The Louder Than 11 Business Model

Free whether you like it or not:

We choose to give away our videos for free because the cost of distribution is zero and we want as many people to see it as possible. Free removes the cost barrier for our audience to see our video. And the cost barrier for our audience to share it with others. As our work improves and our audience grows it increases our visibility within the community and industry.

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29 Responses to The Louder Than 11 Business Model

  1. Guest January 30, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    translation: one of us has a trust fund

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    • Sarah January 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      I know these guys personally and none of them are trust fund babies. They are all extremely hard working and they do what they do because they love it. And by all means, that doesn’t mean that you have to love it. They are actually extremely open to constructive criticism. However, you should probably know what you are talking about before you say it…

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    • Brian Cleary January 30, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Wow, what a jackass.

      I have no idea about their individual backgrounds, but you should not assume that this could only be achieved through trust fund douchery.  A wise man once said, “turns out you can just do awesome shit.”

      And so… don’t be a dingus.

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  2. sweatpants January 30, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I’ve wondered about this myself.  I enjoy the videos and all of the hard work they put into their projects that they give away for free.  It has always seemed like a flawed ‘business model’ though because I’ve never been able to figure out where money to sustain this comes from.  I agree that viability and exposure is great and they get plenty of it, but that in and of itself doesn’t usually pay for bills or trips very well, so it has confused me…

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    • MABoulders February 1, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      Watch the videos closely, you’ll often see Dave trying and trying and trying something, and at times stripping down to his boxers.  But everytime he feels like he is close to sending something hard, you’ll notice his 5.10 shirt reappears…..

      Not knocking Dave, he is a heck of a nice guy, and has my vote as “Person least likely to take things too seriously”.  Just pointing out that there are sponsors involved, even if subtly.

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  3. Eli Powell January 30, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I saw the LT11 yosemite video at Prana on Friday, and they talked a little about this.  The other side of the equation was that they noted “our commerical work supports the free work”. 
    I applaud their work and vision, but I will note based on what I’ve seen from them and other outdoor creatives, you often get what you pay for.  There’s a reason Big Up and Sender charge for what they do, and it certainly comes through in their work.

    Eli

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  4. Doug Lipinski January 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    As far as I know, the “trust fund” angle is just false and these guys have other jobs as well as the commercial work that really pays for LT11. The MYFO, Free Whether You Like It or Not strategy sure is getting them a lot of press though. Here’s another article from today: http://www.coloradodaily.com/outdoor-recreation/ci_19836453#ixzz1kxjNIvbs

    Personally, while I don’t usually like the gimmicks they try (giant coming out of Lincoln Lake?), they make entertaining and high quality videos and seem to have a great time doing it. I’ll keep watching every vid they put together.

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  5. mb January 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    with regards to the comparison with Big Up and LT11, it’s probably easier/cheaper to do local bouldering videos for free than rigging a camera on top of clark mountain too…  the quality of LT11 is very good i think.

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    • Dave January 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      The ease of doing bouldering videos is what has led to the massive increase in spray over the last few years.

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      • Pete W January 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

        Anyone who thinks there is more spray today than there has been in the past wasn’t climbing in the early 90’s in Smith, Rifle, Southern France, England, The rest of France, or anywhere else on planet Earth. 
        You can just read it on your iphone now. 

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  6. Alex January 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Free because who in their right mind would pay for one of their videos?

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    • Patrick January 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

      I for one would.  Park Life was about as good as any bouldering video I’ve ever seen.

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  7. Bblox January 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I dont see why anyone is comparing them to Sender or Big Up. These are kids. Making bouldering videos. I doubt they expect to compete with the big name climbing films. Seems to me that they are just having fun showing people what they love to do.

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    • Adam January 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

      The comparison is valid.  Big Up was started on a shoestring by the Lowell “kids” who were just a bunch of NY boulderers with strong friends.  LT11 has the opportunity to grow just as much, albeit in a different way.

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  8. Bert January 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    I very much like the videos LT11 produces.  I would imagine the free aspect allows for greater exposure.  I would also guess their sponsors enjoy the exposure.  Wouldn’t this eventually lead to greater compensation for the makers?

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    • Louder Than 11 January 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

      That’s exactly it.

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      • Dan January 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

        Good theory but then the market also has to accept your films as superior to the rest of the free films.  They are good.  I’m a fan but there are a lot of talented guys out there now who are doing some really good bouldering shorts and have similar aspirations.  It would scare some people out of their minds to think that they have to be on the cutting edge of the industry for the entirety of their business lives, especially when that cutting edge is dangerously close to the fine line of gimmicky/overdone films.  Even more so to think that they have to get to the cutting edge and explore new technologies and ideas with a very limited initial budget for an unknown amount of time.  

        I guess what I’m saying is, I’m a fan.  Good luck I wish you all kinds of success, but I’m glad I’m not you.

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        • Jordan Shipman January 30, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

          That’s true–we certainly strive to produce the best free media out there and the market will (and does) let us know if/when we succeed or fail. We’ve taken lots of risks and made some silly shit. But we always learn a lot more that way rather than playing it safe. There will just be more and more people making quality free climbing films too. Cutting edge technology is becoming democratized. So much in fact–companies like Apple are dropping the “pro” market products. The gap between consumer technology and pro technology is always closing. Ultimately it will all come down to creativity. Something else we strive to improve every day. Our creativity is the one commodity we own that no one else can compete with. And vice versa. We can’t compete with another’s creativity either. It is as unique to them as it is unique to us. It then becomes, is our creative work–our artistic expression–what the client wants to buy? Anyway, I’m just talking but I also think what we are doing is more than a “theory” at this point. We have a long way to go before we get to where we want to be and it is not going to be easy but it is working and we love what we do. Thanks for the support and wishing us success! We really appreciate it and means a lot to us. We are serious when we say we couldn’t do what we do without the support of the fans. That’s why I wrote that post. Just want people to see where we are coming from. Cheers!

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  9. Andrew January 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    I enjoy the Lt11 videos.  If you don’t like it, don’t watch or bitch.  Please discuss…

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  10. guest January 31, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    I thought they were free because they use unlicensed music, and it’s illegal to charge for videos with music when you haven’t paid for it?

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  11. Nick Rhoads January 31, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    F’n HILARIOUS that so many people don’t understand the free content marketing model! Let these guys clean up while the rest of ya are stuck in the 20th. Good luck!

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  12. Andrew Bisharat January 31, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I love the LT11 videos, but I find it odd that the business plan is being discussed. I liked Yosemite Life, but I rolled my eyes when this type of commentary came in.  Just make great videos, make them free and no one will really why they are free. 

    I think also LT11 has a very unique style that works really well and I am interested to see them branch out and make videos that are not just of themselves bouldering. It’ll be cool to see them tell new stories beyond their immediate sphere. Good luck guys! You’re very talented and I am sure you will go far. And thanks for giving us such good content … for free!

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  13. Bob Banks January 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    I’m all about free porn and I couldn’t give a shit about the business model that allows it to be free. Watching Park Life, I kept asking myself, “Wait a minute, are these clowns actually making a film about how they were able to make the film?”  Personally, and I know I’m not alone, the value of porn is this: “How does it hold up with repeated viewings”. I’ve watched The Real Thing probably 100 times since it came out and even though there’s some very nice footage, I’ll never watch Park Life again.

    Also, a note to all climbing filmmakers: there’s a special place reserved in Hell’s “Sodomy Lounge” for anyone who puts another ‘bloody flapper’ on film. They’re not funny, they’re not gross, it doesn’t matter how bad, how deep, how bloody or what cool shape it is in. Thank you.

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  14. anonymous January 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    The problem with a business model like this in this industry is that is revolves around attracting viewers, mainly climbers who like to watch internet climbing videos, who in my experience are avid climbers, and as we all know, most avid climbers have no money and barely support the industry as is.  Most large companies that make climbing equipment make much more money from the equipment of more main stream sports, LaSportiva, Black Diamond, to name a few. Even if you attract tons of viewers by giving them free videos, your core market is full of dirtbags (no ill intent) and advertising on a site that attracts bums can’t possibly make sense for a large company to buy banner space on. Furthermore, now that it is known that a company like LT11, with the aforementioned business model, gives it’s stuff away for free, commercial spots will make less money for the company and attract companies with no money hoping to get a free promo or, lowball the hell out of you. One other big problem, people believe that expensive things are better.  Giving away a product lessens the perceived value of that product. Mostly everyone is right that this is not terribly difficult filming in relation to the stuff BigUp and Sender Films are producing, uses copywrited music sometimes without credits, and seems to revolve around bouldering trips that the cast were going to go on anyways, and shot between burns… The odd thing is that while thousands of folk are doing the same thing quietly, filming themselves or their friends boulder, then posting it to a free video site, like youTube and now Vimeo (because it looks more professional), LT11 seems to think they are different and notable.   
    That being said…
    FREE STUFF IS GREAT! Keep up the work guys, a lot of it is entertaining, we can all see your passion and dedication and your quality improve. Thanks! 

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    • Jordan Shipman January 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

      You sound familiar anonymous . . .
      1) We don’t rely on web advertising to support our business at all.2) Our commercial work is not limited to the climbing industry.3) Its funny people keep telling us how our business model will end up working when I’m trying to explain how it DOES work. Our increased exposure, traffic and quality does not lead to companies “low balling” us because we make free climbing videos. It is quite the opposite. 
      4) Thanks for your support!

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  15. Onusbonus January 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Not related to the post at all, but I think Lincoln Lake Giants is one of my favourite climbing movies. Call me strange, but it is up there on my list along with Dosage…keep up the great work! 

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  16. Rod February 2, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    the best film they made is obvious…..MOORES WALL!!!!!!! Ha..

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  17. AC February 3, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    i am a full time professional photographer and a rock climber. i make 96 to 98 percent of my living shooting images outside of the climbing industry. the images i produce of climbing that do get sold earn so little money relative to my regular photography job that i might as well be giving the work away for free anyway. however, it does pique the interest of my paying clients enough that they hire me more often because of my climbing work. so… i completely understand where these guys are coming from. i do hope they’re charging market rate to their sponsors for advertising in their videos — otherwise they’re doing the rest of us working pros a huge disservice. 

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