DRM-free experiment makes Louis CK a millionaire

An update on Louis CK's no-DRM experiment in direct-selling a $5 comedy concert video: he's crossed the $1M mark and he's giving half the money to staff bonuses and charity: "One million dollars. That's a lot of money. Really too much money. I've never had a million dollars all of a sudden."


      1. That leaves me with 220k for myself. Some of that will pay my rent and will care for my childen. The rest I will do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business. In any case, to me, 220k is enough out of a million.

        I never viewed money as being “my money” I always saw it as “The money” It’s a resource. if it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system.

        -Louis CK

  1. CK Louis is a funny, smart guy. Never been a huge fan of his material compared to other comedians i admire, but has some great stuff. Putting that aside, i’m more than glad to see this experiment of his succeed. A lot of standup unfortunately gets pirated, but its never the comedians’ fault… just the arcane distribution methods. People can’t easy share their favorite standup, and turn to piracy to do so.

    Hopefully this will pave the way for a better platform specific for standup and comedy in general. DRM free too ;)

    1. What other active comedians do you like? I think Louis is the best we have right now, but I’d love to learn about others.

  2. I love the way Louis CK has been ripping off Dane Cook for years and doing it horribly. Oh wait, I got that backwards.

  3. Technically a millionaire in gross income earned, yes. But the show alone cost $250k, and then he spent another $250k on what I assume was bandwidth costs for the video downloads (that seems excessive…wonder what CDN he used), unless his web vendor ripped him off. So he’s more of a thousandaire. But $500k is nothing to sneeze at for 12 days’ work.

    1. It seems like he has said tickets paid for the show,  but then he has also said the show was paid for by downloads, so I am confused. And based on what he has said about writing and road testing, it’s probably more like 6 months work by a master craftsman. Still, pretty awesome. So….. let loose the torrents?

      1. I think folks miss the point. Whatever his fees and costs were to to produce, manage and collect payments for this experiment he is tons ahead of the money he would have personally pocketed if he—let’s say—went with HBO or Comedy Central.  He might only be getting a slice of a larger pie, but it’s a much larger slice with less “fat” from studio production costs.

        What his experiment proves is that you can do something like this.

        1. The fine print being that yes you can do something as big and well-received as this if you’re someone like Louis CK.

          1. Heh. i think Doctorow has a anecdote, where he shows that when he started giving away ebooks people was saying he could do so because he was “nobody”. But when that turned into a success, the arguments turned into “oh, but you have success because your well known”. Can’t have it both ways. Imo, success is any time you have a stable living doing something you like. The platinum records and multi-million salaried are outliers in the greater picture.

    2. 250k for downloads?? Where did u read that? Sounds like complete BS, sorry. As far as i know cost totalled at 250k-fullstop.

  4. I love this, I really do. I’ve enjoyed Louis CK’s work in the past and this will get more people into it. I’m not surprised he’s made a million on it, I’m just surprised at how fast he got there. That means 200,000 people paid $5 for this video. 

  5. “I directed this video myself and the production of the video cost around $170,000. (This was largely paid for by the tickets bought by the audiences at both shows).”

    then later

    “the first 250k is going to pay back what the special cost to produce and the website to build.”

    He needs a better producer.

    1. I just assume the additional $250k is going to pay for whatever the ticket costs didn’t pay for.  He’s not exactly a brilliant mathematician or accountant so I think we can give him some slack, here.

  6. I’ve known quite a few people who used paypal to sell their artwork and had some serious problems getting their money. I hope he doesn’t run into any issues.

  7. Louis! For gods sake, the first thing you need to do is get your money the f@#$ out of Paypal before they decide to freeze the account because it’s Christmas or a Tuesday or whatever.

    1. Figuring out the business model for selling your comedy special is easy.

      Figuring out the business model for purchases and other financial transactions  that cuts out the third party corporate scum is hard.

  8. Not sure where I fit in the statistics, but I downloaded the show, watched it, enjoyed it, then bought it.
    Didn’t bother to download it from his site.

    1. Maybe the next step in self distribution will be just selling the torrent file so that you don’t have to pay for as much bandwidth. It’s basically an honor system now anyway, and what Louis as really selling was warm fuzzies since the special could easily be had for free. (I bought the warm fuzzies myself.)

    2. You were counted, then, since really he’s only counting the money he made, not the actual downloads made (and I think you can download more than once, and also stream).

      1. I guess when I said I wasn’t sure where I fit meant, not many people are going to admit to downloading it illegally, then paying for it. There just wont be a true number for that. Obviously I am not the only one, but likely a minority.
        I do the same for music, download first, (maybe) pay later.

    3. I bought last week and still haven’t watched it. I’ve torrented other stuff from him in the past though and figured he deserved $5 from me.

  9. I’m glad I now know his last name: Szekely! Of course. Sounds like ‘CK’, how about that. Nice. Doesn’t rhyme with shekel-y, though he is that now, too.

    Wow, the Szekelys have a fascinating page on wikipedia.

    1. From his Wikipedia:  
      C.K.’s stage name is derived from an approximate English pronunciation of his Hungarian surname, Szekely (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈseːkɛj])


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