Louis C.K. Says He’s Sold $4.5M In Tickets To His Shows In 45 Hours All On His Own

What’s that sound you hear? That high, lonesome keening? It could be Ticketmaster, weeping at the loss of profit it could’ve made if Louis C.K. had let it (or another ticketing company) handle the sales of tickets for his upcoming tour. But instead, the comedian says in around 45 hours, he’s sold $4.5 million worth of $45 tickets himself. Those must be his lucky numbers, 4 and 5, eh?

The potty-mouthed star of the popular FX show Louie tweeted the news on Wednesday that shortly after announcing direct ticketing tactics for his new tour that he’d sold 100,000 tickets already. He’s charging just a flat rate of $45 for every show on the 39-city tour, which starts in October.

He tweeted:

“well. after 45 hours, my tour has sold 100K tickets, box office gross of 4.5 mil $ (not all mine). I guess it was a good idea.”

Louis C.K. had good reason to think this plan would work, after selling downloads to his Live at the Beacon special for $5 a pop on PayPal proved successful. It made more than $1 million in 12 days.

Louis C.K. on Twitter [Twitter]

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  1. Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

    Excellent!

  2. PunditGuy says:

    This isn’t rocket science. It’s barely computer science. I’d imagine there are off-the-shelf cloud solutions from the Amazons and Googles of the world that would make Ticketmaster completely irrelevant with just a little effort.

    Anyone know how Louis C.K. pulled it off?

    • Hi_Hello says:

      etix.com

    • Marlin says:

      The problem is, even CK points this out, he has to go to smaller venues as TM has contracts with the larger ones.

      So even if you want to sell direct you will be locked out of most larger and well known arenas. So for a act like his his is kinda ok but for larger music groups that have a lot of eqipment and such its a cluster f__k.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        That will change if larger acts with huge crowd draw demand to be allowed to sell tickets on their own terms.

        • j'peaux says:

          When Pearl Jam brought their complaint against Ticketmaster to the Justice Department in the 90s that’s what they tried to do, but they couldn’t book the large venues they needed without Ticketmaster support. And if a band that was as huge as Pearl Jam was back then couldn’t change the system, I don’t have much faith in it being changed. It would take a concerted (pun intended) effort on the part of a large number of large venues and acts together to overthrow the Ticketmaster empire.

          And BTW, I’ve also noticed smaller ticket sellers who still charge exorbitant fees, which still pisses me off even if it’s not Ticketmaster. Kudos to Louis for selling his at a flat rate. I really wish more acts did this, even if it is an uphill battle.

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        Though I wonder if more people start doing this the venues might reconsider those exclusivity contracts with Ticketmaster? Nothing will happen tomorrow of course but maybe over time when the contracts expire and need renewing.

        • veronykah says:

          Its not necessarily that venues even have contracts with Tickemaster or LiveNation some venues are OWNED or leased by them. I work for a LiveNation VENUE which is pretty big in Los Angeles. They have a multiple DECADE lease on the building. Sad really. I avoid going to anything I can’t buy tickets direct for since paying 1/2 the ticket price to Ticketmaster or LiveNation is something I refuse to do.

        • Warren - the Original Chocolate Cake with Eyes! says:

          I agree with Crispy and Atlanta: if the money goes elsewhere, the venues will either change or die.

          I think what Louis is doing is great. Hopefully other artists will follow and cut out the greedy middlemen.

      • Mambru says:

        Why not perform multiple times on the same venue?

    • LizziePoo says:

      Apparently, he had to put a huge amount of effort into the endeavor. According to an interview today with the Hollywood Reporter, he and his agent personally went around the country to every city where he couldn’t book the venue he used on his last tour. In each city, they personally had to visit and consult with area venues in order to find ones that would allow him to self-distribute tickets. See below:

      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/louis-ck-tour-tickets-louie-season-3-342590?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thr%2Fnews+%28The+Hollywood+Reporter+-+Top+Stories%29

      • little stripes says:

        Damn. That is amazing. This is exactly what we’ve been asking for, isn’t it? For entertainers to step up to the plate?

        He is ahead of his time and a revolutionary.

        • LizziePoo says:

          Absolutely. He’s a really amazing person, and the great thing is that he fights the good fight not out of some misguided need to rebel or stick it to the man, but because he’s just a reasonable person who wants to do things in a reasonable way that benefits all involved. I’m almost tempted to say he should go into politics or public service or something, just because we need pragmatic-thinking people like that.

      • Cacao says:

        That effort was $4.5 million worth it.

  3. highfructosepornsyrup says:

    This is nice to see, but where are the gigs? I thought the ticketbastards pretty much had a monopoly on the venues and you had to play ball in order to use the spaces?

    • Marlin says:

      Dumpster behind JFK will be July 8th, the KFC by the over pass in chick hill Kentucky will be July 11th, The old Exxon station near the golden coral in Swampville FL will be July 15th, etc…

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        The venue for Denver is not the biggest in the city, but it’s still a very large venue.

    • regis-s says:
      • who? says:

        All of the venues that I know anything about appear to be 2500 seat halls that are typically used for classical music. Not the biggest in town, but often the nicest. Definitely a better experience for someone attending the show than the typical 15,000 seat arena.

        • little stripes says:

          Yep. Smaller venues are always really great for stand-up. He’ll be at Celebrity Theater in Phoenix this year. I saw him in the much larger Dodge Theater last year and it was fun, but Celebrity Theater is way more intimate.

          I STILL remember my Dave Chapelle show, all those years ago, at the Celebrity Theater. 3rd row. I could almost touch him. It was magical.

          I can’t make it to CK this year and I am genuinely really, really bummed.

    • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

      Well, short of stadiums and indoor arenas (think pro basketball or hockey size) he has 2 of the largest, well known spots in Baltimore (Meyerhoff Symphony Hall) and Washington, DC (The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts). Just the kinds of places an act like his would play.

    • MMD says:

      He’s playing Symphony Center in Chicago. Not too shabby.

    • milk says:

      The venue in Austin is a beautiful, historic theater downtown. Granted it only holds 1250 people, but at least he’s doing two shows.

      • milk says:

        Scratch that; I was thinking of someone else. He’s in a swanky new venue downtown that has a capacity of 2700.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    Ticketbastard/Livenation: But, but, but, it’s hard to sell your own tickets, you’re too small to do it on your own, economies of scale, efficiencies, big companies provide better service, yada, yada, yada.

  5. StarKillerX says:

    This is great, but let’s be honest and say that if he hadn’t already made a name for himself, under the old ticket and cd selling system, he wouldn’t be able to pull any of these publicity stunts as everyone would simply ignore him.

    Simply put, he’s a big name so when he does these things it gets all sorts of coverage so he doesn’t really even need to advertise.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      What’s your point? You think people are just trolling around the Ticketmaster website looking for random shows of bands they’ve never heard of? In addition – why would a small-time, unknown act need an enormous venue like the ones Ticketmaster has contracts with? They’re 99% more likely to play gigs at bars and restaurants that charge a flat rate (or nothing at all).

      I don’t consider this a publicity stunt as much as providing the groundwork for a strong point to be made – that the big ticket sellers aren’t the be all end all and you can succeed at selling out shows without them. That’s the free market talking right there, no one forced these people to buy tickets outside of Ticketmaster.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Would ticketmaster care about shows that aren’t popular? Would the venues?

      If you don’t have a name for yourself already, why are you live in concert as the main event anyway?

    • theycallmeGinger says:

      Right. If his name wasn’t so big, Ticketmaster wouldn’t have felt the burn. Because it is, not only does he stick it to TM, but it’s a successful template for others to follow.

      A smaller name wouldn’t have made a dent in any of their scammy practices. This may not either, but it’s a positive move in the history of price-structure battles. It’s sending the message that we shouldn’t be forced to use an anti-consumer middleman. Go Louie.

    • little stripes says:

      It’s more complex than that and I think you know it.

      Of course part of it is because he has the freedom to make his own choices. But it’s still a huge risk. And it looks like it’s succeeding. Which is going to make it easier for others to follow.

      Pearl Jam tried and failed. I think stand-up has a better chance, and the fact that I think Pearl Jam was just way WAY ahead of its time, maybe a little too much. I think Louis CK is coming in at the exact right moment.

    • Mambru says:

      Of course, Pearl Jam did (does) it too. In order to get the message across you need big names to set the standard.

  6. naenae78 says:

    I’m not surprised to see that he’s doing so well with these sales. We did get some tickets for theh show in Dallas, and I’m super excited for it!

    Valid points in other comments, but I sure hope other artists see this and think about doing something similar. I’ve always hated buying anything from Ticketmaster when I see the ridiculous fees they add on to everything. Sure, this is a small step, but hopefully it leads to something better for consumers and artists.

  7. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    I went to check out the show dates and wound up looking at his concert recordings. At the bottom of the form on his site, it says:

    “I’m going to be offering other things through this site. Would you like to hear about them?
    Yes, I’d like to receive further emails about Louis C.K. things.
    No, leave me alone forever, you fat idiot.”

    I f*cking love this guy.

  8. GenXCub says:

    Remember when Pearl Jam tried to do this in the 90’s and Ticketmaster used its power to make venues unable to allow them to perform, and they had to pick odd, out-of-the-way places for their $20 shows?

    Won’t that just happen again due to the contracts that Ticketmaster / Live Nation enters with these venues?

    • Marlin says:

      That was my point above. For a comedian HE is the act, equipment, backstage hands, etc… CK gets on a plane and does his act anywhere he wants.

      But for a Music group its harder due to many members of the band, backstage help, equipment, power requirements, etc…

      I can see more people like CK doing this but for music TM still has the lock down.

    • Kuri says:

      Well, keep in mind that was the 90s. The internet is a much more powerful tool now.

    • little stripes says:

      Pearl Jam was way, way ahead of their time. The internet has changed the game.

      Also, what Marlin said. And to expand, Stand-up is its own monster. Less restrictions than a big rock band. Far more flexibility. A loyal cult following. Far more intimate.

  9. Jawaka says:

    It it really necessary to always refer to him as “the potty mouth…”

  10. econobiker says:

    Again- if artists could control the ticket profits and take away the margins from the ticket sales giants and especially scalpers- the artists might be ok with giving away music…

    • who? says:

      If the artists could do away with the middlemen, they might still not want to give away the music, but they *could* make more money charging the consumer half as much.

  11. jojo319 says:

    I wonder if those political fundraisers are really only $20, but there is $39,980.00 in Ticketmaster fees.

  12. Gman says:

    I am very surprised we have not seen Ticketmaster or one of their agents sue him for some crazy ironic claim. Like they think he should not be the only one to hold 100% of the ticket sales or be the only source for ticket sales.

  13. KyBash says:

    Good for him!

    I don’t personally like his brand of humor, but l heartily applaud his support of those people who love him.

    • who? says:

      Exactly. I’m not exactly a huge fan. I doubt I’ll ever go to one of his shows, but I *love* what he’s doing, for both the consumer, and as a model for other artists.

  14. little stripes says:

    This seems to be the best analysis:

    http://consumerist.com/2012/06/louis-c-k-says-hes-sold-4-5m-in-tickets-to-his-shows-in-45-hours-all-on-his-own.html/comment-page-1#comment-2545936

    Given the comedian’s success, which seems to be benefiting both him and his fans in equal measure, are we headed for a world without ticket vendors and distributors? Louis C.K. is, perhaps, exactly famous enough to make this sort of thing work. He’s enormously popular, but still far from a household name. Word of the deal went out first to his email subscribers and Twitter followers, so most of his biggest supporters had first crack at the cheap tickets. It would be harder for a smaller name to foot the initial costs, or to get venues to agree to such an arrangement – something that C.K. admits was difficult. Were he any bigger of a name, the ticket vendors might be panicked enough to take measures to stop him.

  15. Demoliiton Man says:

    Glad to see Officer Dave Sanderson going outside of Ticketmaster to sell tickets to his show. Let’s just hope he doesn’t have to arrest some belligerent guy sneaking into his own van named Tom Haverford.

  16. TD99 says:

    Well, at least $10 of the $1 million from his “Live at the Beacon” special came from me. I’m on his mailing list and got the message about his $45 shows. I would have purchased two in a heartbeat, but he’s not performing anywhere in So Cal, unfortunately. Just goes to show what a stronghold that monopoly TicketMaster has.