Comedian Louis CK released a stand-up special last week and he has been selling it as a digital download directly to fans via his website to great success.
Announcing the release on Late Show with David Letterman, it's the second time that CK has put out a show via the internet. Three years ago he rejected the traditional method of releasing material to a major media outlet to go it alone and the show, Live at the Beacon Theater, generated US$1m in 12 days.
Now, according to the American Hustle actor, Live at the Comedy Store has outsold its predecessor in the same time period. “It’s selling better so far than anything else on the site had this far in," CK told Re/code in an email.
This is despite the special receiving comparatively little media attention when compared to the show of three years ago, when commentators examined what this new distribution method might mean. It suggests that, firstly, CK's fanbase is seriously devote, and secondly, that selling video-based media directly to your audience may be already viable.
The show is available in 1080p HD with MP3 or FLAC audio as a stream or download at a cost of US$5. On his website, CK urged buyers not to make the show available as a free torrent.
"Please PLEASE don’t torrent this special. If you want to share it, direct people here. It’s so easy to drop the 5 dollars. We don’t make you join anything. We let you use the file any way you want. It costs a shitload of money to make these specials and I do it myself. I love offering it to you directly for so cheap and so easily. I would like that to continue to be a good idea."
Following Live at the Beacon Theater's success in 2011, CK posted an image of his PayPal account with the US$1m credit and revealed the money would used to cover the production costs, staff bonuses, charitable donations and for the man himself to pay his rent and take care of his family. "The rest I will do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business," he quipped.