Wednesday, December 14, 2011


"Just live your life,"

Louis CK
There is a real trend of authors - major authors - going to self publishing, particularly e-books. The reasons are pretty obvious; greater control over your own product, faster earnings, greater percentage of earnings, and your product is on the "shelf" forever rather than swapped out by sales-conscious stores. The result is that big book stores such are suffering and publishing houses are suffering even more, but authors are earning more from their work.

Yet while this is available to other entertainers, they haven't taken advantage of it like they should. Louis CK recently took that step. His latest comedy special is online, and you can watch it right now for $5. Why did he do this? Well HBO wanted too big a slice of his earnings, and after paying for the production and filming, he just put it up and said “No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap. You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever. Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I'm just some guy."

So far according to Louis himself, he's seen over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000, minus Paypal charges. Since it cost him $32,000 to build the website (and he was horrendously ripped off if he paid that) and $170,000 to film the show - mostly paid for by tickets, he's doing pretty well.

Which brings us to other artists. Don't pay 30 grand for a website, that's idiotic, but seriously consider this option, no matter how big you are. The Rolling Stones should be putting their music out available like this, with concert footage and so on. You own your own music, you created it, you put it out. Make your money off it, don't let record execs take most of it away.

There's no excuse these days for going through the old system and giving away most of your labor to some jerk in a suit. You don't need them any longer.


Eric said...

One of my favorite singer/songwriter type artists to see live is Todd Snider. I've been a fan of his for years and have watched as he went from major label (MCA) to a small independent label (John Prine's 'Oh Boy!' label) to self produced and marketed. One thing he started doing a few years ago that I thought was genius is that he records every live show from the soundboard, and makes it available for download online for $7. So if you go to one of his shows and really enjoyed it (and his shows are uniquely enjoyable, toeing the line between stand up comedy and really good songwriting), you can buy it the next day and relive it any time you want. This probably helps keep him at the top of his game too, because if he puts on a poor show it will result in fewer online sales after the show.

I think the result of this technology is that we are going to have fewer big stars, and a lot more artists who are able to scratch out a living for themselves doing their work. That's a good thing.

Philip said...

Another advantage is that one won't have to deal with the record company's album packaging, where a few good songs are bundled in with a slew of mediocre ones.

But I wonder how things will work out between artists and radio/internet radio/satellite stations.

Eric said...

Phillip... not to mention the literal physical record company packaging. Whoever came up with the idea for that impossible-to-remove sticky security tape they put on CD cases should be taken to a dark basement and waterboarded.