Stephen Kasriel the CEO of Upwork just wrote an article in Fast Company called "Why the Future of Work will Look a lot like Hollywood." I agree wholeheartedly and in fact wrote a similar piece years ago on the movie model. I pointed out that It is no surprise, that in the business analog, the first players to become independent were the stars, just like in the movie model. Back in 1988 ( before the internet...ouch!) it took me no time to build up a strong network of consultants numbering in the 1000s. Independent expertise of the most credentialed sort has been around for decades, well before the advent of what people typically think of as the gig economy, i.e. the uber drivers or free-lance workers on the Upwork platform. It's the stars, the highly accomplished independent consultants and interim managers, who wanted to to take control of their careers and make choices about how they would use their talents.
But there are two salient but potentially related differences between the movie world and the high end of the gig economy. The first is that no one seems to take issue with the movie model. The fact that talents of all sorts, from cinematographers to actors to musicians, come together for a one year gig to make a movie and then disband is not derided as a dangerous model. This gig economy is accepted for what it is - the best way to complete a large scale cinematic project. However the other key difference is the fact that Hollywood is a land of unions. The writers, composers, actors and directors are all in a union or guild. Additionally, the agents who represent them are also union members. Is it this labor affiliation that spares the movie model from criticism?
Just today, the AFL CIO declared that gig workers should be employees. They implied but did not suggest outright that therefore they should be union employees.
I can't speak to the low level roles in the gig economy, but I can speak to those who represent the most skilled, the consultants who have gone independent by choice. One once told me she never wanted to be an employee ever again. I will extrapolate that she wouldn't want a union card either...