Movie Business = Music Business minus 5 years?

Interesting post from the ever-excellent Silicon Alley Insider: Sorry, There’s No Way To Save The TV Business

As with print-based media, Internet-based distribution generates only a tiny fraction of the revenue and profit that today’s incumbent cable, broadcast, and satellite distribution models do.  As Internet-based distribution gains steam, therefore, most TV industry incumbents will no longer be able to support their existing cost structures.

Here’s the gist: we’re all going to be out of work in five years.  Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth is that I don’t see much of a future for the industry.  THAT IS NOT TO SAY THAT I DON’T LOVE THE BUSINESS AND WANT TO DO THIS FOREVER, but the fact of the matter is, especially with post-production, job levels are taking a nose-dive and revenue streams are not far behind it.  I mean, we already have internet-equipped televisions, internet video on the rise, and more people then ever on the internet, so the technology is there.  How long before the industry has the rug pulled out from under us, just like the newspaper and record industry?

And things are already dead in this town.  What from the Writer’s Strike, the SAG “strike”, and the down economy, I can’t image jobs ever getting back to the levels they were at when I first moved out here.  I don’t want to say that we’ll never find a way to work, but if you’ve got any ideas, I suggest you pick up the phone and call some industry executives, because they want to know.

Quick link to a recent episode of KCRW’s The Business: Below The Line and Under The Gun.  It’s probably the best description of the job market facing us below-the-line’rs in this town.  Only problem is that it doesn’t even address the job market for post-production, because with the addition of technology to all these problems, editorial staffs have gone from double-digit crews to maybe two or three people for multi-million dollar projects! You want to talk about too much supply vs. demand, here is your example #1!

I’d love to hear what anyone has to say about this.  Hell, talk me down if you think I’m crazy.  I would love for someone to make me feel better about this.  Please comment!

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3 comments
  1. FRM said:

    Don’t worry, Rob. The business is just shifting. Like the music business, the technology and skills needed to make high-quality products are falling into the hands of *gasp* amateurs and filmmakers with impaired fundraising skills.

    Ten years ago it was unheard of for someone to self-produce an album. Now, if you’re not working on an album you probably live in Milwaukee and just haven’t realized you can make an album.

    The discussion as to weather or not this is a good thing is for another time. In fact, it’s probably irrelevant because it’s happening, like it or not. Take heart, you’ve got skills and experience. The work will come. It’s a simple matter of adjusting to a new hierarchy in the creative community.

  2. John said:

    BUT it’s true! The music industry is dying. The RIAA is suing poor single mothers to “strike fear” in the hearts of downloaders, ASCAP is suing AT&T to make money every time your phone rings and Ticketmaster and LiveNation are trying to monopolize the touring industry. The music industry is falling fast.

    Likewise, the movie business is falling behind the times. Producers won’t agree to the digital download royalties industry professionals are due. Blockbuster and other rental revenues are way down because of NetFlix and sites like Hulu (whose even now cutting back). Then there’s the cutting out of essential elements of film like actors and writers to make reality “fishbowl” tv.

    If there’s any consolation in any of this though, it’s the rise of indie or DIY approches to the art of making film or music. Trent Reznor in music or The Guild in film are such examples. So there’s hope but is this the beginning of the end for film as we know it, as in music? YES.

  3. Thanks for this post Rob. Especially the reference to “The Business: Below The Line and Under The Gun”. I listened to a couple of the shows and loved it.

    I don’t believe the world of film or music will ever end. As long as the creation of art aids in the sale of a product, then there will always be more art. I propose that everyone that makes a movie adds $5 to a jar, then votes on their favorite movie out of all submissions, and the winner gets to take the jar home.

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