If you haven't heard about Louis CK's newest stand-up special, read this:
The experiment was: if I put out a brand new standup special at a drastically low price ($5) and make it as easy as possible to buy, download and enjoy, free of any restrictions, will everyone just go and steal it? Will they pay for it? And how much money can be made by an individual in this manner?
By all accounts, "the experiment" is a pretty big success. Louis wrote that December 13th, when he reported roughly $200,000 profit. 4 days after first putting the show up for sale. That's without relinquishing ANY of the rights to this new product he's created. That's amazing.
Obviously, not everyone is Louis CK. He's got an audience to sell this stuff to in the first place because of the exposure he's gotten in traditional venues, but what about the guy that comes AFTER Louis?
CK isn't alone in this new "straight to the people" effort. Kevin Smith took his latest film, "Red State" nationwide with a Q and A and screening tour to pay back the cost of the film before pursuing Video on Demand and overseas distribution rights. But again, Smith got famous making movies. Real, honest-to-god, realeased-in-theatres, promoted-by-big-studios movies. He's been on Jay Leno and Entertainment Weekly. He's not an internet celebrity.
But the next one could be. Louis' "experiment" is a perfect example that you don't have to give up control of your product or self to find success as an artist. Designers, photographers, writers, film-makers, comedians, musicians, painters etc. Just do what you want to do. The internet is vast, we are all connected. If anyone else likes the thing that you do (and let's face it, someone probably will, we all saw that "Friday" video) then you can sale it directly to them.
It's no different than bands or rappers selling demo cd's (or tapes if you're old enough to remember) out of their trunks. It's just that when you've got broadband internet, the whole world can come shop at your trunk. I bought something out of Louis' today.
Moral of this story: Quit pouting about other people stopping you from doing your thing. (This moral is for me as much as anyone).