THIS WEEK: December 11 – 17, 2011
The invention of the internet changed everything, and continues to do so. In the past, you needed to be aligned with a major corporation, studio, or publishing house to have your voice heard and listened to. But that isn’t the case anymore. Just ask American stand-up comic Louis C.K. These days, the veteran comedian pretty much has his pick of people, networks, and studios to work with—that comes with being one of the biggest names in comedy.
And yet here he is, writing, performing, recording, producing, and distributing his own comedy special. No backers—no men in expensive suits dolling out the money to pay for the production. Just Louis on his own and doing his own thing.
The special, Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater, is being offered as a streaming download for $5 US, and is available at the comedian’s personal website. Even more interesting is the fact that Louis is offering the download DRM-free, which means (in Louis’ own words), that there are “no regional restrictions, no crap. You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever.”
As many have pointed out, that’s taking a huge risk. With no legal restrictions, you’d think that the special would quickly wind up on a file sharing site, and that the majority of people would just illegally download it. This, however, was not the case. The special went on sale on December 10, and by the 13th over 110,000 copies had been sold. In other words, Louis’ internet experiment was a success.
As he further explains, “If the trend continues with sales on this video, my goal is that I can reach the point where when I sell anything, be it videos, CDs or tickets to my tours, I’ll do it [on my website] and I’ll continue to follow the model of keeping my price as far down as possible, not overmarketing to you, keeping as few people between you and me as possible in the transaction.”
In other words, Louis has cut out the middleman, and saved you and I a fair bit of money. And
let’s face it, he won’t be the last comedian or entertainer to interact with the public so directly. Truth be told, I think this kind of thing goes a long way towards strengthening the relationship between a performer and his or her audience, and so because of its success we’ll start to see more and more of it as time goes on.
And I like that—there’s something more personal about it. And that’s how art (performance or otherwise) should be—a personal interaction.
All of this, of course, is only possible because of the internet. And after all these years with the world wide web, it’s good to know that the internet has amounted to something more than just a place for porn, internet memes, and Facebook.
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The 168 Turnaround is a week-in-review column, a place for me to reflect on the week’s most interesting pop culture news items. If it mattered to me or I think it might matter to you, then it will be here. If I’ve overlooked an important news item, or if you have a comment or question, please leave a response below. Thank you for reading.