After looking at the early figures from comedian Louis C.K., it was hard to call his most recent direct-to-fans venture anything but a massive success. After announcing that he planned to forgo Ticketmaster or any other similar service and sell tickets for his upcoming standup tour straight to fans on his website, Louis C.K. gave us some encouraging news:
Less than 48 hours after ticket sales opened up on his site, the tour had sold 100,000 tickets. With a flat cost of $45 per ticket, you can probably do the math. But for the lazy, that's a gross of $4.5 million.
"I guess it was a good idea," he said.
A few days later, he took to Twitter to warn people that scalped tickets would be no good at any of the shows on his tour:
not a single ticket on stubhub. If u see over-priced tix to this tour ANYWHERE, buying is a big risk. It will be invalid at showtime.
It was clear the Louis C.K. is very serious about this new model for ticket sales.
"Making my shows affordable has always been my goal but two things have always worked against that. High ticket charges and ticket re-sellers marking up the prices," he said in an email to fans. "Some ticketing services charge more than 40% over the ticket price and, ironically, the lower I’ve made my ticket prices, the more scalpers have bought them up, so the more fans have paid for a lot of my tickets."
So Good Guy Louis C.K. sincerely wants his shows to be more accesible to his growing throngs of fans. That's absolutely believable considering last year he released his latest comedy special online, DRM-free for $5. Louis C.K. started a trend with that "Live at Beacon" release - one that was shortly followed by the likes of Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan.
Despite his warnings and good intentions, it's unavoidable that people have seen the low $45 price money and vision of scalping danced through their heads. A quick trip to StubHub shows four tickets available for his October 27th show at the New York City Center - and they're going for around $245 a piece.
Or, about a 450% markup.
Louis C.K. has addressed the scalpers in a statement to Laughspin.
Here’s where we are with the scalpers as of now…
I’m doing 67 shows on this tour and we’ve sold 135,600 tickets to those shows after one week on sale.
In addition to the tour, I’m doing two shows in one city that are on sale through traditional ticketing.*
So as a comparison…There are 1100 tickets available on stubhub alone for those two traditionally ticketed shows out of 4,400 available ( Almost exactly 25%). and these shows aren’t sold out yet.
There are less than 500 tickets available on all scalper sites (including stubhub) out of the entire 135,600 tickets that have already been sold, from the tour sold exclusively on my site, louisck.com (substantially less than 1%)
So it’s working. So far.
He's right about the breakdown of tickets. The two shows (Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City) not being sold for $45 on his site currently have over 1100 tickets available on StubHub alone. Plenty of his other shows are available on StubHub, but each of them only offer a couple of ticket as available. Two-four mostly, and occasionally as many as 16-20.
Our goal is to get even these 500 or less tickets back into the hands of fans at their original price. How we are doing that is our business that I won’t share right now. But so far our plan is working and we have learned a lot. The main message I’d like to convey to ticket-buyers out there is that buying a scalper ticket to one of my shows is a tremendous risk (well, a risk equal to how much you paid for it).
Contact with these scalpers has been enlightening. They tend to respond with indignance and a defensive posture “Hey man! Scalping is NOT a crime!” We’re not treating it as a crime or even a wrong-doing. We are just competing with them, on behalf of my fans, to enforce the terms and conditions of our ticket sales and to keep the prices down. It’s worth the effort, it’s working and it’s even been kind of fun.
Jesus christ, these shows better be fucking good.
Has Louis C.K. figured it all out? I'm sure he'd tell you no, but he continues to have success doing it his way. And you, the guy sitting on your couch laughing your ass off, should be happy about that.