The Writer’s Strike and Why You Should Care

writers_strike.jpgBy now I’m sure you’re all aware of what’s going on in Hollywood. The Writer’s Guild of America (the entertainment union that represents working writers across the nation) has instituted a strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. There are a few issues on the table that concern them, but the biggie, and the one getting the most press, is the fair remuneration to writers for content delivered over the internet. As more and more studios realize and use “new media” as a viable and powerful revenue model and distribution platform, the creative individuals that dream up the movies, TV shows, and videos that are now being streamed, want a piece of the action. They don’t want to see a re-take of what happened when DVDs hit the scene (in short, the amount of residual payments writers get for DVD sales is minuscule because at the time, the argument was made that DVDs would never hit it big. So the per unit amount assigned to writers was extremely small, vs. what they got for VHS tape sales).

So, why should you care?

Well, aside from the fact that you have to watch repeats of your favorite shows, and for the fact that there’s a good chance that <gulp> the Oscar’s may be bumped, there’s another reason why you should care. That is in realizing and embracing the power of new media to market your business.

What Is “New Media”

New Media is traditionally defined as those technologies coming on the scene which open up new distribution channels and communication networks for individuals and companies to connect with large audiences. Names like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, podcasts, Digg, del.icio.us, Flikr, iTunes, blip.tv, Brigthcove, and many, many more, are just a small sampling of new media websites or technologies. New media is quintessential Web 2.0. It’s about empowering the “little guy” to reach the same number of people that previously only mega corporations could reach, and only after spending billions in ad dollars. How else do you explain a stand up comic wearing an orange Crush T-shirt and faded jeans can have more people watch him dance on stage to a series of nostalgic 80s and 90s pop-tunes than who watch some of the most popular shows on TV (the aforementioned video has almost 73 million views on YouTube).

This new media is particularly beneficial to we independent content producers. We now have the means to get our work seen. You no longer have to wait for that proverbial “big break.” Got a great TV idea that you’re positive will be the next “Lost,” but J.J. Abrams office won’t return your phone calls? No worries. Just produce it yourself and use any number of video distribution sites like Revver, Veoh, blip.tv, or Brightcove to serve it to the masses. And what’s better, if it’s actually good, something people would pay money to watch, almost all of these services allow you to monetize your content via shared ad revenue, pay-per-view, or download purchasing. You’re only limited by your imagination and Chutzpah.

What about the pro photographer or videographer? Why should we care?

Many of our blog readers are small studios that provide personal, commercial, and/or event photography and/or videography services. If you’re one them, you may be asking “Why would I care about all this “new media” talk? I’m not producing any online TV shows?” Maybe not, but 1) perhaps you should and 2) there are other new media technologies you could be using to help grow your business.

Here are just a few ideas of how you can use new media technologies to market yourself:

  • Produce a local online video or audio podcast related to the industry you serve (e.g. weddings, corporate events, etc.) Establish yourself as an expert in that area and use the podcast to network with other professionals in the industry.
  • Produce iPod/iPhone versions of your videos/slideshows that you upload to your blog to allow your client to download and share with their friends and family.
  • Become an expert in video podcast production and offer that as another service to your corporate clients and show them how they can use it to market/grow their business.
  • Use online communities like Facebook and LinkedIn to network and keep yourself in the forefront minds of potential clients, collaborators, and employers.

The Final Word

It’s been estimated that the writer’s strike has cost $1 billion in lost wages, advertising, etc. Major televisions are coming to a halt. The most anticipated award show of the year may not happen. When you consider the impact of this strike and the new media controversy behind it, how can you deny the importance and significance of these technologies. If you’re not already using them in some way to grow your business, you’re missing out.

And let’s hope the strike ends soon. We don’t want the last words written by these talented artists to be the real “final” word.

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