The internet is steadily changing the way innovators spread the word about their products and share content with their audiences. Even brands who are not necessarily fond of internet phenoms like social media
are learning what power lies in the digital channel. Comedian Louis C.K. is a perfect example.
If you are a fan of late night TV, you may know that it was not too long ago that the Washington, D.C.-born funny man appeared on Conan O’Brien speaking strongly against the world’s infatuation with the social web. Considering that social media seems to have played an integral part in C.K.’s recent and rather prosperous experiment, one has to wonder if he has changed his tune just a little bit.
Offer Something Good, and They’ll Bite
Using Twitter to help get the word out, C.K. leveraged the internet to provide his fans with a special treat, particularly the ones who are strapped for cash. His initiative turned out be a huge success and a model example of digital-based direct marketing at its best. The experiment went a little something like this:
In what appears to have been an effort to simply gauge how his audience would respond to the notion, Louis C.K. offered fans the opportunity to purchase his brand new standup routine for the amazingly low price of five bucks. The routine was comprised of two shows held at the historic Beacon Theater in New York City, and C.K. spared no expense in terms of putting the production together and making the performances easy for fans to purchase.
According to the veteran entertainer, it was a high-end project that took six cameras and roughly $170,000 to complete. The performances were made available for download, so, of course, a website was needed. C.K. said that about $32,000 was shelled out for the hosting and maintenance of a reliable website that would get the job done. Within approximately 12 days, the dual performance standup special had racked up $1 million in sales, leaving him with a net profit of about $220,000 after paying the bills. C.K. said he could have made even more had he sold the rights to a major company, but the fan interaction obviously added to the uniqueness of the experience. On top of that, 200K is a nice chunk of change no matter how you look at it.
Times Are Changing Fast
Brands have dramatically changed the way they promote and distribute their content, and the internet has been there every step of the way. The shift from traditional to digital approaches can especially be seen in the entertainment industry. In 2001, the original Napster was shut down, but the proliferation of similar file sharing applications literally forced musicians to find a different method of distribution. Even the performances from Louis C.K’s five-dollar initiative found their way to the multitude of torrent sites that litter the web. Nowadays, entertainers of all kinds are exploring ways to keep their production costs affordable and audiences engaged, while still profiting from their content.
The Louis C.K experiment is worthy of its moment in the spotlight no doubt, but there were some unique factors that attributed to its success. C.K invested his own money into the project, and even tasked himself with the role of director. It was a risky move, seeing how show money is how comedians and other entertainers earn a living. Had it failed, he would have lost out on a lot of money, both in investment and the guaranteed rates that come with being a big name in the industry. Nevertheless, C.K and his supporters demonstrated the power of proper communication channels and content sharing tools in the digital age.