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Comedy Feel Good Story (sarcasm alert): The Successful Failure…

If you do not listen to my podcast then the beginning of this blog will seem new, but if you do listen, then endure this paragraph before getting to the good stuff.  This year, feeling a sense of creative and economic depression (I have raised my debt ceiling for the last five years and I hate myself – I am like Obama and Ted Cruz in the same body – dear closeted gay Tea Partiers this is NOT a sexual image for you to flog yourself to), I embarked on a plan to raise my profile and when my name recognition was at its highest (at least relative to my own career) release my best album and hope for the best.  So the plan started off with a bang with “Louis CK Tells The Classics” the viral video of my Louis CK impression.  I then made subsequent videos (Alt Wolf, Scared Straight) that got spread all around and promoted within the comedy world.  I then had an album recording that went well, but not as well as I wanted (plus three critical bits were forgotten) so I recorded another set a month and half later and killed it to the point that instead of integrating the missing bits into the original recording I ended up integrating two bits from the original recording into the later show for the album.  I then got a PR person to book me on some podcasts, get the album reviewed (to some glowing reviews), was on Sirius XM as their Intergalactic Premiere album of the week, was 24-7’s guest comedian of the weekend said a couple of prayers.  I even got a retweet for my album from Amy Schumer (her half a million followers indicates a slightly larger reach than my 1200).  In other words, in a world without a manager or an agent or fame I sort of did all that could be done to produce and promote a good album and my name.

Also giving me hope was the fact that my previous album was downloaded 1000 times (granted it was a free download) and received 70+ ratings/reviews on iTunes. So the only barrier to reaching that level (if not beyond) was the price tag on iTunes of $9.99 (or $8.99 on Amazon).  I figured that might create a dip from 1000, but at the same time I thought it might not be as big a dip because I am more well known in October 2013 than I was in February 2012 when Too Big To Fail was released.

Well the results are in (at least on iTunes) and downloads dipped a whopping 90% for Keep My Enemies Closer compared to Too Big To Fail.

Huh?

I have been wondering how this happened.  Obviously people like free stuff, but at least for me I would not download a free album from someone whose comedy I did not care about and by the same token I would absolutely purchase the album of a comedian whose work I like.   So the question is how does someone go from 1000 downloads and then produce a better album, with an upgrade in publicity and name recognition and then dip 90%?

The album did its best work on day one when it peaked at #12 on iTunes, but because it is not attached to any label or manager it failed to get into the new and noteworthy category.  So now it just hangs out on iTunes telling my other albums that it peaked at 12 as they go “bulllsh*t – you are just another J-L anonymous album – you are not better than us so shut the fu*k up.”

Now I know this blog can sometimes read like a comedy career suicide note, but this is really an open question (feel free to leave comments in the blog’s comment section) – is there something in the comedy world (the deluge of free content, the ever increasing importance of managers and power brokers in comedy to raise the profile of comics to the larger public, etc.) to explain this?  This is not me wondering why KMEC is not above Eminem and Pearl Jam on the iTunes chart, but rather how a better product (even if you think I suck at comedy (i.e. idiots), this album sucks least of anything I have produced) with better name recognition and better promotion can fare so much worse all for adding an $8.99/$9.99 price tag?  This year has sort of been an experiment by me – if I offer quality products (blogs, videos, podcast appearances, podcasts, etc.) for free and then ask for people to pay for one comedy thing (the album), then all the free stuff and the effort would pay off with one nice pay day.  But it did not really pan out. 

So what I am asking or saying is that like the American Dream is sort of a myth that very rich and fortunate people tell the masses (the increasing poor and the decreasing middle class) so that they continue to grind away in the myth machinery, is the do-it-yourself concept the same for entertainment?  Then you become a vilified as lazy or unworthy if you are not making ends meet.  The story America tells you is that hard work is the respected value, but in reality success, regardless of how attained, is the value of the day.  Plenty of wealthy people work hard for sure, but we now value results or “winning,” rather than how you play the game (but how many people would really work as hard if they knew the game was rigged?)  Similarly, I feel like the comedy industry loves telling people that it is a great time to be a comedian and that you can make your own success.  Then they point to the 1-2 examples in existence of people without connections who made it big on their own (and just like tax schemes and campaign finance law that help ensure that the rich shall continue to increase their share of power and influence – places like YouTube have changed over the last year or so to reduce the power of the random video at the expense of promoting preferred content providers) and therefore it is possible and all fault for lack of success lies with the comedian/content provider.

But using my own career over the last decade (but especially over the last 20 months) this is sort of debunked, isn’t it?  All things equal I have had 50,000 unique visitors to my website in 2013, had my podcast listener average increase from 200 to about 400+ people per week, gained over 310,000 YouTube views to name a few metrics, which were huge increases from 2012 and yet by charging $9.99 for an album instead of free, led to a massive drop off in downloads.  I know this sounds like complaining, but it is really more confusion than anything else.  I long ago gave up on getting rich from comedy, but this year has taught me that producing high quality content, building your circle of fans/viewers/listeners means little in increasing your bottom line, if you are truly a do-it-yourself artist.  I am a sample size of one so take it for what it is worth, but the very fact that all things were equal because it was me.  The only variables were I was a lot more well known in 2013 (a good thing), had a lot more PR (a good thing) but I charged $9.99 instead of free (death).  The question is then how can you make money off of your art if without fame or industry backing people will consume your free content, but not pay for even a small amount of it?

So if you have not, please check out Keep My Enemies Closer on iTunes or Amazon and join with me in being confused why it has been less successful than Too Big To Fail.   Have a nice week.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

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11 Best Righteous Prick Episodes of 2012

Why would I conform to a top 10 list, when the whole point of my podcast’s first year was to be defiant and contrary to popular trends?  My first year of podcasting I received just over 10,000 downloads and listens and angered dozens of people.  The idea behind the podcast was not to be another comedian interviewing comedians on their own terms or about themselves, but to debate, challenge and attack things people enjoy.  I wanted it to be funny, but also an extension of my comedy, which I try to make thoughtful and at times combative.   One person told me this year that I treat comedy like a bloodsport and perhaps this is too extreme, but the participation trophy culture both in comedy and in America is the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction in my opinion. So I thank you for supporting my own weekly culture war. I hope you enjoyed and I hope you can help the podcast gain a bigger following (more likes, comments and followers on Podomatic, more subscribers and reviewers on iTunes).  This list should be a good place to start and share with friends.  Happy New Year.

TOP 11 RIGHTEOUS PRICK EPISODES OF 2012

1. The  Louis CK Episode with Josh Homer – The most downloaded episode of my podcast by a mile for good reason – for all the claims of me being a CK hater, Josh and I engage in a very deep discussion of comedy and whether CK is as great in product (and not just work ethic) as people think. (the intro audio is bad, but the main audio is perfect)

2. The Lebron James Episode with Eric-I, Brian McGuinness & Rachel Arbeit – I flipped the script and actually defended LeBron James from an onslaught of irrational haters.  A few weeks later, James’Finals MVP validated plenty of what I said.  And you can hear me actually lose my cool for once on the podcast.

3. The Fantasy Football Episode wth Andrew Schwartztol & Luke Younger – I trash fantasy football and it is fun for haters and lovers of the “sport.”

4. The Walking Dead Episode with Dan Soder – I sit and debate with one of NYC’s rising talents (I am categorized as one of NYC’s sinking talents) about a zombie show that is wildly popular, takes place in Atlanta and manages to have about 8% black people.

5. The Adam Carolla Debate Episode with Justin Williams & Katrin Heir – I defend the “Podfather” concerning comments he made about the relative humor of women.  Second most downloaded episode and me at my lawyerly/Carolla-y best.

6. The Porn Episode with Kevin Bartini & Justin Williams – One of the funniest discussions of the year on the podcast concerning the merits of porn.  Highlight: Organic Porn.

7. The Golf Episode with Ray Field – I have never been a golf fan, but I am a huge fan of this fun and light conversation with golf writer Ray Field.

8. The Key and Peele Episode with Josh Homer – a probing discussion of race and comedy about a hit show that should embarrass us all.

9. The Wine Episode with Janelle Carter – I drink wine when socially necessary, but the snobbery surrounding wine culture just comes off as sexual frustration, and i tell that to wine lover/blogger and law school classmate Janelle Carter.

10. The Marathon Episode with Deanna Culbreath – 2012 brought Sandy, which brought disdain for marathoners who wanted to still run the NYC marathon. Well I was 6 months ahead of the curve with this debate versus super-marathon runner Deanna Culbreath.

11. The Chicken Wing Episode with “The Ultimate Wingman” – I almost felt bad about destroying the chicken wing and its number one fan because he was such a nice guest.

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Too Big To Fail on iTunes – Help Wanted

This is a very simple post.  My new album has been available for free for a month on my website – you can download it here (still for free for another couple of weeks):

https://jlcauvin.com/?page_id=3578

My album is really good.

But of more importance today is that my album is now available on iTunes right here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/too-big-to-fail/id523993775

If you have the free copy of the album, if you don’t have it or if you feel like being generous and buying it through iTunes please do me a favor as a reader of this site and presumably a friend or fan of what I do – go to the iTunes link and give the CD 5 stars (and if feeling generous with your time please write a nice sentence or two about the album or my comedy).  Please do this as soon as you are able to and ask friends and family to do the same in this time period through Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.  It costs nothing (unless you want to be nice and buy the album) except a few seconds and will really help me out.

That’s it.  Thanks very much. And I hope you enjoy the album.