14 June 2007

The Met: the Wal-Mart of opera

On Huffingtonpost.com, some relevant commentary:

(I)t is clear that the agreements (with the unions regarding the Met's control over the creation and distribution of electronic content) are the lynchpin of The Met's venture into the Digital Age... or as the less-charitable among us would say, they are the lynchpin of The Met's transformation from opera house to electronic content provider.

It is utterly unclear what the goal of The Met's foray into electronic production really is. It is unlikely to be the oft-repeated goal of building an opera audience in general and a Met audience in particular, the ultimate aim of which is to increase ticket sales. It is more likely to be the creation of The Met as the Wal-Mart of Opera in the DVD era and beyond, in which The Met will cater to the customer's every operatic need, from CDs to videos to satellite radio to podcasts to theater simulcasts and, for all I know, video games ...

Continued union cooperation is by no means a safe bet. The safe bet, rather, is to assume that a union, when viewing a pot of money, is going to look for a substantial -- and ever increasing -- piece of it. It is unlikely to take long for the "new revenue- sharing model" to be subverted by greed, which is pretty much the way things have always operated in a market economy.