Somewhat inspired by the actions of Louis CK, Jim Gaffigan is planning to release his next stand-up special through his personal website for the price of $5. Similarly, proceeds from the sale will go to charity, in this case, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, a non-profit supporting injured service members and veterans.
Gaffigan said of the special: "I know I am taking a risk here. However, I am incredibly motivated by the courage of Louie [sic] to offer his fans direct access for a low price. Buyers of my special can be assured that their money will go directly to feeding and raising my four children instead of a giant corporation."
I'll be the first to admit that I am not particularly familiar with the bulk of Gaffigan's work outside of his appearance as Murray's best friend on Flight of the Conchords, but I have an interest in promoting this special, as I am an advocate for this new direct model of creative distribution that removes the middle man, drives prices down, cuts down on the waste produced in making and shipping an unnecessary, disposable physical product, and rejects the notion of regional restrictions.
I am hopeful that this trend will continue. It's a fair deal that convinces us to part with our cash, and clearly, comedians stand to benefit from the move, both in terms of revenue and in maximising their artistic freedom. We know that the money made is going directly to the person that deserves it, and the pricing is low enough that users should feel guilty about resorting to torrents and other illegal means of acquiring the content for free. Speaking from experience in the aftermath of his own distribution experiment, Louis CK said, "if anybody stole it, it wasn't many of you".
Part of what made Louis CK's sales pitch so compelling was how open and honest he was about the whole process. Gaffigan appears to have mirrored this approach as much as possible in his press release, and for good reason. It's hard to argue with Louis' success, pocketing (then redistributing) over $1 million dollars in roughly 12 days .
Encouragingly, it's a model that could be scaled up or down and repurposed by those lacking the budget for such a professional production. There are comedians on our shores that already handle their own digital distribution - Simon Munnery, for example, operates his own digital store through PayPal, offering MP3 downloads of previous Edinburgh shows and other recordings. I'm hopeful that others who already run their own physical mailorder operations may be encouraged to go in this direction in years to come.
When Jim Gaffigan's special is released in April, please consider buying it, if not in support of the man himself, then in support of this distribution model in the hope that others will follow suit. As far as I can see, we, as an audience, can only stand to reap the benefits from it.