Comedian – that seems like such a small box for what this guy’s become – Louis C.K. conducted an experiment over the past four days by selling his latest comedy DVD directly to consumers (he had also directed and edited – as well as of course wrote and performed – the whole thing himself). The video was sold for about 25% of what a production company would have charged and was free of any of the encoding that prevents buyers from making copies.
In and of itself, this might not seem like all that big a deal; lots of people ‘self-publish’ these days. But C.K. is arguably one of the hottest 5 talents working and is just starting the real ‘marketable’ phase of his career; i.e., he is exactly what the entertainment industry covets most: a legitimate talent with a solid following who is in a phase of his career where he is producing a high volume of very high-quality product. The problem is that he’s opting out from the entire system. Read the statement he released yesterday. Without knowing it – perhaps he does! – Louis has written a mini-manifesto that summaries the rationale for going directly to the marketplace as well as mindset required to succeed.
In the first 4 days of this experiment, Louis sold 110,000 copies of the video. He sold the video for $5 each and has made $200,000 in personal profit; I’d imagine he’ll at least double/triple that over the next couple of weeks. If a production company had handled this for him, he would have likely made about the same but the price for the video would have been $20 and the 75% of the revenue that didn’t go to Louis would have gone to the company.
The experiment having been a success, Louis has committed to running his entire business this way: CD’s, concert ticket sales, etc. Most of the business leaders I meet don’t get what’s actually happening here. It’s an intellectual understanding at best.
Control is slipping away. The role of ‘middlemen’ is becoming devalued. The advantages of scale are rapidly becoming irrelevant. The distance between Creator and Consumer is disappearing. Who are you in this world? What value do you provide when all of your ‘secret knowledge’ and proprietary processes are accessible to anyone?
P.S., the video is genius; go buy a copy!