Standing alone means raising the bar
I love the fact that Louis C.K. unclogged the pipes to direct distribution. I also love the fact that Aziz Ansari showed that it can be done again.
Don’t know what I am talking about? Exhibit A: Louis C.K.’s personally produced special. Exhibit B: Aziz Ansari, being himself.
In the past, comedians didn’t get to own their work. They had to water down their words, their voice, their talents to satisfy an endless stream of constituents other than the viewer.
Why? Because you have to listen to who pays you if you want to get paid.
But now, as comedians and other acts find themselves being able to create a product directly for the consumer, there is no other customer than you. While that seems like an incredibly liberating proposition (and they clearly say it is), it’s going to raise the bar.
The old media infrastructure isn’t parasitic. I know it’s easy to think of them that way, but they did provide true, real, tangible value: marketing, distribution, advertising, logistics, etc., etc. The list goes on and on and on. Comedians liked this because it gave them access to markets and customers and channels it didn’t have before. It helped.
But now, the world has changed. The problem is that the value these old models provided just aren’t worth it. In other words, “It’s not you. It’s me.”
Since those support mechanisms are going away, that means comedians are going to have to raise the bar to overcome the competition. Because no matter how much we think the new model is superior to the old, the old model still has a lot of power.
Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari, and those who will come after, will not only have to figure out how to do all the things, but they will have to compete with the old machine. Now only that, as vanguards of things to come, they risk the ire of the old guard.
They will have to make up for the lost support by being funnier, leveraging new marketing channels, learning about how to best make use of technology, or all of the above.
So when you buy their shows, think about how pioneering and scary this must be for them. And think about how amazingly multi-talented these guys are. I am.