Louis CK takes matters into his own hands
This is the opening salvo for which I’ve been waiting. The war on traditional media distribution has begun, and content creators finally have someone to prop up as an example of success. By the time this post is released, Louis CK has made over $500,000 on his stand up act. It must be noted that he offered it to consumers for $5 in a DRM-free digital format. He has claimed over $200,000 of that for himself. The rest goes to the website, production, etc. The whole venture was a gamble that paid off.
Other content creators should take note of what happened. CK managed to do all of this on his own. There were no distributors or executives to get in the way of his vision. He was able to produce exactly what he wanted, distribute it exactly the way he wanted, price it exactly what he wanted, and it worked out extremely well. It does help that he is a well known name and had the capitol to invest in the venture, but it’s still a step in the right direction.
It makes sense why content creators are still relying so heavily on big distribution companies and people who would alter their work. Money. Not only are these companies likely to provide a bigger payoff for a project, but these companies have a lot to invest to make a project even bigger. New bands can use the internet to put their music all over the place. A new band signed to a label can find itself on the radio all over the place. A new author could self-publish in various ways, including binding books by hand or digital distribution. But a publisher will send books out for high-level reviews and make sure it’s prominently displayed in bookstores. Why self-publish when someone can make you a hit?
The truth is, the likelihood of becoming a hit is slim. The likelihood of being screwed over in the process, however, is quite huge. How many stories have we read about bands, even extremely popular ones, not getting nearly as big a payoff as the labels? How many stories have we read about a director’s vision getting drastically altered because a movie executive didn’t get it? When you self-publish, you determine the payoff and maintain full control over your art/product. Other than getting into as many heads as possible, that is the holy grail when it comes to creating something.
People know that I absolutely love the Nerdist Network. Chris Hardwick and his crew should be able to spread their gospel to the masses, and in fact that’s what they do via digital distribution. I’m absolutely happy that they have been commissioned by BBC America to produce a series of Nerdist television specials throughout the year. At the same time, I’m disappointed. Hardwick created the Nerdist website and turned it into a wonderful source for aficionado-centered blogging and a number of different podcasts. Why go to TV? I’m sure the payoff is bigger and there’s a chance for wider recognition. That goes without saying. But wouldn’t it be even better if they just made the TV show on their own? The Nerdist video podcast could be a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly feature on the site that would be completely unedited and fun. Did anyone see the Nerdist TV pilot a few months back? It was fun, but it was noticeably cut down and lackluster. And too short. Digital distribution doesn’t have to fit into a time slot.
Maybe I’m romanticizing the do-it-yourself approach. Then again, Louis CK makes it look so good. Even though his show is on FX, it is written, directed, and executive produced by CK. He even edits the show on his MacBook, which is what he did for his stand-up special as well. He owns his content, and it’s working out extremely well for him.
- Community would be much better off if Dan Harmon could just release it all online.
- That horrible show 2 Broke Girls could actually talk more directly about sex instead of skirting awfully close in the dialog.
- Zack Snyder wouldn’t have had to compromise the musical numbers, or anything else for that matter, in Sucker Punch.
- The Adjustment Bureau could have been the complex piece of drama that I know it was meant to be.
- We could simply have more diverse, thought-provoking, and creative media out there.
There’s no harm in moving in this direction now. The internet allows us to distribute our own content, and that’s all we’re going to even have the most remote access to. SOPA is just around the corner, which allows big companies to shut down sites that they consider breaches of copyright. If content is created in channels beyond their reach, we don’t have to worry about DC and Warner Bros. coming after you for posting quite a few of their comic panels without even the slightest amount of permission.