How Louis C.K. is Changing the Entertainment Industry
Louis C.K. recently launched his web series “Horace and Pete” on his website. The series is about a family who owns an Irish bar named Horace and Pete’s. The cast is pretty impressive, including Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Steven Wright, Kurt Metzger, Alan Alda and Jessica Lange. The series is only available on LouisCK.net for a few dollars per episode.
Louis C.K. made his first personally distributed online release with Live at the Beacon Theatre in 2011. Since that time he has produced and released several other comedy specials of his own and also a few from close friends like Tig Notaro and Todd Barry.
What Louis C.K. is doing is shaking up the comedy industry. He no longer has to shop his specials to Netflix, HBO or any other network for distribution unless he chooses to do so. However, at this point with the success of his self-produced releases, Louis doesn’t need these channels for distribution. He has cut out producers, and countless others from taking a large chunk of what he is solely responsible for creating. Louis has this luxury because of years of hard work creating a fanbase who have proven loyal enough to purchase individual releases from him directly.
In ways this opens the door to others doing the same. It has always been possible for someone to attempt to release their own material without distribution from a major company. However, more are seeing through Louis’ example that it is possible to do successfully. This is forming a change in mind-set in the industry among its participants.
Horace and Pete was released without fanfare. No big marketing push, just an email as plain as could be.
What this meant was you had to be very interested in what Louis C.K. was putting out to even pay $5 for the first episode. He didn’t really even go in to what it was about or why you should watch it. He didn’t need to. Fans on the Louis C.K. mailing list know what quality of product he puts out. He has earned their trust and are very likely to purchase new things that Louis puts out regardless of the marketing wording. His work stands for itself.
This is another major change that Louis is part of in the entertainment industry. People are becoming connoisseurs of entertainment. They are the marketing machines who are driving sales and creating ‘buzz’. They advocate for the things they like and their friends grow to trust them after repeatedly finding satisfaction from their recommendations. A consumer driven entertainment model is very different from the force-fed marketed vehicle we are used to. It is amazing and the future of all modern consumption, even beyond entertainment.
Does this mean that anyone can put out a web series and charge for it? No, certainly not. A quality product has to be produced and that product much reach enough fans that it creates a demand for more. There are lots of hours of thankless, payless work that need to be accomplished to get to even a 10th of the level of where Louis C.K. is. Lots of failed projects, lots of tears and lots of time you will never get back. Louis has put in the time, soaked up the tears and bounced back from failed projects.
I am very excited for this shift in the entertainment industry. Thank you Louis C.K. for once again proving you are a forward thinking entertainer. People in the comedy industry have a lot to learn from you.