I just bought Louis CK’s new comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, online. I went to Louisck.com, slammed $5 PayPal dollars down on the counter, and I downloaded the 1.2GB of video from his site. Judging from the response on Twitter, thousands of other people have as well. Even the kids at Reddit are buying this thing.
We don’t yet know if this is a true “commercial” success. But by “social media actually selling stuff” standards, the response is out of the ballpark.
Update, December 13th, 2011: Louis CK just shared his revenue numbers on his website:
The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th. 12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of Today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58). 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.
Update December 22, 2011: The special just crossed the one million dollar mark.
You know what’s funny? Louis CK hates social media. He doesn’t post to his Facebook page (even though he has 70,000+ fans). He hasn’t blogged since 2004. He’s nowhere on Google+. And on Twitter, which seems to have vaulted his Beacon video to “must see” status, he rarely tweets. The count, as of this post, was 437. He jumps on, promotes an upcoming show, and signs-off. That’s not a lot of interaction for man who has nearly 800,000 followers (Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t have many more than that and he’s tweeting constantly).
He’s breaking all the “social media rules.” You’re supposed to be constantly engaged with your fans: blogging, tweeting, live-streaming. Louis doesn’t seem to care; even though most of his young, tech-savvy audience is online.
Here’s what really matters
I don’t know how much Louis understands about business. But he gets this: it doesn’t really matter how “social” you are. What matters is having a great product. When you have a great product, people will talk about it on Twitter, at the coffee shop, and around the water cooler. And when you announce something new, people will wait for it with anticipation. They’ll be counting down the days, because they trust you and can’t wait to see what you have next for them.
When it comes to selling, social doesn’t matter; it’s the product that matters.