In which the comedian, writer-director and producer makes proponents of DRM look foolish, and demonstrates how going indie can be much more profitable for artists—even those as famous and successful as himself.
Comedian Louis CK wrote a frank essay about his most recent experiment, a “Live at the Beacon Theater” comedy DVD that was sold for $5 to fans without any digital rights management (DRM) protection. In less than four days, he has earned a $200,000 profit by avoiding traditional distribution strategy and channels.
Nearly all digital books currently contain some sort of DRM protection–making it harder for readers to take notes, read on different devices or share the book. Publishers and authors should read Louis CK’s argument against using these tools to restrict your readership.
In the ‘frank essay’, Louis C.K. shares the following interesting facts and figures:
The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th. 12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of Today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58). This is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video. They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely. This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.
Read the full statement from Louis C.K. here. (Note: the statement contains some strong language)