ROCKING STAGES AND BOARDROOMS
Jared Gutstadt’s official title is Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Jingle Punks, a multiple award-winning audio creative agency, but most people know him as Jingle Jared. As a businessman, he works with the largest brands, networks, and studios in entertainment. As a musician, he creates with, and for, the world’s best artists. One of my favourites being his collaboration with Nas. His Jingle Punks Hipster Orchestra created orchestral arrangements of Nas’ hits, then performing them with him in Africa.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard a Jingle Punks song while watching a movie, trailer, TV show, commercial or sporting event. Jared and his team have been focused on growing their business over the past decade. As a result, they’ve grown from a self-financed startup of two friends to over 100 employees, composers, and contributors. Turning Jingle Punks into a multi-million dollar company.
Being a successful executive by no means makes Jared a “suit”. Quite the contrary. The Toronto native can often be found sporting a jean jacket and a stylish Panama hat. I’ve always been fascinated by Jared’s ability to seamlessly blend the executive and the artist. He is as comfortable in the boardroom as he is in a music studio. A while back, I spoke with him to better understand his journey and his insights about the music industry. Even though Jingle Punks continues to be successful, this isn’t what Jared thought he’d be doing when he first started in the music industry.
Jared: In my 20s, when I was part of indie bands in New York, my goal was to get signed to a major label. Music gigs weren’t exactly paying the bills. The only reason I could afford to live in New York City was a job I picked up as a TV Editor. It was there that I started secretly adding my music to TV shows. I quickly realized that content editors had a lot of control over music decisions. Once I started getting traction with that I stopped pursuing the indie band to major label direction. Even though I’d been doing it for over a decade, just playing music wasn’t actually the thing for me. My thing was putting the right music into content.
Mike: So you combined your love of creating music with your understanding of how compelling content is made and went all in.
Jared: Yeah, I inadvertently became an entrepreneur. We’re seeing in today’s world that a lot of musicians make great entrepreneurs. We’ve seen the rise of Dr. Dre, Jimmy Ive, T Bone Burnett, Jack White and all these people who started with a creative skillset but are also phenomenal marketers. I realize the time I spent honing my ability to tell stories for 30-mins every night, on stage in New York’s Lower East Side, turned into me being able to communicate compelling narratives in the boardroom.
Mike: Then you’re still a performer. You just rock out on music stages and in office boardrooms around the world.
Jared: I guess so. After Jingle Punks was acquired by Ole, I decided to recommit myself to the creative music side of the business. As a result, I’ve worked, produced, and written with Lil’ Wayne, Steven Tyler, Poo Bear, Ty Dolla $ign, and the list goes on and on.
Mike: Over the past few years we’ve seen new models of success, social media spawning entire careers, increased consumer adoption of streaming, and more. In your opinion, what’s the current state of the music industry?
Jared: It’s a good time to be an artist if you’re serious about it. You no longer need to be the coolest band in town and wait to be discovered. When my friend Poo Bear broke the record for #1 singles, I think he broke the Beatles record, he said half-seriously “Look, the Beatles didn’t have the internet.”
Mike: The internet in a lot of ways has democratized access to and for creatives. Artists now have access to millions of people through SoundCloud, Spotify, and other platforms. Does that mean that big labels aren’t as relevant anymore?
Jared: In a way, they are still relevant. The label’s relationship with artists has just changed. Currently, the labels (for better or worse) still have the best grasp on how to create international networks. An artist may not sign to a major label, but they still need to have someone in coordination with iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and physical retailers. Think of someone like Chance the Rapper, he has done it his way and won Grammys without signing to a major label. However, he still needs the support of label services.
Mike: What’s a mistake or common trap that artists tend to fall into?
Jared: Most new artists spend too much time trying to make their music perfect rather than just putting stuff out. I subscribe to the Pixar model of 'show early and show often'. If you just sit in the basement spending all your time trying to craft a masterpiece (afraid to show it to people until it’s perfect) you’ll never get discovered. I’m not saying to share crap with people and put out too much music, but if you’re an artist, hiding your work until it’s “perfect” won’t help grow, learn and find your audience.
Mike: What would you say to people looking to start a career as a musician and/or entrepreneur today?
Jared: I would say it’s really simple. It’s never a good time to start a business or a band, and it’s always a good time to start a business or a band.
Some of the best acts of all-time started in the worst economic climates, and some of the most promising bands have come out of the most vibrant times and failed. The Strokes came up at a time when the economy was on the rise in the early 2000s, they were supposed to be the answer to the music industry. But they never really sold records, even though their music was f*cking cool and amazing. Then a band like The Clash, that started during a stagnant economic era in the United Kingdom, became one of the largest commercial bands of all-time. Moral of the story? Just go for it. Don’t use anything as an excuse as you work towards success.
Mike: With all the changes in the music industry. What do you see as the next innovation in music?
Jared: I think A.I. is going to play a huge role in the industry. I want to make sure that we have a seat at the table, so if music is being created algorithmically it’s being done properly. There’s plenty that Jingle Punks is working on behind the scenes including patents and proprietary workflow that we’ve invented.
Jared: At Jingle Punks, our composers craft music from a place of pure passion and creativity, but there will be a time when computers create good music, much like in the world of chess when a computer beat a chess master. I’m not saying a robot will emerge and make better music than the Beatles, but I wouldn’t take my eye off the ball. It sounds like science fiction, but it’ll be science fact sooner than you think. The unknown variable is human creativity.
Since our interview, Jingle Punks has continued to partner with giants like ABC, Universal Pictures, ESPN, Warner Brothers Films, UFC, and countless other media outlets. In conjunction, Jared has stayed connected to the craft of making music, working with Poo Bear on YouTube Original’s show Step Up, writing on Brad Paisley’s album, producing for DJ Khaled and the Florida Marlins, among others.
Most recently, Jared has partnered up with Poo Bear and Dennis Quaid at iHeartRadio to introduce a genre-bending podcast musical. The eight-part story will be the introduction to The Bear and A Banjo album, written and performed by Jingle Jared and Poo Bear.
Jared’s path to being a successful executive took him back to his Indie roots. It’s always a good time to start a business or a band.
If you want to check out what Jared is creating from day-to-day, his entrepreneurial travels, or his adventures with his kids, you can check him out on Instagram at @jinglejared.