I was reading on Twitter during the week that Richard Herring (@herring1967) was being contacted by people who were telling him that they had downloaded (illegally, free of charge) his new DVD. I find this absolutely incredulous.
I think that everyone, whether they choose to admit it or not, is partial to a bit of piracy every now and then. Obviously I never ever download things illegally. Ever. Especially if I’m chastising that very practice (!) But those that do often cite that they download through torrent sites and that if they like the work of that artist that they’ve downloaded, they will then buy the product itself. As arguments go, it’s a flimsy one at best, but one that would only stand up if it were an artist who wasn’t readily available, and it’s made even worse by contacting the author of the work to tell him you’re swindling him out of money. It must be like someone tapping you on the shoulder as you’re withdrawing money from a cashpoint and telling that, after a cursory search for a job, they couldn’t find one so they’re taking your money. Absurd. In fact, on reflection, it may well be more like writing a blog post when you’re at work and being paid to be doing something more work-based, something that I admit to being guilty of, but I digress.
Like him or loathe him, Herring is one of only a few comics around that constantly puts out new material online free of charge, including podcasts (via 6 Music, Absolute Radio and also the "Collings & Herrin" podcast) and stand-up shows like As It Occurs To Me. There’s also tons of stuff on YouTube going back years. There’s no excuse for not supporting him by buying his DVD or purchasing tickets to his gig. If you don’t like him, or feel that he isn’t good enough to warrant paying to hear, then stick to the several hours worth of material that the poor guy sticks online for free every month.
I wish more comedians would follow his methodology, producing free content for fans to enjoy. Herring has proved that it is possible, and he seems to be reaping the rewards of his hard work, with more regular tv work as well as a recent Radio 4 series. They say that the harder you work, the luckier you get, and long may his luck continue.