Jared Gutstadt is a jingle punk.
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He is also a musician -- and a former TV editor.
“When I was working on [Dave] Chappelle’s Show, Neil Brennan who is the creator of the series, used to accuse me of trying to push my music into the series and used to always nag and make fun of me saying, ‘Hey Jared, you're a Jingle Punk,’” said Gudstadt, the founder of the aptly named music licensing startup Jingle Punks.
Gutstadt, a 35-year-old originally from Canada, has made a business out of giving other musicians the opportunity to get their content into television shows.
The concept is pretty straightforward. Anytime video editors need to find music, they can browse the patented “Jingle Player,” a database that has more than 100,000 tracks and is easy to use. You can type in a mood or a specific movie or band, and a list of similar results pop up
“In order to get on a major label these days you need to prove yourself as a viable commodity before they even jump into work. They want to see a million records sold. They want to see you have your own touring strategy,” he said. “And we look at Jingle Punks as a kind of incubation for artists who maybe graduate from our world into a bigger ecosystem.”
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Gutstadt said Jingle Punk not only gives television shows a cost-effective, innovative way to find cooler tunes – but it also serves the artist well through potential exposure and royalties, which can range from a few hundred dollars to standout artists making several thousand dollars.
“There is a sliding spectrum of royalty rates, so for every dollar that we make off a piece of music, our artists make a dollar as well," he said. “So when your [music] is on an NBC series, the royalties are really high; on a cooking channel series it’s non-existent; and somewhere in the middle are the Bravos and the USA’s and the History channels.”
“I think that in a weird way, Jingle Punks has carved out this new middle class of musicians"
Jingle Punks, which has 60 employees and offices in New York, LA and London, currently supplies about 80 TV series with music -- and has had some incredible success with some of its own jingles, including the theme song Gutstadt wrote for the History Channel’s Pawn Stars, which is played in more than 150 countries and generates almost $300,000 for the startup every year.Then there is the Jingle Punks Hipster Orchestra, an in-house orchestra used for getting the word out about the music company.
“I think that in a weird way, Jingle Punks has carved out this new middle class of musicians where five to 10 years ago it wasn’t really possible for artists to make a living unless they were on a major label or a really, really busy touring band,” said Gutstadt.
As for artsy musicians who are reluctant to have their songs included in television -- including reality television -- Gutstadt said nobody is forced to include their music in their "jingle player" but attitudes are changing.
“I think licensing, which used to be a big taboo, having artists putting their music in content isn’t as a big of a deal as it used to be,” he said.“You’ve seen Jack White do it, you see Bob Dylan do it, and I think it's reflective of the times and the way we have been able to build this business up.”
Q&A with Jared Gutstadt
What is your favorite quote and why?
Nassim Taleb said “chance favors the prepared.”
I believe all the opportunities in my life came from lucky interactions. But these turned into business because prior to getting lucky I got good at what I do. I’m a great salesman and a great musician. I had to get good before I got lucky.
I am sure this is hard but what is your favorite song and why?
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’s the song that started it all for me and for music symbolizes that moment when it went from black and white to Technicolor (like when Dorothy touched down in Oz).
How do you balance a creative music venture with a startup that needs to make money?
Since day one, Jingle Punks has always been a profitable creative venture. The big difference between our company and other music companies is that we're actually run by creatives. When I first started, I was involved in making every piece of music. As we grew, I've managed to scale a very creative process and at the same time, my business partner Dan handled the apps and technology. I just happen to be a shameless capitalist masked in an artist's body.
How does the company make money -- and are you profitable?
We make money by licensing our music by working on music solutions for the film, ad, and TV space. That can mean anything from packaging a celebrity to sing a theme song that we wrote all the way down to utilizing our technology and metrics to scale to create enterprise-level solutions for some of the biggest brands on the planet. We are profitable and we run on very, very exciting margins.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I have a few. When it comes to music, obviously Paul McCartney, and when it comes to business, that is absolutely 100% without a doubt Steve Jobs. Both of them created unbelievable brands that were actually both somehow related to apples. Steve's uncanny ability to know what consumers wanted before they even knew what they wanted was a special gift. He had a fearless ability to pivot a business that was doing one thing specifically well and expanding into markets that to an outsider might not look like they plug into the core of the business. Steve is also somebody who has innovated not only in the world of computing, but in music and film and in so many other ways. He's been what I believe is the ultimate creative entrepreneur. Even in a company as big as his, he never lost touch with the core of his brand. I believe that Paul McCartney, just being the creative genius that he is, really was the first person to communicate on a massive level via music, and I think that that makes him one of the most interesting people to have ever lived.
What is your advice to people thinking about starting a business?
To quote one of my favorite lines from rap music: I started from the bottom, now I'm here. - Drake