No announcement, no campaign, just a note to his email subscribers. That's how Louis CK dropped the premiere of his new web-series, 'Horace and Pete'.
Louis CK's mailing list works well for two reasons. For one, he got your permission. Even when you sign up, you get an email making you confirm you want to be on the mailing list. How refreshing! How many mailing lists have you ended up on without wanting it?
Those who hear from Louis want to hear from Louis. I hate being on mailing lists. Even when friends think they can just add my email to a list so they can push their band/movie/issue on me, it bothers me. But Louis CK I gave permission. Why?
Because of the second reason: I TRUST him. And he delivers! He's not begging you to buy stuff, he's just telling you it's there if you want it. When you buy 'Horace and Pete', you're buying direct from the source. There's no middle man.
Louis CK has been tinkering with the system for years now. He famously ditched the usual way of doing a special-a-year for the networks, in favour of self-producing and self-distributing. Who in the industry does that? Reminds me of when Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster, trying to make the art more accessible to the consumer. It was twenty years too early but now the artists are in a stronger position. If you have an audience, you can do things on your own terms.
It's like those YouTube artists who shun the Hollywood deals. Who needs to be in a bad, committee-made movie when your own YouTube channel has millions of subscribers?
What I love about Louis CK's new show is that it's niche. The reviews are saying it's more drama that comedy, but then why do I find it so hilarious?
A term that gets bandied around is 'Golden Age of Television' and we may be in it, but not for the reasons you think. We're in it because of people like Louis CK, who could create shows at any network or streaming service he wants, but instead does something like this.
The news outlets are reviewing it - but who cares? The reviews are irrelevant. 'Horace and Pete' isn't going to get a huge look-in audience. CK is preaching to the converted. Every reviewer on the internet could trash the show but it doesn't matter, because the only people CK has to answer to is his mailing list. And he doesn't even have to answer to them, because they're fans of his art - they'll go along for the interesting ride he's taking them on.
It's easy to write off what Louis CK is doing as being a result of his success. Most of us can't afford to hire Alan Alda for an impromptu web-series, but still there are lessons we can learn.
Make great art, and have a mailing list. Your list might only have sixteen people on it right now but those people are your people and if you keep your voice they'll be there twenty years from now.
Keep creating. Louis CK wasn't this good when he started out. Have you seen his old stand up? There were some laughs, but he was nowhere compared to now.
I don't claim to be entirely sure of what the Louis CK way is, but I can tell you he's one of the best writers and comedians we have. His voice means something. His work is saying something, and he's doing it in his own way.
I'm not saying you should watch his show. If you're not a fan, you probably won't like it. But if you are - then what are you waiting for?