18 November, 2007


Small Things Stupid Package:

Fight The Power!: A Mixtape For The Writers Guild Of America

" Here in Studio City, I live across the street from CBS-Radford studios. Picketers from the Writers Guild of America have been on the street here all week. It's a grim time in the Film/TV business. Negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP have broken down and become increasingly bitter. The main issue is how to divvy up the profits of New Media- internet downloads and streaming video. New Media is destined to be the successor to DVD, and has been for some time. Yet the studios insist that they haven't found a way to make New Media profitable, so it would be presumptuous, in their eyes, to make a deal with the people who create content to share profits that supposedly do not exist. Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, always good for a laugh, says that if anyone is really to blame it's Steve Jobs, and that if the strikers should be picketing anyone, it's Apple, because they continually outsmart the studios with their crafty itunes deals.

So there you have it. Creative people cannot possibly hold the studios to the standards that Steve Jobs has set, so it is unjust to expect to share profits that the studios are too stupid to make. Thanks for clearing THAT up, Michael!

Or, as Indiana University professor Mark Deuze (more intelligently than I) puts it:

In a way, writers and producers are increasingly disempowered by developments in the digital age and the increase in runaway production. I'm thinking about the parties that are involved in the conflict: directors, producers, writers, actors (and through them a wide network of affiliated businesses): these are all creative labourers, the talent that makes the media work. What I am arguing is, that this conflict and its framing perhaps is a reflection of a deeper unsettling trend in the industry: the increasing irrelevance of talent as a major source of investment throughout the media industries, as the economy shifts to consumers (instead of mass media-era producer-driven markets) and thus power shifts to those who control the pipelines rather than the content (cable companies, telco's, access providers).

In the meantime, thousands of crew members, assistants and those in businesses related to the industry have been laid off. These people, who stand little to gain regardless of the outcome of negotiations, will be hit the hardest of all: A long strike will impact them the hardest; these are, by and large, not affluent people. Many live paycheque to paycheque, and will lose their homes, cars and health insurance.

And what am I going to do about it? Make a mixtape. This is the only way I know how to show support for the striking writers, and I hope that it makes a decent soundtrack for the struggle against the corporatisation of America which is at the heart of this conflict. "


The "mixtape" actually consists of downloadable mp3s rather than an actual cassette tape but that's, perhaps, being too pedantic. It's a fracking brilliant compilation and highly recommended.

(If you use the Firefox browser, install the Down Them All plug-in, filter for mp3 and you can avoid having to click on each file to download)


Tom said...

Eisner is talking out of his arse. I get the impression that he's bitter because a year after he stopped being CEO of Disney, the Mouse House started providing iTunes with content for download. In May this year, they were quite happy to talk about the numbers of downloads of both movies and TV shows and about the comparitive revenue made from both. Eisner, on the other hand, tried selling a web only based show (I think - wasn't actually interested enough to find out more) which didn't sell - probably because no-one had heard of it.

I've got links to all the sources about the Disney/iTunes deal in a post on my blog - sorry to pimp it here in your comments but it saves me having to filter out all the links. The main point to notice is that, while it doesn't quote Bob Iger directly, it paraphrases him as saying that the profit made from an internet download through iTunes is on par with that of a DVD.

Anonymous said...

Eisner's bitter cos since he left Jobs now owns Disney (is the largest shareholder).

huh... then again - maybe writers should be picketing outside Steve's house.

Robin Kelly said...

I was wondering what Eisner's motivations were.

Here's an interview he did in the NY Times where he deliberately lies about what the Internet issue is.