a recognition from the creator of the work (Bono emails the guys....."Thanks for buying my CD!"), which means the purchaser (former thief) doesn't get any thanks or acknowledgement from the artist and instead must toot his/her own horn.

That's why I like buying product directly from the artist whenever possible, via their website or even at a live show (yes, many artists sell CD's and other merchandise after their shows). I plan on sending Louis CK $5 even if I only watch his video once, mainly because I think it's a great idea and I want other artists to try the same thing (plus he's funny as hell).

John

Re:Pirate attitude (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376864)

That's why I torrented that shit.

Re:Pirate attitude (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376888)

Habitual pirates buy spend more on media than those who don't pirate AND they are happier with their purchases. Isn't this a good thing?

Re:Pirate attitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377026)

Eh attitude is an opinion. Doesn't matter in the big picture or the long run. Don't be bothered by it. Seriously.

Re:Pirate attitude (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377070)

Just curious -- I wonder if you could do a psychological study and see if the "good feeling" a pirate gets from paying for something legitimately is like the good feeling non-pirates get by donating to charity. Which might reveal something about the pirate's view of the media they pirate -- that it's charity or something.

Re:Pirate attitude (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377290)

Louis CK said in an NPR interview earlier this week:

"And a friend of mine who does torrent stuff a lot says that when torrent users do buy something, they act like they're doing the greatest thing ever. ... They're saying, 'I bought something today. I paid for it. And I didn't steal it. I'm the greatest person alive.' "

I've noticed this attitude as well. It's really, really annoying.

Funny you mentioned NPR. I find my friends who donate to PBS/NPR to do the same sort of snobbery.

I'm shocked! (5, Insightful)

Above (100351) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376588)

When you give consumers a product that they want, at a price they find fair, in a form factor (format) that is convenient for them, in a location that is convenient for them, they are happy to pay for it!

Re:I'm shocked! (4, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376642)

It's a shame that professional publishers, with very few exceptions, don't realize that.

Re:I'm shocked! (5, Interesting)

isonline (684583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376686)

Oh the professional publishers do! They also realize that if they control the channels they can pay the actual author a pittance as well as make a greater profit off the higher prices paid by the non-pirates and the fees that the extort out of the people they attempt to drag into court.

Re:I'm shocked! (2)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376786)

They not only "CAN", but they are actually "DOING" it.

Re:I'm shocked! (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376802)

Exaactly. Their business methods relate to them being the controlling middleman, and profiting handsomely.

Re:I'm shocked! (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376706)

I think they do realize that - and I think they realize that in many of these models there's no box for "publisher" at all. They're not fighting for artists or consumers, they're fighting for their own existence.

If Louis just sells stuff from his website to people, there's not a lot of other people who get to feed off that.

Re:I'm shocked! (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376952)

In Louis' case, no, there aren't, because he does virtually everything himself. In a lot of other cases there are actors, editors, producers, sound guys, promoters, etc who may also expect to get a cut from the profits. The publisher would get a cut by bringing all of those people together and producing the final package. So, yeah, their cut goes from 50% or whatever they're making now, down to about 10% or whatever finder's fees are going for these days. But I think there's a strong argument that, not only will volume make up for part of that, but this is actually a sustainable business model. The model they're trying to cling to is no longer sustainable. They either need to set their sights a little lower, or actually start producing valuable things themselves instead of trying to profit off the people who are. Tough shit.

Re:I'm shocked! (5, Insightful)

mistiry (1845474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376740)

Took me a minute to decide to comment, or mod up.

I will NOT pay $20+ for a DVD full of DRM/malware. If I purchase something, it is mine. I will not subject myself to corporate restrictions on what I can do with my own property. I have gladly paid for DRM-free songs and movies, and will continue to do so as long as my rights to my own property are not encroached upon.

I have even donated more than asked to independent artists, simply because I feel that they deserved to be compensated for producing something I enjoyed.

The typical pirate's attitude is not "yay, everything's free!".

Should $CORPORATION decide to release their movies for a reasonable price and allow me to download it immediately via BitTorrent, here's my Visa.

Re:I'm shocked! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377140)

I will NOT pay $20+ for a DVD full of DRM/malware.

Honestly, if someone took the time to obtain, organize, and catalog enough DRM/malware to fill an entire DVD, I'd pay $20 for it out of pure curiosity. Maybe add in writeups for each piece included, describe them, tell their histories, who wrote them (if known), etc, etc. Would make a neat archive, really.

Re:I'm shocked! (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377228)

For me, that was sort-of what Netflix was for -- a way to leverage the internet to watch movies immediately, legitimately, for what I considered a reasonable price. Alas, it never really lived up to the hype. But I'm still a member, hoping the selection gets better.

Re:I'm shocked! (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377268)

Yup. Recently discovered this band MAYDAY! (maydayonline.com) and even though I could find all of their music on Youtube and rip it from there (and already had for dozens of theirs songs), as soon as I found them for sale on their website (bandcamp), I bought every one of them. Why? It's easier than ripping from youtube, they give you any format you could possibly want (FLAC, MP3, AAC, Ogg, even ALAC [wtf is ALAC?]) and you can download them instantly for only $5. Worth it. And I know I'm actually supporting the artist, unlike an RIAA label purchase.

I'll gladly pay if I know it's actually supporting the artist. But what I WON'T do is pay mony that I know will go towards suing their fans. Or pay the same price as a physical CD for an online download. Or pay $20 for a five track EP.

Re:I'm shocked! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376770)

Two things: He's admitted that he's making less money than if he did it the normal route, so it's at best him paying hundreds of thousands for good PR and at worst charity on his part. Second, the reason why this works as well as it does for him (or Radiohead) is because he's a known quantity. You can buy the thing without seeing it and be pretty sure that if you like Louis CK you're going to like this -- especially because, as a fan, the dude's been killing it consistently for at least a few years now.* (Yeah, I'm sure you can find it on torrent, but many people don't torrent anything. Including me, and lots of middle aged guys who Louis appeals to.)

* I'd put his TV show with Community for the two best comedies on TV, although much of it's because they also challenge the format while they're being funny.

Re:I'm shocked! (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377278)

> He's admitted that he's making less money than if he did it the normal route,

Did he as an individual truly make less money, or did the *title* make less money? There's a huge difference, when you're forced to work through a publishing company.

And even if *he* made less money, (which I suspect was not true over the long term) isn't nearly a quarter million enough for one performance? [1] How much is enough?

[1] or one set of performances at one place with one set of material, if you wish, because these types of discs are usually a "best takes" montage.

Re:I'm shocked! (2)

rkfig (1016920) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377298)

Actually, he was quoted in the NPR interview as saying: "'I've never seen a check from a [TV] comedy special,' he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. 'It never ends up being that.'" All of that money ends up in the studios pocket is how I understood that. In a matter of four days he has netted $200k on this deal. I do agree that it worked for him because he already had the necessary fan base though.

Re:I'm shocked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376792)

Correction: When you plead to your devoted fans to donate money, they'll do it. This thing is already getting pirated like crazy on PirateBay and Demonoid. Louis CK is already successful and established. Let's see someone just starting out attempt this and find out if they make $500,000 in 4 days.

That's one of the reasons I never understood all the praise heaped on Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead for their "pay what you want" albums. They were already successful acts and didn't have to worry about revenue anymore. Louis CK has a hit TV show and has done years of comedy tours as well as writing for other shows.

Re:I'm shocked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376928)

What happened to Stephen King (someone already successful and established) attempting to release his book online in a serial format on the honour system and it ending up as a failed project? I'd argue that his readership likely has money to blow on an experiment like that as well.

What separated Stephen King's experiment from Louis CK's?

Re:I'm shocked! (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377096)

What separated Stephen King's experiment from Louis CK's?

Stephen King's book was a decade ago, before everyone had e-readers.

Re:I'm shocked! (5, Insightful)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377014)

Someone just starting out has no reasonable expectation to make $500,000 in 4 days. Someone just starting out should be absolutely thrilled if he makes $500 in 4 days. In fact, someone just starting out should be pretty darn happy to be making any money at all in the first 4 days after release.

But that's precisely the whole problem with our IP system in the US. People think that just because they produced some content they should be entitled to loads of wealth, both immediately as well as for the rest of their life for one thing they spent probably less than 100 hours producing.

I could go on, but that's probably enough for now.

Re:I'm shocked! (1)

mmarlett (520340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376812)

When you give consumers a product that they want, at a price they find fair, in a form factor (format) that is convenient for them, in a location that is convenient for them, they are happy to pay for it!

Yep. I bought it right away when I saw it online the other day. I started watching it on my computer but transferred it to my PS3 for big screen entertainment. Im watching it right now.

fat pipe (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376822)

There were people in NYC getting like 750 kbps download. Ain't no way you'd see that when torrenting.. or even using megavideo's paid version. Very much : Want. Click. Have.

Re:fat pipe (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376906)

I get 2.7 - 3 MBps when I torrent.

Yes, Bytes.

Re:fat pipe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376914)

yeah, but it my case the download was very slow, so after paying for it, I ended up torrenting it anyway. It is great! Shit, I feel like paying him again...

Re:I'm shocked! (1)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376862)

When you give consumers a product that they want, at a price they find fair, in a form factor (format) that is convenient for them, in a location that is convenient for them, they are happy to pay for it!

...and, by extension, if you don't offer it at a price they find fair, in a form factor that is convenient for them, or in a location that is convenient for them, then there are surprising numbers of consumers out there who think that the appropriate (and sometimes even moral) response is "therefore, I am happy to stiff you and get it free off the Internet", not "therefore, I will not pay you any of my money and go without your overpriced, poorly distributed wares."

Re:I'm shocked! (0)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377206)

That's right, there are a lot of people out there who insist on consuming their content in the way they want to. A lot of people refuse to be forced into doing something that they don't want to do just to get the content they're looking for.

A specific example, from the last time I pirated anything: a few years ago I got Fallout 3 when it came out. I bought the collector pack retail (as opposed to Steam) so I could get the sweet lunchbox and bobblehead, and just because I'm a big Fallout fan and feel warm and fuzzy when I hold the original disc in my hand. Several months later various downloadable content got released. I wanted all of the DLC, but I realized that the only way for me to get this content was to purchase it through Microsoft Games For Windows Live. That meant that I needed to create an account with Microsoft, give them my payment information, log into the service when I wanted to play, get spam and other ads from them, be marketed to, etc. That's not what I wanted, I just wanted the content for Fallout 3. My only other option to get the content was to download it through BitTorrent, so I installed a client and did that. I would have preferred that my money went to the people who developed the content that I enjoy, but since I was not able to use the content like I wanted I found another way.

That's the point: people will not break down and be forced to use content some way that they don't want to. They're going to use the content like they want, whatever it takes to make that happen. The content publishers can cut the impact of piracy in half over night if they just let people use things the way they want to. Most people WILL pay for it, especially if it "just works", on anything they want to watch it on. Pay for it online, download it to my computer, burn it to a DVD and watch it on the big screen, why would I not do that if they would only let me?

Right now, if I get the urge to download a season of Boardwalk Empire or Sons Of Anarchy, burn it to a DVD, and watch it on my TV, what's my only option?

Re:I'm shocked! (5, Insightful)

theweatherelectric (2007596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376892)

When you give consumers a product that they want, at a price they find fair, in a form factor (format) that is convenient for them, in a location that is convenient for them, they are happy to pay for it!

The hard part is making that happen in the first place. From the article:

Louis CK used the $500,000 to pay off several costs, including the $170,000 it took to produce the show, and the $32,000 he spent on building and editing his own website.

Leaving aside the possibility of people acquiring the video without paying for it, he had $300,000 of costs (they don't indicate where the other $100,000 went, maybe the $202,000 figure mentioned was the up front cost and the next $98,000 was distribution). Sure, he could have perhaps found a lower cost way to distribute it but it's still $170,000 in production costs. Part of the deal with publishers of any kind is that they're taking on the risk of producing it. If it doesn't sell it's them who will be losing money, not the author or act or band, etc. In this case, Louis CK put himself in a position where he would potentially lose $170,000 at the minimum. It's only established acts who have the opportunity to take that sort of risk.

Re:I'm shocked! (1)

Above (100351) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377192)

Leaving aside the possibility of people acquiring the video without paying for it, he had $300,000 of costs (they don't indicate where the other $100,000 went, maybe the $202,000 figure mentioned was the up front cost and the next $98,000 was distribution). Sure, he could have perhaps found a lower cost way to distribute it but it's still $170,000 in production costs. Part of the deal with publishers of any kind is that they're taking on the risk of producing it. If it doesn't sell it's them who will be losing money, not the author or act or band, etc. In this case, Louis CK put himself in a position where he would potentially lose $170,000 at the minimum. It's only established acts who have the opportunity to take that sort of risk.

The costs you site are at best loosely coupled to the price of the show, and in many cases not coupled at all.

Round numbers, let's say there was $300k of costs and $200k of profit. In this case Louis took on all the costs, and took home all the profit.

He could have gone to some finance person (anyone from a bank to a full blown producer, and lots of folks in the middle) and cut a deal like perhaps, finance person puts up $300k, Louis and Finance person split the profits 50/50. Now finance person is out the $300k, ends up making $100k (33% ROI in 6-12 months, not bad, check out t-bills these days), and Louis nets $100k. Of course he never had to come up with the $300k.

Thing is, this is the same $500k. Same sales price, same distribution method, same no-DRM, same folks buying. The fact that the production deal changed didn't change the sales price or gross revenue. There's still room for producers and financiers, they just need to stop thinking that the fact they brought $300k to the table means they can dictate to the end consumer DRM, or double the price.

Re:I'm shocked! (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377166)

But the question is whether these experimental results can be reproduced.

Re:I'm shocked! (4, Insightful)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377232)

Being literally the funniest man alive doesn't hurt.

I like it! (2)

karmicoder (2205760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376604)

Every time an artist does something like this, it pays off greatly. Think Humble Indy Bundle. Yet all the major publishers claim they'd be bankrupted? Pirates gonna pirate. Haters gonna hate. Don't screw over your legitimate users with malware!

Re:I like it! (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376836)

To be fair, games with multi-million dollar budgets like Skrym probably could bankrupt a studio if they released it with no restrictions whatsoever. Software piracy is one of the reasons the games industry abandoned the PC and moved to consoles. I remember id Software stating that pre-release piracy of Doom 3 on the PC cost them millions of dollars.

Re:I like it! (4, Insightful)

karmicoder (2205760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377042)

I have yet to see any DRM that noticeably effects piracy rates. Hell, I suspect it sometimes increases piracy rates. Assassin's Creed II was the most pirated game at the time, despite Ubisoft's draconian always-online DRM. The only good it seemed to do was piss off legitimate users, especially media darlings like combat soldiers, who often have flaky satellite connections... if they're lucky. When the pirated copy of a game is superior to the legitimate copy, that's going to hurt sales more than anything.

Re:I like it! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377044)

All evidence shows that's not true at all.

id SOftware made the same mistak everyone makes.

They assume pirated copies makes less money. Hwn in fact the vast majority would never pay for it to begin with.

" the network's technology correspondent Alfred Hermida counted 50,000 peer-to-peer users downloading the 1.5 GB game--$2,749,500 worth of software at Doom 3's $54.99 sticker price. Other reports put the figure between 30,000 and 20,000--$1,649,700 and $1,099,800 of software, respectively.

Whichever figures are accurate, it is clear the piracy of Doom 3 is costing developer id Software and publisher Activision millions of dollars. However, it was unclear what steps the publisher was taking to stop the piracy, given that it had not commented as of press time."

And to put that into perspective:

"The game was a critical and commercial success for id Software; with more than 3.5 million copies of the game sold, it is the most successful game by the developer to date."

So it's a tiny percentage.

Re:I like it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377050)

To be fair, games with multi-million dollar budgets like Skrym probably could bankrupt a studio if they released it with no restrictions whatsoever. Software piracy is one of the reasons the games industry abandoned the PC and moved to consoles. I remember id Software stating that pre-release piracy of Doom 3 on the PC cost them millions of dollars.

To be ACTUALLY fair (and not incredibly dishonest), everyone who wanted to pirate Skyrim did so because it was trivially easy to do. If Skyrim had been released with no DRM, it would not have made one cent less than it made in reality, because there are already absolutely no barriers to stealing it.

Re:I like it! (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377102)

Software piracy is one of the reasons the games industry abandoned the PC and moved to consoles. I remember id Software stating that pre-release piracy of Doom 3 on the PC cost them millions of dollars.

I call BS. There's far too many cases of wildly successful PC games both from huge, well-established publishers as well as from small, no-name indie developers - just in the last year alone.

Maybe console games are easier to develop, or maybe they think they have a larger target audience, but you can be pretty damn sure it's not because of piracy.

Re:I like it! (1, Interesting)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376868)

Every time an artist does something like this, it pays off greatly.

The most surprising thing here is that anyone finds this surprising.

Artists have been doing just fine in the face of rampant piracy for decades now. Every industry affected by piracy has continuously gotten larger and more profitable.

The only things that have ever hurt these industries are the same things that hurt *any* industry: poor quality products, poor marketing, poor judgement by the manufacturer in setting the MSRP, etc.

Proof (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376622)

Louis CK's experiment is proof that you don't need DRM to make a profit and, a decent amount at that. Good for him! It is nice to see someone with behaving rationally!

Re:Proof (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376654)

Didn't Apple already prove this when they converted their music store to a DRM-free format? It seems like nobody around here gives them any credit for that...

Re:Proof (2)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376774)

It doesn't feel the same when the "person" doing it is the world's most valuable multinational corporation, and siphons off thirty percent of every sale as a toll, before passing on the payment to more huge multinational corporations to siphon off more, before giving the artists their pittance. I guess for me the DRM is less important than those other things, though still more important.

Re:Proof (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377078)

SO? Apple makes some money. 30% isn't really that bad when you look at costs to operate iTunes.

Hey, musicians, self publish. Don't sign the contract.

Re:Proof (4, Funny)

recrudescence (1383489) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376852)

Heh. You remind me of this quote from a movie. I don't remember the exact movie, but the quote went something like this:
- I saved a man's life once!
- Yeah? What did you do?
- I stopped kicking him.

Re:Proof (0)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377128)

> Didn't Apple already prove this when they converted their music store to a DRM-free format? It seems like nobody around here gives them any credit for that...

Perhaps, but it was already too late for us. I had already gotten used to buying the CD on Amazon or at the local used CD shop and ripping it into itunes in a DRM-free format, or buying albums -- "In Rainbows", "Ghosts" -- directly off websites. My daughter went entirely "into the cloud", if you will, by switching to Youtube playlists. By the time itunes made the switch, our habits were already ingrained, and we hadn't used the itunes account to buy anything for years. That whole model of putting roadblocks around on what players you could play your media, just made it too inconvenient to continue with Apple's paradigm. Or, (that's not entirely fair...) rather, it was enough *more* convenient to do other things, that we were enticed from Apple's little sheltered garden.

Other collateral damage was that when you eliminate the need for an itunes account to which your device is inextricably bound, the ipod becomes just another mp3 player. I switched to Blackberry for music almost immediately, especially since it had stereo bluetooth (which worked in my car) and my ipod did not. Daughter only uses her Touch in the bathroom now, to play music during showers, and then from youtube over wifi. Her Android Bionic does all other music duties.

So yea, Apple does get credit for that, legitimately. It was a fine move. But sadly, too little, too late. At least for us.

Re:Proof (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376878)

Well, more importantly, it proves you don't need a major publishing company to make a profit.

Re:Proof (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377296)

Well, more importantly, it proves you don't need a major publishing company to make a profit.

You just need to already be very, very popular and well known name.

Re:Proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377022)

It's interesting that the rational behavior is to expect people to act irrationally, or at least compromising some rationality for morals/ethics.

If you look at the numbers, the cost obtaining in a not so legitimate way is (time to find it)*(value of time) + (chance of being caught)*(penalty). Let's suppose someone believes their time to be worth $25/hr, the chance of getting caught is 0.0001 (if the RIAA has sued 18,000 people [arstechnica.com] , I'm assuming in total about 30,000 have been sued for file-sharing, and the population of the US is over 300M), and the penalty is $10,000, that becomes:

(time to find)*(25/hr)+(0.0001)*(10,000)

As long as it takes less than 10 minutes longer to find the video by illegitimate means than from his website, the rational choice is to find it illegitimately. What's interesting is that the expected value of being caught is about $1, meaning it probably is rationally best to download music legally, but not for many movies, ebooks, etc.

Judge Throws Out Sony PlayStation 'Other OS' Suit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376640)

A California district judge has dismissed a class-action suit against Sony over the disabling of the "Other OS" feature in its PlayStation 3 console.

According to the ruling, purchasing a PS3 does not entitle a user to indefinite access to the PlayStation Network. Disabling the "Other OS" feature might have been disappointing and a questionable customer service move, but it was not illegal, Judge Richard Seeborg found.

Innovation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376660)

Why is Apple the largest company in the world? Innovation. Why Microsoft used to be huge? Innovation. Why Louis CK had success? Because he innovated and brought something new. Just good music or good comedy alone doesn't sell. Innovation does.

What shocks me (1)

FarrisGoldstein (694412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376702)

Hooray, vindication, do more of this, etc. But my question is: Where did those ~$300,000 dollars go? Does it really take that much overhead to successfully sell media content the way we've all been asking for for years?

Re:What shocks me (1)

scuzzlebutt (517123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376778)

Stab in the dark: local, state and federal income tax? That'd probably account for quite a bit of that, anyway...

Re:What shocks me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376780)

That might be the cost he incurred in actually producing the show and tour.

Re:What shocks me (2)

Chrutil (732561) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376830)

He filmed and produced the show with money out of his own pocket, that's $170k. The website setup cost was something like $30k. Then he had to pay tax on the gain. That adds up to about $300k leaving $200k in profit.

Re:What shocks me (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376926)

Assuming those numbers follow the standard practice of including production costs, they're about right for the costs of recording his performances (audio and video engineers) and creating the video (editing and other post-processing) in the first place. That might include costs of running the performances as well, booking the venue, paying a manager, etc., although those would have been defrayed by ticket sales, and, arguably could be accounted separately.

Re:What shocks me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376974)

$170k production + $32k website + ($500k * 2.5% paypal fee = $12.5k) = $214.5k raw costs
$500k - $214.5 = $285.5 profit
$285.5 * 30% tax = $85.65k
$285.5 - $85.65 is about $200k

Re:What shocks me (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377112)

See, that's the problem. Most people, including you, have no idea how much something costs. So when they are told a number, the all scratch their heads. A few , such as yourself, might look into it and get some decent answer. Most people just scream waste and unions.

Filming is expensive. It's probable several performances, edited to gather. so there is editing, sound, post production and so on. Those people should get paid as well.

Re:What shocks me (1)

FarrisGoldstein (694412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377238)

Thanks for all the good answers. I knew that video & live production were expensive, I just didn't know all of those costs were considered part of the COGS for this particular sale.

Initial offering ususally works (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376704)

It's trying to continue to make money off it for the next 50 years, which the RIAA/MPAA are trying to do.

Good effort, though.

Re:Initial offering ususally works (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376834)

This is exactly the point. He gets paid just fine for the work that he just did, but to continue to get paid he needs to do new work. This is how the system should work, as opposed to the RIAA/MPAA model of do a work and then try to lock it up and get paid for it for the rest of eternity. The public domain is being robbed by these kinds of jokers who think that once something is made it should be owned forever, rather than becoming the shared cultural heritage that it really is and belonging to all the people who saw it when it was initially made.

Or you could, you know, make new shit (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377016)

Louis C.K. is real big on that. He claims, and his shows seem to back up, that he tosses his old jokes each year and moves on to new ones. He doesn't keep doing the same material over and over. Means that if he releases a new special, well there is probably a reason to watch it.

Leaving something on the table (1)

SniperJoe (1984152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376724)

I think this demonstrates something that I've believed in for years. When doing business, sometimes it's wise to leave a bit on the table. You won't be maximizing profit or getting the absolute best deal that you could have, but the goodwill earned can be priceless and can pay off in ways you can't envision.

No title (1)

tehlinux (896034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376760)

The special, which has sold 110,000 copies so far, is only available on Louis CK's website."

Actually... [thepiratebay.org]

Re:No title (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376912)

The article itself actually has a link referencing that, as usual the brilliant editing of TFS implies things incorrectly.

Self contradiction (1, Offtopic)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376788)

I find it amusing that the link itself and the link the site refers to, both say the opposite things. The article basically has him saying he dosn't think any if many people stole it at all, the article he links to says at least 500 people stole it. Now what would be more fair to say would be that the piracy is the same or less then if the video had the DRM, and that the piracy did not appear to have reduced sales at all.

DRM free? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376798)

I am typing to you all from my Lemote Yeeloong laptop which has an open BIOS and is running the gnewsense of GNU/Linux and I have to say that while this video is DRM-free, it is not posted in Ogg Theora format. It's like saying that Neo from the Matrix is free because as far as he knows, he's not shackled to a simulation.

I hate this dude's TV shows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376808)

Which is why I've been surprised at how much I've liked his standup acts which are in a different universe of funny from Louie and Lucky Louie.

Pirates going to Pirate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376882)

http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/6886311/Louis.C.K.-.Live.at.the.Beacon.Theatre.2011.Webrip.X264.AC3.CrEw

Also (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376894)

The Humble Bundle is a great example of what people will do when they have the option of either getting something for nothing, or getting that same thing and paying for it when they know their money goes somewhere besides a publishing exec's pocket.

Buy versus steal (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376898)

Back when allofmp3 was still alive and well, I bought hundreds of dollars of music from them. Even a lot of stuff that I already owned on CD since it was much more convenient to download the album than to find a good ripping program and to sit around and load CD's.

After I lost the ability to add funds to my allofmp3 account, I pretty much stopped buying music at all, except the very occasional MP3 album. At $2.00/album I'm willing to buy lots of music, even bands I don't know well. At $10/album, I'm much more selective to the point of almost never purchasing.

Not to mention the fact that I already have a few hundred albums of music I like, so I don't really feel a strong urge to purchase more. The more music I own, the less I'm willing to spend on new music. If I have only 2 albums, I might be willing to spend $20 on a new one just to get variety. But if I have 200 albums I don't add much variety to my collection by buying something new, so I might want to pay only $5 for a new album unless it's some artist I really like.

From the horse's mouth (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38376950)

He also did a related Ask Me Anything on reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/n9tef/hi_im_louis_ck_and_this_is_a_thing/

Jonathan Coulton aught to try this (1)

wonderboss (952111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376960)

oh wait, he did. http://www.jonathancoulton.com/ [jonathancoulton.com]

How many others I wonder?

Link to the purchase page (5, Informative)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376982)

I found it odd that TFA didn't mention the site, or where one can go to get this fine drm-free video.

https://buy.louisck.net/ [louisck.net]

I think it's great, personally. He's getting $5 from me. It's a fair price, and he's a funny guy.

Pay on the way out... (5, Insightful)

LazyAcer (105424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38376988)

LCK says he doesn't get torrents, but I think he does, this is very smart. Many people who watch the torrent version will gladly hop over to his site and pay their $5 and not even bother to d/l again. Movies should be like this, what if you could pay on the way out of the theater after you've seen the movie, wouldn't that make alot more sense?

You know it'll never happen, but it's a nice idea

=D

I wanted to buy it (2)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377258)

But the only method is to use paypal.
I had to change my email to get rid of those cretins.
The level of their malevolence I leave to others to describe.

Too bad, I wanted to reward Louis for his efforts.

I've not made a few other purchases for the same paypal reasons.

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