Digital media jobs in the Los Angeles basin currently total more than 206,000 with $27 billion in annual payroll, according to a report issued Friday by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.
The report, titled Entertainment and the Rise of Digital Media in the Los Angeles Basin, found that the local entertainment industry is facing its most dramatic transformation since the 1950s when television replaced radio as the primary way to deliver content to consumers.
From 2006 to 2016, total payroll employment across these larger digital media industries increased 11.6%, adding over 30,300 jobs, while employment in the overall regional economy (across all industries in the Los Angeles Basin) grew by 4%.
“Simply put, the digitization of content is completely changing how media and entertainment companies create, produce, market, distribute and monetize content,” the report said. “In response, the L.A. Basin is seeing the emergence and rapid scaling of an entirely new industry here in the L.A. Basin: digital media.”
The report noted that homegrown digital content firms are ascending as dominant players in digital media, such as Snap Inc., Fullscreen (which was acquired by AT&T and the Chernin Group), Makers Studios (which was acquired by the Walt Disney Company), and AwesomenessTV (which was bought by Dreamworks).
“Digital content firms are expanding into more traditional forms of entertainment, such as film and television,” the report noted. “Prominent Silicon Valley, Seattle and New York firms such as YouTube, Vice and Buzzfeed are enlarging their footprint in the region as they shift from being content distributors to content creators. Not only are these new firms competing with traditional content creators, but, in some instances, they are supplanting them in market share and cultural prominence.”
The report asserted that digital media industry’s long-term sustainability in L.A. isn’t guaranteed.
“For unlike its motion picture and sound recording predecessors, this is a highly mobile industry, with few physical or geographical anchors requiring it to be in any one location over another (for example, acres of backlots are not required),” it noted. “This requires us – as policymakers, educators, government and economic developers – to do whatever it takes to create an [industry-friendly] environment that is conducive to this digital media industry’s further growth and success in the L.A. Basin.”
The report is intended to persuade community college partners towards the entertainment and digital media industry occupations that will need more middle skilled workers over the next five years through the LAEDC’s Center for a Competitive Workforce. It noted that since Hollywood has been beset by criticism for lack of diversity, it can draw more directly and easily from a local community college talent pipeline that promotes more gender and ethnic diversity in the “rank and file” middle-skill jobs.
“Connecting underrepresented communities should be a large part of our overall talent development goals here in the L.A. Basin,” the report said.
The Center for a Competitive Workforce is a partnership between LAEDC, the 19 community colleges in LA County, and LA Area Chamber of Commerce.