Funny money: Louis CK, on turning subscribers into sold-out shows

When you think 'email' and 'comedy', what probably first comes to mind are bad-taste office forwards. However, for US comedian Louis CK, email isn't only a laugh-a-minute pastime, but big business, as well.

Louis CK. Photo by wwwesb

Louis CK is a tireless self-promoter, but not in a flossy, reality TV kind of way. While other comedians have attention-grabbing sidelines like collecting cars, Louis is known for making business and marketing decisions that are as pragmatic as his brand of humor - from hand-picking venues, to selling all tickets via his site.

We recently listened to an interview with Louis on ESPN's The B.S. Report and found that his savvy extends to email. If you've followed his work, you may have remembered how he sold his show, 'Live at the Beacon Theater' at $5 for a digital download and grossed $1.1m in the process. Well, as it turns out, each time the video was purchased, buyers were given the option of signing up for email updates. The result was 220,000 new subscribers on his list.

"Bypassing the middleman is totally possible in 2012.
It totally works."Louis CK and Bill Simmons, The B.S. Report

According to the B.S. Report piece, this newly-expanded list made itself useful when Louis announced an epic, 4 month tour across the US. Instead of appearing on talk shows or fashionably dropping hints on Twitter, Louis announced his tour via Campaign Monitor. While the campaign itself was quite wordy, it sure worked - 15 of the 30 initial US shows sold out in less than a day, amounting to 75,000 tickets. It goes without saying that when you're filling major venues at $45 a seat, twice each night, you're doing pretty well with "no advertising whatsoever" (his words).

You can listen to the B.S. Report here - the email marketing bits are 56mins in. And before you ask, tickets were already sold out at my local venue before I could even pull out my wallet. Louis CK, if you're reading this, could you kindly announce another tour?

Posted by Ros Hodgekiss

1 Comment

  • James Olney
    12th July

    It says quite a bit about the loyalty of his fanbase though as I gave up reading his email after the first paragraph. Way too wordy for my liking.

    But no matter how you look at it - a pretty awesome success story!

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