Electric Yarn Believes The Future of Reading is Channel-Agnostic
Over the past decade, publishers have admirably pivoted toward digital content production, creating ebooks, apps, and even video to accompany their traditional print offerings. But by in large, publishers have not adopted an expansive media role -- book publishing is still the core business. Electric Yarn, a self-styled "next generation content studio," takes a different approach. The studio develops intellectual properties, largely aimed at a children's audience, and grows them into multimedia franchises through licensing partnerships. Electric Yarn believes its properties should seamlessly flow across platforms to complement its young audience, who is eager to engage on a variety of devices and with a wide range of media. Co-founder Elizabeth Chapin explains why this channel-agnostic approach will eventually define the future of reading.
What problem are you solving?
Rapidly converging markets and changing consumption habits have disrupted the media economy. There's been a shift to digital and multi-device usage by increasingly fragmented audiences. Content is more valuable than channel. There is a demand for content from traditional media companies, new digital distributors, and product and device manufacturers. Content creators are looking outside of traditional studios to develop their stories and reach audiences in compelling and competitive ways.
We provide creators a holistic way to build their brands and engage with audiences across platforms. We launch content into the market as digital products first as a low cost, low risk way to test market response and build audiences. We then license these properties to companies and other channel distributors looking for new content with proven marketability.
How did you come up with this idea?
Our studio model reflects a new way to think outside of vertical media channels to own and develop original intellectual properties nimbly across platforms. Electric Yarn is similar to a biotech firm in our ability to monetize cash flows from a range of properties. We fund a portfolio to take small-sized bets across multiple titles. We structure new types of content deals for the global rights of intellectual properties across media. Through our digital-first strategy we bring content to market quickly with low risk while controlling a key distribution channel. We leverage our rights and direct digital distribution to broker advantageous deals with franchise partners.
What are the most important trends in publishing?
Our initial portfolio is focused on children's content since it is kids and their parents that are really on the frontier of interactive media and the generation that will define new media usage in the future. It's kids that drive family consumption habits, which isn't new. What's new is that they are driving family media consumption across multiple devices and through new digital channels. That's where the opportunity for our core properties lie.
But beyond trends in the children's market, Electric Yarn is looking to the emerging, but still nebulous, space of digital storytelling in the adult category. There's a race by a bunch of new platforms and communities to offer this fragmented audience an experience with digital, long-form stories. But the space still lacks a recognizable form. We think it's not about reinventing traditional media or building a siloed technology but by creating something new that will become a standard for creators and audiences.
Who is your competition?
Electric Yarn competes with digital publishing firms and media companies producing digital children's stories. Because we own and develop original content for cross-platform franchises, these competitors can become our distribution and licensing partners. We can also partner with other media studios to develop back catalogs of traditional media content into digital products.
Plans to expand our core content business include building a proprietary mobile storytelling platform. The platform opportunity is a natural extension of our intellectual property partnerships and development model. We are working with the award-winning interactive directors, The Goggles. The platform is inspired by their critically acclaimed documentary, Welcome To Pine Point. Our goal is to establish a form for digital storytelling -- a new convention for creation and consumption to give creators the tools to tell stories in unique ways and to engage and monetize audiences.