Dec 312011

We’ve got The Adam Carolla Show.
This podcast is the new “radio.”

And, we got Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater.
This is the new “comedy special/show/album thingy.”

Vulgar, offensive, painfully honest, and wildly hilarious – these two seemingly low-tech pasty white guys in their 40s are the unlikely heroes of contemporary entertainment technology. And to the comedy entertainment industry’s version of The Man, they are the harbingers of impending catastrophic doom.

When, How, and What – Direct to the People
Self-characterized as somewhat crusty and curmudgeonly, Carolla and C.K. aren’t your traditional tech pioneers. What makes them such is their execution; through skilled use of digital production technologies, they’ve begun a fundamental and profound change in the creation, funding, format, and delivery of their respective entertainment products.

In this new model, monolithic, myopic, and hopelessly entrenched studios, networks, and production companies who’ve spent the past decade-plus impotently tossing their wooden shoes into the machine – they’re completely shut out. There is no FCC regulation, no censorship, and profit moves directly from affiliates & sponsors in Carolla’s case, and direct from the consuming public in C.K.’s.

And what’s happening here is this: technology is amputating entertainment’s stifling broadcast regulations along with the overbearing, parasitic, and increasingly irrelevant middleman.

So What’s With Carolla?
In February of 2009, Adam Carolla and team released their first podcast. They’ve since collected a stable of advertisers (from the ManGrate to Nissan), a Guinness World Record for most downloaded podcast, a profitable Amazon affiliate relationship, and a highly effective promotion platform for Corolla’s traveling show, books, and the other podcasts produced under the umbrella of his Ace Broadcasting Network. In these few short years, Carolla has set an example, or business model as it were, for hundreds of other voices – comedians, experts, celebrities, or enthusiasts for whatever – anyone can create a podcast, and should it find an audience, sponsors can now step up and offer cash/promotions/whatever. Ridiculousness, refreshing irreverence, and the long-form interview – served anytime & anywhere listeners choose.

And What about C.K.?
Louis C.K. dropped his latest show just a few weeks ago, and it is the first-ever high-profile comedy special delivered directly from the creator, via the internets, to the people. Live at the Beacon Theater was financed and produced by C.K. without any influence or meddling from, well – anyone other than himself. He set up a slick and simple website for distribution (complete with the comedian’s trademark self-effacing tone), shunned DRM and region restrictions, and sent it out into the world for $5.00/copy. As of December 21st, 2011, he’s grossed over a million dollars – with about 75% being net profit. C.K.’s fans can drop their $5 and stream, download, or do whatever they want with the product. Fans know that they’ve purchased an artist’s unadulterated vision, and what they’ve spent is not lining the pockets of entertainment industry racketeers.

And Now the Word is Out
Clearly both Carolla (WP) and C.K. (WP) do not have the purposefully dorky presence of geek-chic comedic contemporary Chris Hardwick and his Nerdist network (ironically, Hardwick’s podcast is very much a product of Carolla’s lead). I think it’s safe to say that they themselves didn’t set out drop a tech bomb on the entertainment industry. And of course, both these guys already had name and traditional careers before the maturation of their current delivery technology. But whether they saw the opportunity themselves or were urged on by their respective teams & collaborators is irrelevant, what matters is the example these comedic veterans have set for both contemporaries and up-and-coming entertainers.

That is, you no longer need The Man.

It’s a Good Thing, Yo
A while back some entertainer of some sort, I don’t remember who, said they thought the reason people initially stole music online was simply because they could – it was novel. But the reason it continued was because most, not all, but most of the product is of such low quality that it poisoned the well, and no one could really justify to themselves a reason to actually pay for anything. It was all just crap, filler, hollow, safe, focus-grouped brain candy – so who cares?

With what is now ubiquitous technology, Carolla & C.K. have shown that if you produce a genuinely good product and make it reasonably accessible, your audience will support your sponsors or pay a fair price for what you produce. As consumers we no longer have to passively accept the filler in hopes of finding that little chunk we actually like – we can actively and loyally go directly to what we want.

So props to Adam Carolla & Louis C.K., 2011’s Technology Heroes.
Now go listen & watch – you’ll laugh.

Unless you’re uptight.



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