Media Bakery

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There's a fairly simple idea behind Chad Newell's Media Bakery: build a website (Mediabakery.com) that offers just about the entire spectrum of royalty-free content, ranging from images and footage, to music and sound effects, and on to fonts, 3-D wireframes and skins, Flash animation, software and plug-ins. And whenever possible, give clients the opportunity to cherry-pick exactly what the project needs without buying an entire multi-CD collection. Oh, and try to match the customer service offered by the rights-protected operations.

"Up until now, one could find pieces of creative content through various sources across the globe, but nowhere could one find all the royalty-free media needed for a campaign and the tools to bring it together," says Newell. Media Bakery's website can search through 16 different image publishers, nine footage publishers, six audio publishers, two Flash foundries, three font foundries, a 3-D publisher and eight software publishers. Suppliers include Adobe, Artbeats Film Library, Bitstream, Brand X Pictures, Corbis, Dosch Design, ImageState, The Music Bakery, PhotoDisc, Royalty Free Music, Sound Ideas and Stockbyte.

Nearly all of the content can be purchased individually, or clients can purchase an entire CD collection. The media can be downloaded or shipped. Media Bakery also offers a prepaid subscription service that provides unrestricted access to downloadable materials. And if a client still can't find the right image, Media Bakery has a staff tabletop photographer who is building the firm's exclusive library of royalty-free images and who likely can execute the concept for a price not much more than what Newell charges for an off-the-peg image, if he can add it to his personal royalty-free stash. Newell himself is a cinematographer who's been shooting lifestyle assignment and stock footage for more than five years, and he offers a similar deal for custom-made film clips. And this web-based business can feed off the internet in more ways than one; for example, Flash designers are just starting to enter the royalty-free stock market. Media Bakery offers templates, elements, backgrounds, rollovers, customizable games and vector-based imagery from Eyelandstudio and Graphic Scene. "Like most multimedia content, Flash is another expression that is easily repurposed," says Newell. "We expect the demand for Flash will grow significantly in the coming months.

"The royalty-free industry has evolved into a sort of discount operation, but we're in the relationship business," he adds. "We're trying to offer more of the handholding services you find in the rights-protected services." Clients can search the collections on the website on their own if they prefer, but Newell and staff are happy to help them via phone or e-mail and put together a lightbox of likely solutions to their problems. He estimates that his staff pitches in on about a third of his clients' searches, and he recently expanded the customer service hours at the Bakery's headquarters in Carpinteria, Calif., to run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

To spark ideas for some of the more common searches, each month Newell selects a Baker's Dozen lightbox of 13 images, plus a few film and audio clips, all related to a seasonal theme such as Easter or Halloween. "Our researchers have all worn the shoes of our customers and they know what trends are popular," he says. Another nifty service feature is, in effect, a permanent lightbox that holds all of the materials clients have purchased since they opened their account. But even a baker can't live by bread alone; for some cake in his diet, Newell plans to begin offering rights-protected material within the next year or so while he expands the Bakery's proprietary collection of royalty-free photos, footage and music.

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