The Economist: Babbage Blog | G.F. | Digital content: Take it all offBut the guy grinding out open mic nights on Duluth isn't going to be able to sell the DRM'ed, $25, studio-backed album either!
Now, of course, [Louis] C.K. has the advantage of millions of fans from his live and television performances. He receives praise from his fellow comedians and appears regularly on late-night television. His [DRM-free, low-cost, independent] approach would probably not work for someone appearing at open-mic night in Duluth once a month.
I'm getting tired of this argument that you need to already have an audience in order to use non-traditional distribution models. People like Jonathan Coulton have already used the low-cost, no-DRM model to launch their careers. A lot of comics artists have used similar approaches.
Counter-examples aside, in what other industry would you hear "Don't try a different sales strategy; you can't break in unless you do everything the traditional way"?