Image from: LouisCK.net
Every good marketer knows that although content is king, the means by which people produce and consume that content are constantly changing, and no one understands the changing face of content like the entertainment industry. One of the most prolific comedians of his time, Louis C.K. has been innovating with his content for years. Most recently, he released his fourth stand-up special, Live at the Beacon Theater. Instead of producing and releasing the special through traditional channels (broadcast and physical media), C.K. produced, directed, and released the video himself on his website, LouisCK.net.
Without even looking at the actual revenue and profit from the digitally distributed show, we can infer that it was a success by looking at some of the site metrics for LouisCK.net. You can see from the chart below that there was an enormous spike in unique visitors to C.K.’s site in December, a whopping 1,295.32% growth month-over-month and 965.63% year-over-year.
The daily reach and attention numbers for the last three months show an even more specific spike. You can clearly watch as the video is launched for download on December 10 and see how it rapidly grows in popularity.
Despite the recent legislative uproar about Internet piracy, C.K. decided it would be best to distribute his video DRM free and appeal to his audience to consider the direct relationship between artists and consumers in hopes that they would choose to pay for the performance rather than steal it. By setting such a low price ($5.00), the show became more accessible and affordable to his audience which effectively deterred piracy evidenced by his producing more than $1,000,000 in profit in just twelve days.
Positioned as one of the hottest comedians in the business at the moment, C.K. has a unique opportunity to help redefine how content creators think about the means of production and distribution. The lesson for marketers should be that sometimes, less is more, and trusting your customers is always important. By trusting his fan base to spread the word about the show, C.K. reduced his costs and created a more beneficial relationship with his audience. By openly asking them to purchase instead of pirate, C.K. was rewarded with mutual trust and respect between himself and his fans.
Is grassroots marketing based on honesty and openness a concept that can be scalable for industries outside of entertainment? What lessons can digital marketers take away from the Louis C.K. model? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Jared is currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Millward Brown Digital. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, having achieved his B.A. in Communication Studies. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.