Following HMM’s recent call for nominations for “Digital Drivers,” a colleague asked me who I think are the individuals most responsible for driving change in that market segment. I responded that simply asking “who” yields an incomplete picture. We also need to ask “which,” as in “which companies and which industry organizations are having an impact.”
When identifying the influentials in our industry, we often forget to think especially about organizations. Perhaps I’m a bit sensitive about this, as I am the president of one of those industry organizations. But it is not simply about promoting the Entertainment Merchants Association (although I’m happy to do that).
Rather, it’s recognizing the vital role that industry organizations, both formal and informal, play in creating the conditions for a strong home entertainment industry. To be sure, the power of an individual with a vision and the leadership skills to realize that vision, is irrefutable. But there is also great dynamism when individuals of different experiences and skill sets come together to achieve common goals for the benefit of the industry as a whole: the power of many.
We are fortunate to have a number of these organizations in our industry, including EMA, Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the Los Angeles Entertainment Summit (LAES) Working Group, the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance, MovieLabs, and National Association of Video Distributors, and others. Each of these occupies a special niche and provides value to the industry as a whole. We are not competitors, but colleagues.
I am, of course, most familiar with the work of EMA and how it has positively impacted the industry since its founding in 1981. Beginning with preserving the right of retailers to rent videos, through a successful battle against censorship of violent videos and video games, to today’s initiatives to provide consistency and efficiency in the digital supply chain, our activities have promoted a healthy retail sector and supported consumer choice.
I’m also heavily invested with the LAES Working Group, which oversees our annual industry summit. It is a rewarding experience to see so many fierce competitors work together to make sure that the industry has an annual gathering the provides solid business opportunities, valuable networking, and a lot of fun – and has raised more than $1 million for charity in just its first two years.
And at the risk of sounding like I’m trying to flatter my host, I should also mention one other organization that provides a valuable service to the industry, but one that we often neglect to acknowledge: the magazine you are reading right now. Since its founding as Video Store Magazine 35 years ago, Home Media Magazine has been the go-to source for news and information about our industry. It’s been here documenting all the ups and downs, major events, and leaders of home entertainment almost since the beginning. In the process, it too has harnessed the power of many for the benefit of our industry.