Louis CK, The Amazon App and the Changing Face of Popular Culture

Echoing the unique marketing methods of Radiohead and other musicians who’ve tried various ways to connect more directly with their fans, comedian Louis CK self-funded the production of a concert video last Saturday which he also streamed directly on his web site and where, for the low low price of $5, you could both stream and download the DRM video up to two times after it’s initial broadcast.

To those who might wish to “torrent” this video: look, I don’t really get the whole “torrent” thing. I don’t know enough about it to judge either way. But I’d just like you to consider this: I made this video extremely easy to use against well-informed advice. I was told that it would be easier to torrent the way I made it, but I chose to do it this way anyway, because I want it to be easy for people to watch and enjoy this video in any way they want without “corporate” restrictions. Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I’m just some guy. I paid for the production and posting of this video with my own money. I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me. So, please help me keep this being a good idea. I can’t stop you from torrenting; all I can do is politely ask you to pay your five little dollars, enjoy the video, and let other people find it in the same way.”

Sincerely, Louis C.K.

As someone on Reddit pointed out, often piracy isn’t a theft problem as an access/trust problem.  If you make it easy for people to purchase your content and trust them with it (eg. no DRM), they will do this.  I’m not a major fan of Louis CK but threw my $5 at him because, hey, beyond supporting this approach in general, I also get a full concert video for less than a fancy coffee at Starbucks.  How cool is that?

Variety has an article about how this approach is already and may further impact a variety of cultural industries including music, movies, books and so on.

On the other end of the spectrum (or maybe not?), Amazon has released a controversial app and offered users $5 discounts to go into stores and send back pricing information from bricks and mortar competitors.  MetaFilter has a good discussion about the ethics of this, how it further undercuts traditional bookstores as well as where libraries/used bookstores also fit into this new world where business-as-usual approaches (media companies, traditional publishers) are being pushed out of the way by new, tech-based approaches (direct from artists and/or new media companies.)

More from MetaFilter.

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