Comedian Louis CK performed an interesting social experiment with his latest release of standup material, making it available on his own website for as little as $5. It also came DRM and region free, letting downloaders play the file wherever they wanted, how they wanted.
This was done against the advice of those around him, who recommended that he sell with DRM, with region limits etc. to prevent people from illegally downloading the show. After four days though, Louis released a blog post stating, “At this point I think we can safely say that the experiment really worked,” since he managed to sell over 110,000 copies in four days after the release. This made the comedian $500,000, though Louis says after costs this rounds out to around $200,000.
Some people did download the video from torrent websites, and Louis took to sites like Reddit to ask them about why they did it and what he could improve. Ultimately though, he’s already ticked most of the boxes that are cause for complaints with downloaders. The file can be played anywhere, on any device you want, and it costs only $5. This equates out to like £3, which is at worst a quarter of the price of other standup DVDs, and at best about 7 times cheaper.
In his blog post discussing sales, Mr CK ended on a heartfelt and typically silly note, saying that he “learned that money can be a lot of things. It can be something that is hoarded, fought over, protected, stolen and withheld. Or it can be like an energy, fueled by the desire, will, creative interest, need to laugh, of large groups of people. And it can be shuffled and pushed around and pooled together to fuel a common interest, jokes about garbage, penises and parenthood.”