“Everyone wants to be an artist,” says Avi Muchnick, sitting amid the clutter of his startup’s new Manhattan headquarters. Muchnick’s company, Aviary, makes free Web-based software for creating and editing images and sounds. Users can do everything from tweaking photographs to composing complex multitrack musical arrangements.
Aviary’s tools aren’t as powerful as commercial applications like Adobe Photoshop, an expensive photo editing program that professionals use. But because all user data is stored on a cloud-computing platform, users can easily share not just finished works but all the individual elements that went into a work; if someone creates a graphic of a teacup for a poster about a public reading of Alice in Wonderland, someone else can extract that graphic and use it in a logo for a café. Aviary tracks how and where elements are used, making sure that licenses and credits are preserved. Ultimately, the company hopes to create a marketplace where creators can charge royalties for their work, with Aviary taking a cut. Since the company was founded in 2007, Muchnick has raised $11 million in venture capital and angel funding from investors such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. –Stephen Cass
Mix and match: Aviary’s cloud-based Web applications allow users to mix and match elements from their creations, creating derivative works that can be shared in turn. Credit: Courtesy of Aviary