Louis C.K.'s DRM-Free Internet Experiment Nets Over $1 Million and Counting

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News Posted: Fri, Dec 23 2011 11:04 AM
Looking for a last minute gift idea? Time is running out, but if you have $5 to spare, a sense of humor, and want to flip the finger at big media companies who insist on shackling their content with sometimes draconian-level DRM schemes, you need to purchase Louis C.K.'s "Live at the Beacon Theater" comedy download.

Many of you already have. Louis C.K. cut out all the middlemen and made his performance available for purchase on his website for a Lincoln note, which entitles you to download the 720p video up to three times and watch it wherever and whenever you want. There's no DRM, just a reasonably priced 1-hour video that you're free to burn to DVD, and he even put up free DVD box cover and disc artwork you can print out.

The experiment worked. After just four days, Louis C.K. posted a note on his website announcing he was in the black for $200,000. By that time, he had already paid for the production costs (around $170,000) and website (about $32,000), and $200,000 was what was left, in profit, even after accounting for PayPal fees and taxes.

More recently, Louis C.K. posted another update announcing that in 12 days time, he hit a million dollars in his PayPal account.

"That's a lot of money. Really too much money. I've never had a million dollars all of a sudden, and since we're sharing this experience and since it's really your money, I wanted to let you know what I'm doing with it," Louis C.K. said.

He went on to break down where all that money is going, and if you didn't respect the man for his humor or for proving you don't need DRM to have a successful product launch, you have to give him kudos for treating his staff to a big time bonus.

"The first $250,000 is going to pay back what the special cost to produce an the website to build," Louis C.K. said. "The second $250,000 is going back to my staff and the people who work for me on the special and on my show. I'm giving them a big fat bonus. The third $280,000 is going to a few different charities... That leaves with me with $220,000 for myself. Some of that will pay my rent and will care for my children. The rest I will do terrible, terrible things with and none of that is any of your business. In any case, to me, $220,000 is enough out of a million."

And well deserved. Louis C.K. said he'll give even more away if he makes another million, yet another reason to hand this guy a five spot, which you can do here.
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Marco C replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 11:05 AM

Good for him! That dude is f'n funny...

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lipe123 replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 12:30 PM

I hope more music artists and the entertainment industry as a whole take a lesson from this guy!

Imagine purchasing an entire Audio CD for 10$ directly from an artist instead of 2-5$ PER TRACK from iTunes or 50$ per CD at a retail store.

Just goes to show that all the talk wasn't just talk, it was 100% truth.

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$50 for a retail CD? Where do you shop?

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Kiristo replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 1:04 PM

One of my favorite comedians. Bout to go buy this.

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FreeJet replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 1:14 PM


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I totally am going to spend my $5 bux to support him. The same reason I bought the Witcher 2 from GoG.com DRM free and worth every penny.

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acarzt replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 1:50 PM

$2-5 per track on iTunes?! $50 for a CD at a retail store?! You're insane man. That's no where near correct.

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lipe123 replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 2:27 PM

Wow just really? here let me help you all: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exaggeration

In other news: Way to miss the point here everyone! The point I was trying to make is that you don't need to lose 90% of your income to a recording studio/record label/copy right protection company, to make a living!

Just like minecraft shows that a game doesn't need to be sold for $59.95 with 17 $20 DLC's to address problems with the game for the programmers to just barely scrape by to pay rent.

The sooner the old unquestioned sales models for media gets debunked the better for everyone involved.

But hey I'm talking to the internet here and its much more important to pounce on someone for maybe saying something wrong or making a typo than things like world peace and whatnot.

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LBowen replied on Sat, Dec 24 2011 4:13 AM

I heard some of his stuff earlier this year and he is a riot. It felt like my sides split open from all the laughter.

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AKwyn replied on Sun, Dec 25 2011 3:51 AM


The sooner the old unquestioned sales models for media gets debunked the better for everyone involved.

It's already been debunked; the media companies are the ones who are trying to hold on to that piece of old media that still think it's essential. I don't think that losing 90% of your income is entirely correct but hey, it's a point right.

Minecraft is a good example I doubt that game developers would jump ship from the successful DLC model, especially when it's proven that it's still profitable.


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digitaldd replied on Tue, Dec 27 2011 10:47 AM

I like how he has donated much of his profits to charities he believes in. kudos to him.

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realneil replied on Thu, Dec 29 2011 7:16 PM

I like that he's spread it around a little. The bonus to his staff is cool.

So I'll go and buy this right now,........

Thanks for the tip, HH!

EDIT: OK so I just bought it and it's downloading now.

Thanks again for the tip.

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KCohn replied on Thu, Jan 5 2012 12:21 AM

Hope this catches on with software companies, movie studios and music labels everywhere! I have no problem paying reasonable fees to the artist instead of lining fat studio execs pockets! Louis C.K. is awesome for conducting this experiment and I hope he will continue this business model with future shows!

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