Recently Louis CK uploaded his latest stand-up video at the Beacon Theater to his website. You could download it for $5 and you have the opportunity to stream the video twice and download it up to three times. There is no distribution control on the video so if you wanted to you could easily upload the video to a torrent site or burn it to a DVD.
Louis CK paid for the production of the video himself, so the $5 you pay would go directly to him. The video has been up less than a week. He was able to make a profit on the video in less than 12 hours and he has already made over $500,000 (therefore over 100,000 people have downloaded the video.) This is a great example of a new experiement many artists are testing. Give your material directly to the consumer with no middle man. There are also no sharing restraints, so it is possible to illegally pirate the material, but the artist charges a low fee (or allows the consumer to chose their own price, like Radiohead for example) in hopes that most people will chose to pay for the product instead of pirating the content.
I am one of the 100,000 people who have paid $5 for Louis CK’s new video. I did this for several reasons, the primary one being I think Louis CK is really funny and I wanted to watch his stand-up. But I also love this idea of paying a small fee directly to the artist themselves. And I think this is a really great idea for artists that would like to see some revenue. It has worked for Louis CK and Radiohead, so why wouldn’t it work for others as well?
People like to support an artist. They do not like paying $1.29 per song on itunes (or whatever it costs) and then be unable to put that song on a thumbdrive and hand it to their friend to have. I do not like that I cannot upload a song to tumblr if it is an mp4… meaning I cannot upload a song that was from a CD I purchased. Pirated music is typically in mp3 format, so if you want to upload that you could get away with it easily on tumblr.(i know, I’m not even supposed to be uploading copyrighted music to begin with, but you know people do it…)
When people purchase music they do it because they want to support the artist. And now technology has made it less expensive than ever to produce your own video or record your own music with professional quality sound. The years of Album artwork are over. The years of huge studios are coming to a close also. It is getting to the point that we do not have to pay $14.99 for a CD/DVD to support the artist (mabye like $2), production company ($3), studio ($2), cover designer ($1), etc, etc. We can just pay $5 (which is more than the artist would have received before) to get our product in digital form(which is cheaper to produce). That is how many people want their stuff these days anyway. If I want a CD I’ll burn one myself. I’ll buy the music online and then do what I want with it and give it to who I want. (Think about books; we have always handed books to our friends after we finished reading them, nobody thinks that is illegal!) The artist is happy because their art is getting out and they are making more money per purchase than they were before with hard copy media.
I know a lot of people that obviously still want hard copy media, and many artists that would still rather work with a production company than do their own stuff. This is the beginning of the future for videos and music. A lot of people are outraged at other people that pirate content illegally. But here’s the thing: you can safeguard it all you want, people are going to do that anyway. But if you still want to make a profit off of those of us that like your stuff and want to support you, lower the price, and just give us the content directly. Yes, some people are going to still listen to your stuff for free, but there are going to be a lot of us that want to help you out and chip in the $5 to support your art.