Louis C.K. released his latest stand-up comedy special, Live From The Comedy Store, this week three years after his self-distributed Live at the Beacon Theater shook up the comedy industry by eschewing the traditional methods of soliciting to a major media outlet, like Comedy Central or HBO, in favor of the artist controlling the production and releasing the special under their own terms. In Louis’ case, the experiment worked, as Live at the Beacon Theater, which Louis offered for digital download from his own website, louisck.com, earned over $1 million in just twelve days at a price point of just five dollars. According to Peter Kafka of Re/code, C.K.’s Live From The Comedy Store is faring even better.
Kafka reports that, according to Louis, after four days of availability sales of the special, is outpacing any of C.K.’s previous offerings.
“It’s selling better so far than anything else on the site had this far in.”
Making Louis’ accomplishment even more impressive is that unlike 2011, when C.K. was lauded as a pioneer amongst not only comedians but content creators as a whole, Live From The Comedy Store has received little to no promotional buzz. Louis appeared on Late Show with David Letterman on Monday to promote the release, but aside from a side mention from FX, the cable channel that airs Louis’ acclaimed television dark comedy series, Louie, included in a press release the network distributed regarding a production deal involving C.K. and other projects the two are working on, news of Louis’ latest release has not gone viral. Not only has this not seemed to slow sales at all, but C.K.’s direct connection with his audience and the Louis’ desire to give his ardent followers first crack at the special was such that the C.K. hadn’t even initially planned a formal announcement at all, only allowing FX to include it in their release due to its convenient timing.
“I wanted to give the subscribers a benefit for being on the list by just letting them have it first and let it grow from there. When FX wanted to announce the TV rights deal, I wanted to let them do that. Otherwise we may have not announced it at all.”
C.K.’s ability to dictate his terms as an artist has spread to touring, whereby the comic sold tickets via his own website in an attempt to curb ticket scalping and inflated prices on the secondary market, has influenced other comics such as Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan to follow suit, albeit with varying degrees of success. C.K. donated the bulk of his million-plus earnings from Live at the Beacon Theater to charity.