Saturday, May 16, 2009

An erroneous title, and the profits from selected giveaway strategies (the knights who say "Euro")

After I wrote my Saturday morning post entitled What is your name? Wolfram Alpha. What is your purpose?, I discovered that I had mistitled it.

If you go to, you will see that I should have used the word "quest" instead of "purpose."

KEEPER: Heh heh. Stop! What is your name?
ARTHUR: It is Arthur, King of the Britons.
KEEPER: What is your quest?
ARTHUR: To seek the Holy Grail.
KEEPER: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
ARTHUR: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
KEEPER: What? I don't know that! Auuuuuuuugh!
BEDEMIR: How do know so much about swallows?
ARTHUR: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king you know.

The text is from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And since this is a business blog, I should mention that the members of Monty Python (well, five of them), figuring that if you can't beat them, join them, have uploaded copyright clips from their productions, including this movie. They don't have the bridge scene online, but they do have the killer rabbit scene.

And, of course, the members (well, five of them) did this for completely altruistic purposes. Well, not exactly. Matt Safford:

With a nod to the fact that illegally uploaded Python clips made up a large chunk of the early content uploaded to YouTube, the homepage of the Monty Python YouTube channel asks fans to buy the troupe's DVDs in typical Monty Python manner: "We're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there! But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies and TV shows, and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years." And with a little help from YouTube click-to-buy ads embedded in the videos, sales of the comedy troupe's DVDs on went through the roof and straight into orbit, climbing to the number two position on's Movies & TV bestsellers list. According to YouTube, that's a sales jump of 23,000 percent. No matter how you count the numbers, they add up to an impressive sum for a 40-year-old TV show whose best bits are already available for free online.

But this success story isn't necessarily universal, as Safford notes:

But it's important to note that both Monty Python and Nine Inch Nails have notoriously loyal fans. A $300 "ultra deluxe" edition of Ghosts I-IV, limited to 2,500 copies, sold out soon after it was offered online. That's the kind of fanatic following most pop stars and upcoming artists just don't have.
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