On the one hand, this article in today’s LA Times puts the spotlight precisely where it belongs in today’s EMI labor environment – on the impact that digital distribution is having, first, on corporate revenue models and, second, on the effect these changing models may have on income earned by workers in the heavily unionized EMI sector.
But notice what is missing! While employer representative Nicholas Counter slyly suggests that he shares the “fear” (“I feel your pain”?) of EMI labor caused by the “brave new world,” nowhere does the article point out that the uncertainty caused by the new technology has not stopped big players like Microsoft and Google and Disney from carving up the pie. And when Microsoft sat down with the studios earlier this year to carve out a deal for content to be provided by studios for its online presence they certainly had revenue projections available and engaged in some tough negotiations about how much of the pie would stay on the studio side and how much would stay on the distribution side!
Notice what the Times does – in the face of uncertainty it predicts, almost dares, EMI labor unions into a STRIKE! But if EMI labor can advance a strong argument about the value it creates for the entire EMI sector it can boost its power at the bargaining table and secure significant impact on revnue sharing. This may mean bringing more than just the producers to the table – after all, the real power is in the distribution side of the business as the experience with DVD’s proved. That is the real challenge in the next two years for the unions in this critical sector of the economy.