A start-up Tempe company is helping budding musicians and film producers advance in the entertainment industry. Unicorn Media, 24 W. Fifth St., launched a Web site this week that allows musicians and other artists to display their music videos and films in a high-definition format and to be paid for their work.
“We are democratizing entertainment,” said founder and CEO Bill Rinehart, adding that “it is aimed at the independent (artist or filmmaker). It helps them build an audience.”
Distribution options for artists have been limited unless the entertainer is a top star, he said. Independent producers had the option of Web sites like YouTube, which offers lower-quality pictures, or sites that assumed ownership rights to the video when they were uploaded.
Artists who display their work at no charge at Unicornmedia.com retain the ownership of their intellectual property so they can distribute it through other platforms as well, Rinehart said.
The Web site will be supported by advertising, and revenue will be split with the artists based on the popularity of their work, he said.
“A large number of views gets more,” Rinehart said. “It lets the public decide what content they want, and the artist will benefit without having to be discovered by a major music label.”
Not anything will be accepted, Rinehart said. It has to be higher quality than video produced with a cell phone camera, for example. The music will have to be produced in a recording studio, and the videos will have to be professionally produced, he said.
“We don’t make a judgment on whether it is good or bad, but we do make a judgment on the quality of the media. Was it recorded or produced professionally? . . . If you can get something recorded professionally, we will distribute it for you.”
The site does censor pornography and hate speech, he said.
Thousands of pieces of content are already available on the Web site as it opens for business, he said.
Computer users will be able to view the videos and listen to the music for free through their desktop and laptop computers and some mobile devices. The goal is to make the content viewable from any device, anywhere, anytime, he said.
Rinehart was a founder of Limelight Networks, an Internet content delivery company based in Tempe. He left in July 2007 and founded Unicorn last November after raising about $4.5 million from local investors. The new company has about 30 employees and expects to grow rapidly in Tempe as well as in locations around the world where it is rolling out service.
John Waldron, creative director of Brothers’ Ink Productions in Mesa, said he plans to use the site to distribute his company’s films. He sees the retention of ownership rights as the most important feature of Unicorn’s service.