On December 5, the Atlanta Business Chronicle hosted their annual business of the entertainment industry event, which focused on the current state of the industry in Georgia and offered insights as to what the business and creative communities can expect in 2020 and beyond. The 2019 event was held at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta and featured panel discussions with local leaders, creators and visionaries from the film, television, music, gaming and digital content industries. Here are a few things that we learned:
- Music creators want to work in the state! Musician panelist John Driskell Hopkins (founding member of Zac Brown Band) discussed the overwhelming desire of homegrown and Georgia-based composers, producers, and artists to work in local studios as opposed to commuting, or worse, re-locating out-of-state to work on production projects. Currently, access to facilities, proximity to talent, and financial incentives offered outside of the state prove to be the primary barriers to more in-state production activity.
- The Georgia Music Investment Act, which creates tax incentives for certain sanctioned business activities in the state is in drastic need of modification to be more effective. Namely, legislators should increase the available credit and allocation caps, lower the spending thresholds, and allow for transferability among parties (changes that are aligned with the successful film credit) to enhance the attractiveness of the credit and thus encourage more local activity.
- Production stages are becoming smarter and more dynamic thanks to local innovators. According to panelist, Mikey Cosentino (CTO of Atlanta-based, RiTE Media), his company now employs cutting-edge technology used to alter the production set environment in real time, creating more possibilities for content creation while streamlining and lowering the cost of premium capture. Cosentino stated that “our visual engineering team loves to think of new ways to both create something and experience it simultaneously, and we believe this is how all entertainment will be captured in the future.”
- eSports is booming in large part because of Atlanta, the first city in the country to incorporate eSports into its sports commission economic development structure. Competitive video gaming is taking off across the globe and gaming tournaments, hosted by professional teams such as the Atlanta Reign, are attracting thousands of fans from around country (and world) to the events. In 2019, the Cobb Energy Center played host to an “Overwatch League” tournament that sold over 4,500 tickets per day to gaming fans over the course of the weekend event. Panelist Todd Harris (Chairman of the Atlanta Esports Alliance), informed the audience that in November 2019, the “Atlanta eSports Alliance” was created in partnership with the Atlanta Sports Council. Harris stated, “the same group that brought the Super Bowl and Final Four to Atlanta is now working closely with Georgia’s endemic gaming companies to bring the world’s biggest eSports events to our region.” As such, Atlanta is recognized among gaming industry participants as a hub city for eSports.
- eSports offer advertisers a unique and under-utilized platform to reach consumers. The eSports audience is over 300 million people, young, digital native, and generally affluent. According to Todd Harris (CEO of Skillshot Media), “as the cover of Ad Week proclaimed a year ago, any brand not marketing in the eSports world is already behind the curve, [and] if you are looking to reach a millennial or Gen Z audience you need to be where they are engaged and that is gaming and eSports.”
- The global gaming industry now generates more revenue than the film industry and music industry combined (upwards of $140B annually)! These astronomical revenue figures are allowing companies such as Alpharetta-based videogame developer, Hi-Rez Studios, to expand and prosper. Atlanta is currently recognized as one of the friendliest and most dynamic markets in the country for the gaming industry and, as such, offers countless opportunities for business and creative innovators.