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Louis CK does it again - 2 audio shows without DRM at $5 each (louisck.net)
177 points by middus on May 12, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments

Here's a thing on conversion:

I'm going to be offering other things through this site. Would you like to hear about them?

	      Yes, I'd like to receive further emails about Louis C.K. things.	
              No, leave me alone forever, you fat idiot.
No was checked by default, and the phrasing says "Hello, I am a human."

I clicked yes.

I remember when the video came out, the opt-in emailing was a huge deal, and he commented on the response he got to that in pretty much every interview I read from him on the subject.

I also opted-in to his mailings, partly because it was opt-in rather than opt-out, and partly because of his tone. He has some great copy for selling comedy videos, and now albums. In the email he sent out about the new audio specials, he had his usual laid back tone, but he also ended with this:

> Okay. that was exhausting. Sorry. I didn't even ask you how you are. How are you? Oh yea? Oh good. That's great. What? Oh man. That's tough. I'm sorry... Oh well that sounds like you handled it well, though. So. Yeah. Yeah. I know. I know that's... yeah. Well... Just remember, time will go by and that'll just be on the list of shit that happened to you. You'll be okay. Yeah. Huh?... Oh. Really? HE DID? Oh my GOD! hahaha!! That's CRAZY! No. no. I won't tell him you told me. Of course not. Alright well... uhuh? Oh wow. yeah. Alright well.. I really gotta go. Thanks for listening. I'm glad you're basically okay. Stay in touch.

> your friend,

> Louis C.K.

It's almost like treating your customer like a person and not just a wallet with some flesh hanging off of it helps your cause. It's a novel idea to be sure.

I've always held the pet theory that a sufficiently human and casual tone can overcome a lot of fatigue/wariness that would otherwise stop people from listening to you. Sometimes, I feel like if you're just completely transparent and honest with the customer, maybe they'll be willing to listen.

I never managed to convince anyone to try A/B testing a banner ad that literally just said 'BUY OUR SHIT', though.

That might sound too overly forceful to come off as human and casual. I can definitely see it working for someone like ThinkGeek though.

That is the base of good copywriting. To connect with the reader in a perosnal level. It can only be achieved by (big surprise) being honest, human, and friendly.

“You should buy our shit online here.” – D.C., Jul. 2009

Well, his approach might also be influenced by the fact that he is a comedian

Lol - I bought the first video, and now one of the audios. However, at the end of the process I didn't remember my old password. So I clicked 'I forgot my password' and it said 'Oh my god, you're an idiot' and sent me an email with a new one - a random password beginning with the letters 'idiot' :-D Love the humour.

I forgot my password as well, it started with 'moron'. :(

Me too. 'numbnuts'. :-)

Oh, and I can download the audio version of the video I bought for free - nice :-)

What's more interesting is that he got HBO to release their content in a DRM-free format. (HBO is the network that previously wouldn't let you buy their online video service unless you already had cable and an HBO subscription, rather defeating the purpose of buying the content online.)

This is what fighting piracy looks like.

Plenty of HBO content is sold a la carte online. But HBO itself is cross-subsidized from cable subscriptions. Their online service is not intended to replace their TV channel, but just augment it.

Also worth mentioning that they don't "let you buy" their content: it's just all free. All of it.

I know it sucks that you can't subscribe to HBO Go without being a cable customer. But for existing HBO users, it's a very, very well done service. The iPad app is gorgeous and well engineered. It has basically every epoisode of every season of every HBO series, all HBO original movies, and as far as I can tell nearly every HBO original documentary, comedy special, etc. And of course all of the movies HBO is currently running in their rotation.

HBO on Cable runs about $13 a month. I'm sure they could sell subscriptions just to Go for $20-25. But HBO wants to be a Cable service, not an Internet service. Nothing wrong with that. They're not luddites trying to avoid technology: they're using it very effectively. They're just using it in the way that suits their business model and philosophy.

"HBO on Cable runs about $13 a month."

HBO on Cable costs $13 plus whatever your basic cable fees, which after "introductory rates" often means $80/mo or more. Granted, you get more than just HBO then, but in the case that you just want HBO and nothing else there is no sanely priced option.

I'm sorry, and will accept any down votes this gets me, but: duh. Really. That was my entire point.

Though $80 is definitely inflated.

"Previously"? Did anything recently change with HBO? (Dear suits: please let me give you money.)

Somewhat related, I think his site has my favorite 'forgot my password' email ever.

  Apparently you forgot your password? Ok, so here's your new one, stupid:

  EMAIL:    xxxxx@gmail.com
  PASSWORD: moron.xxxxx

Are you saying that your password is reset to "moron." followed by your login?

Hah, no, it isn't. I reset mine as well and it was "moron." followed by some random characters.

mine was numbnuts.xxxx

I just bought both. You'll get 4 downloads for each show and can download MP3 and/or FLAC. Quality seems pretty good to me, but I'm not an audiophile.

"You get 4 downloads" Why limit it? It seems totally against the point. Why not even let people download a torrent and they can get the video on as many devices as they please and it wont even stress his servers.

Distributing by torrent is different from providing a quality download service with purchase. If someone really wants to download by torrent and wait then what's stopping them from paying and then doing that.

Limiting number of downloads protects their bandwidth from would be jerks. Protecting their service is important for their customers to have a quality experience. It's fair, and most people will only ever download once. If they for some reason use up all 4 downloads and want more they should e-mail them. Why wouldn't give more if some had a genuinely good reason for using up their downloads?

Torrent != copyright infringing downloading. What the commenter you're replying to meant was something like what Humble Indie Bundle did - after you buy the bundle, you can also officially and legally download it using bittorrent (as opposed to HTTP), not hitting their servers but rather volunteers.

Despite the vague "stickin' it to the man, we're all in this together" vibe (which I like), I'll note that his T&C is ten browser page-downs worth of text. Which is fine ...

I bought Shameless since Louis CK is awesome, and also because his advisors wanted him to put DRM and other crap on the shows and he refused.

Totally worth the money.

Yo How come nobody has mentioned teh fact that the "Word - Live from Carnegie Hall" mp3 Files dont work, only the FLAC files work. I know i'm not the only one who had this problem, ive dl'ed on two different computer and my fried said he had the same issues, we had to convert the FLAC files to mp3 format, no mention of this on the site or here. WTF

Folks, why do you upvote this?

I can see the tech aspect about selling DRM free media, alright. But this link goes straight to a site selling MP3s. In my books thats ADVERTISEMENT.

Don't get me wrong, I like Louis CK. But HN is really the wrong platform to exchange random entertainment links. Think about why you like this newsfeed, and help keeping it clean.

he also released his beacon performance as an audio download.

And those who bought the Beacon video, now get the audio as a choice!

s/a choice/an added bonus/

You get the audio in addition to the video now, whether you buy it now or in the future.

Stand up guy.

A guy self-publishes stuff on the internet. News at 11.

He's not "a guy". He's very famous and has his own TV show that he created, starred, wrote and post-produced on his macbook. Also, he's also selling his stuff, without a middleman, DRM-free and with a very decent price.

He is also managing to sell stuff that was from HBO, again, DRM-free and at reasonable price.

>He's not "a guy". He's very famous and has his own TV show that he created, starred, wrote and post-produced on his macbook.

So, "a famous guy self publishes on the internet". Does that make it MORE news-worthy? Famous guys have been self-publishing on the internet for a long-long time.

>Also, he's also selling his stuff, without a middleman, DRM-free and with a very decent price.

Like tens of thousands of other artists you mean? They even used to do this pre-internet, e.g. the music tape scene market, or the fanzine market.

I don't get what Louis CK does differently than any other. Famous and non-famous people have done exactly the same things before, from Stephen King and Radiohead to thousands of underground bands...

And if we remove the absolute "no middleman" rule (which is not exactly true in this case, he pays some service for the payment processing for example), and keep it to mean: "no media company/recording company middleman", then any of the tens of thousands of bands/artists that use a "submit to music stores/process payments" middleman TuneCore, CD Baby, etc are doing the same.

What's unique here is the whole package - the personal touch, the cheap product, the honesty and openness. I have never seen anything equivalent on any big-name person/band on the internet. If you have specific examples please share them because the Radiohead experiment was one-off and it has long since ended.

Of course small bands/artists have been doing this - they have no choice. Very few people break away from the comfort of big-business checks once they get there to try stuff on their own. You have to remember he could have lost a ton of money if the original experiment failed, but it did not because people respect it and supported it.

This is news because it proves DRM-free content at a low price can be a worthy endeavor that supports the artist directly - not because someone is selling shit on a website.

I think what batista is referring to is the amount of fanboyism on HN related to these Louis CK threads (and it shows, since his posts are turning grey).

The personal touch thing works because he is a comedian, it isn't anything new and exciting that hasn't been done before. It works for him because he is in comedy. Do you think the AWS homepage should have something like 'Yo dawg, I heard you like EC2, so get up in a m1.xlarge for only $0.08 an hour'? That doesn't work because it is a huge corporation employing thousands of people. The Louis CK site is representing one person, who is in comedy.

These endeavors work for him because he is one of the most popular standup comedians out there and is loved by everyone in the biz, so it is easy for him to go at this alone since he already has the fanbase.

I just hope that everyone isn't assuming that since Louis CK made $200k profit off of his last endeavor that they think they can demand HBO release Game of Thrones online, worldwide the same minute it airs on TV.

I personally have no particular affinity towards Louis C.K. but I can sympathize with disliking fanboyism threads on here. That being said I don't know why you attempt to equate this particular form of marketing to corporations or other non-artistic entities. It makes no sense, as you said. For artists and groups that people like, support and spend money to watch, I don't see why the mechanics of what Louis C.K. is doing wouldn't translate to success assuming a current baseline of supporters. After all if all major comedians did this then that would certainly cause a stir.

I don't believe anyone would make that correlation with shows. It does seem to support, however, that by offering such things at a low-cost (low barrier to entry) that they would tend to be just as successful as the package deals and other ways in which companies like HBO get you to buy them.

I have never seen anything equivalent on any big-name person/band on the internet. If you have specific examples please share them because the Radiohead experiment was one-off and it has long since ended.

batista already mentioned Stephen King.

It was sometime around 2000 and he decided to release a chapter at a time for free while accepting donations. He set some sort of barrier (I think it was 50%) and if the donations/downloads ratio fell below that, he'd stop publishing. After several chapters, the percentage inevitably fell under the 50% and he stopped publishing.

It was a novel (pun intended) experiment but at the time I certainly felt King was being quite antagonistic to the audience with the constant threats to cancel the experiment. And, well, I don't think the book was very good either, although it did go on to be published traditionally later on.

The idea of the e-book was very nascent at the time and there was no real understanding of what formats to use and on what devices (and e-books 10+ years ago were almost entirely for desktop use). If King did the same now using a Louis CK model, it would probably work well but.. heck, King doesn't need to try it because he's already as wealthy as any author should wish to be.

Interesting. I don't recall the King experiment.

I would think that after achieving a great amount of wealth/success that these people would actually lust after the idea of breaking all requirements from the traditional publishers and work directly with their fans. Obviously need would be helpful, but I don't think need is necessary for success. Want seems to trump need in these cases - which might explain why it doesn't work quite as well for no-name bands/artists.

The news is that he's part of the Big Content establishment, or at least he's as much a part of it as he chooses to be. He makes networks millions. And despite being part of that establishment, and having as much motivation as any other DRM-using publisher, he chooses to go DRM-free, and still makes money. His customers are happy, and he's happy.

The smack-talking personality and humor in his site copy is all icing on the cake, it's the money-making non-DRM sales that's news, relevant, and worth paying attention to.

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