Last Saturday, Louis C.K. put up a new comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, on his website, downloadable for five dollars, with a note politely asking people not to download it illegally. Today, he's $200,000 richer.
I haven't watched the special yet, but if it's anything like his others, it's, well, hilarious. And while, as C.K. points out, he probably could've made more money selling the special to a cable network, it seems pretty plausible that he'll continue making money on this for a while and could eventually beat the larger lump sum that a network would've given him. A decisive victory for digital distribution, right? A nail in the coffin of the parasitic entertainment industry?
Well, yes and no. Louis C.K. might be the only person who could do this right now. After decades of paying his dues, he's finally broken through to a large audience, without ever "selling out" (is that still a thing?) and therefore a) many people want to check out his shit; and b) he has enough hard-earned credibility that when he asks people not to download said shit illegally, they don't.
Still, it's a wonderful thing that he did (as he says, "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," and it shows), and it's pretty heartwarming to see someone deserving get rewarded for being so defiantly himself. If Dane Cook had done this, we wouldn't be nearly so happy for him. But then, Dane Cook wouldn't do this; that's why he's Dane Cook and Louis C.K. is Louis C.K.