It’s only been a few days since Louis C.K. made his latest stand-up special, Live At The Beacon Theater available for $5 on his website and perhaps the biggest question everyone asked since was, “did this self-released experiment work?”
Yesterday C.K. finally pulled back the curtain and gave us all the scoop on everything. As far as cost, the comedian revealed that the production cost (cameras, crew, etc) was about $170,000 between putting it on in New York and having a production team there to shoot, this was largely paid for by the ticket sales of the two shows that night, so any profit he would have made went right to that.
In addition, C.K. put about $32,000 into his website to make sure he had the bandwith and the capabilities to stream and download the special without any interruptions for the positive customer experience. He stated, “we worked for a number of weeks poring over the site to make sure every detail would give buyers a simple, optimal and humane experience for buying the video. I edited the video around the clock for the weeks between the show and the launch.”
So, adding on the time it takes to develop new material, the total cost to the comedian is around $250,000 in personal expenses before a single dime was made.
The sale launched Saturday, December 10th at 12 noon, C.K. stated, “2 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website.” As of the time of his statement, the special sold 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. After PayPal charges and other miscellaneous costs, the comedian reports his profit is around $200,000.
Not to balk at six figures made in a few days, to put this in perspective, he also revealed that he put more personal work into this special than all others others and “this is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video.” He also mentioned they probably would’ve had more of your information/data, something digital with DRM, and a more difficult way to get it.
C.K. also mentioned, “if anybody stole it, it wasn’t many of you. Pretty much everybody bought it.” So to him it’s been a successful journey thus far and ultimately expressed wanting to sell future stand-up specials in a similar manner.
The lesson learned, support the comedians you love and they’ll be able to continue to figure out interesting ways to deliver you the goods. And before it’s even brought up, let’s squash any ideas people in internet-land may get saying he’s made enough money and it’s time to stop the support and start getting the special illegally.
You can read Louis C.K.’s complete statement here.