This week has been great for the “pay what you want” model, and DRM-free, straight-from-creator-to-audience sales models with Humble Indie Bundle and comedian Louis CK hitting one out of the ballpark. Sign of times or lucky exceptions to the rule? What do you think?

Fast take off for the latest HIB

Humble Indie Bundle is out with its 4th edition (for the uninitiated, it’s a collection of cross-platform, DRM-free games sold as a “pay what you want” bundle) and looks like this one will trash the records set by the previous bundle that brought in a total of $2,167,519.10.

The nice aspect of HIB is that you can donate some of the money you pay to a charity (it used to be EFF but this time the guys switched to Red Cross). Turns out that people give up to 5 times as much money when they pick the charity option.

Techdirt has a good post on it and I recommend reading their excellent Lessons Learned From ‘Pay What You Want’ that looks into one of the failed experiments with such payment model.

Louis CK is a big name comedian doing shows in places like the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. This is also the place where he had a film crew shoot one of his latest stand up shows. But instead of going down the usual route and distributing the material via a publisher he slapped the video up on his website, DRM-free, put a $5 dollar price tag on it and hoped for the best.

It’s not quite Flattr but we’re supportive of any scheme that takes away the middle-men and helps build a stronger relationship between the creator and the fan (“consumer” just sounds wrong here).

4 days later 110,000 people had purchased the show, covering his production costs and earned him a solid profit.

I learned that money can be a lot of things. It can be something that is hoarded, fought over, protected, stolen and withheld. Or it can be like an energy, fueled by the desire, will, creative interest, need to laugh, of large groups of people. And it can be shuffled and pushed around and pooled together to fuel a common interest, jokes about garbage, penises and parenthood.

Louis CK also seems to be learning a lot of the lessons we’ve experienced in Flattr – people don’t pay for what you do because they like it, they actually get more invested in you, they’re more enthusiastic supporters but they also want to know how much you’re making, how are you spending it.

The successful comedian posted a super interesting overview of the whole ordeal if you’re interested in learning more about his experience.

7 thoughts on “Humble Indie Bundle and comedian Louis CK – challenging the establishment

  1. As a long-running HiB supporter (except for the 1st one, couldn’t afford it, believe it or not), I agree too that when people can get stuff easy, without trouble (no troublesome DRM), and cheap, they’ll get it. Hell, if they can set their own price, people may even pay MORE than it is worth, and certainly earning the creator a LOT more than they usually do. Everything about these things is just solid evidence to that.

  2. What is so amazingly great about this whole shift is that it allows for trust to be the central element that both the consumer and producers are focused on. By this I mean things like DRM, coercive advertising, marketing gimicks, and playing to the lowest common denominator don’t have a place in the #neweconomy.

  3. A while ago I read Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom novel. The characters in the story earned currency by how much people liked them and/or their work. It looks like we’re starting to head in that direction, and right now, I’m really optomistic about that.

    BTW, a lot of his books are available for free download, and he suggests if you like his work, to buy a physical copy—and then donate it!

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