Through a mutual contact, I got the chance to converse with one of the most recognized names in the music-licensing world—‘Jingle’ Jared Gutstadt, and together we discussed his most-surreal moment in South Africa, when he musically directed Nas' 20th Anniversary of Illmatic concert event. Also, in retrospect, ‘Jingle’ Jared gave great detail into how he and Dan Demole nurtured Jingle Punks—from a bootstrapped startup to a music-licensing powerhouse. Our interview jingled well and after the midway point, ‘Jingle’ Jared offered an inspirational and evergreen advice to aspiring composers. Read below and be inspired, one jingly word at a time.
ZT: Growing up, who were some of your musical influences?
JJG: I was influenced by all different genres of music growing up, but mostly identified with classic rockers like The Beatles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I've been lucky enough to work with some of my heroes throughout my life, which has been incredibly inspiring.
ZT: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? What was life like growing up in Ontario, Canada?
JJG: I was a typical Jewish kid growing up in the suburbs of Toronto. I was a huge music nerd, and was always interested in doing something that involved creativity. I loved playing sports and going to concerts.
ZT: When did you realize that you wanted to become a composer?
JJG: From the time I first picked up a guitar, I wanted to be a songwriter. I started picking up different instruments and became fascinated with learning to play a variety to enhance my composing abilities. I was an editor at MTV when I first tried to put my music in Chappelle's Show. After I finally was able to get some of my tracks placed, I took advantage of the situation as best as I could and started to focus more on composing and getting placements. From there, my passion for composing grew and grew as I started to get better and better at it.
The best advice I've ever gotten was to always say yes!” — ‘Jingle’ Jared
ZT: Jingle Punks started out in your apartment, on the Lower East Side in New York City. How did you and Dan Demole nurture it from a bootstrapped startup to a music-licensing powerhouse?
JJG: My partner Dan and I came up with the idea for the Jingle Player, which is our patented musical database and search engine. We tried to figure out the simplest and most desirable ways to organize a music library. With my background in editing and Dan's in coding, we were able to come up with a foolproof and easy method to search for music. We use metrics to enhance our player and refine it based on what people are searching for. Every day, we work on making the player sleeker and easier to navigate.
That mixed with our presence of being the coolest guys in the room helped us start our company from the ground up. Since then, we've been working more with brands and creating musical activations and furthering our success in that space. Our company grows more every day and is constantly expanding and reshaping based on our experiences.
ZT: What’s one of the greatest obstacles you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
JJG: My biggest obstacle has been pushing my way through barriers to get our company recognized and started. I've come up with a lot of weird, wild ideas throughout my life that I tried to bring to fruition, but meeting Dan out of chance and having our initial discussion about Jingle Punks and watching it grow into a multi-million dollar company has been an amazing challenge. If you believe in something enough and work your ass off to make it come true, it will pay off one day. It might take a lot of tries and a lot of fails before you get there, but if you are fueled by passion and a little bit of crazy, you will get there.
ZT: What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?
JJG: The best advice I've ever gotten was to always say yes. I have found myself in some absolutely insane situations, which have turned into absolutely amazing opportunities because I refuse to limit myself and say no to possibilities. I have traveled the world for my job and have worked with everyone from Dierks Bentley to Lynyrd Skynyrd to a bunch of cats for a Meow Mix video shoot. I have found myself partying with Nas and Wiz Khalifa in South Africa and have attended think tanks in Turkey.
ZT: On your road to success, what would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
JJG: Besides my four beautiful children, my greatest accomplishment has been watching our company grow from a tiny team in a tiny apartment in New York to over 60 employees in seven cities internationally. We literally started from the bottom and now we're here, to quote Drake.
If you believe in something enough and work your ass off to make it come true, it will pay off one day.” — ‘Jingle’ Jared
ZT: You have accomplished much, did you envision your success before it happened?
JJG: Absolutely. I always worked my hardest to get to where I am today. This did not happen overnight. I believed in my company and my success. Whenever I was shot down, I got back up because I believed that what I was doing was going to change the world. And slowly but surely, that dream is coming true.
ZT: What’s your most memorable creative moment?
JJG: I was the music director for Nas' 20th anniversary of Illmatic concert event in South Africa. Our Hipster Orchestra backed Nas throughout the whole concert. Being on stage with one of my musical heroes and seeing all of our hard work and practice playing out before my eyes was an incredibly surreal moment for me.
ZT: What is your favorite composition?
JJG: I have a very personal connection with the theme song that we recently did for World's Funniest Fails, a new show hosted by Terry Crews on Fox. The track was actually one I wrote for my old band Group Sounds with our head of business development, Jesse Korwin (who was also part of the band), and we reworked it to make it work for the theme. We also wrote and top lined a promo that Terry Crews sang for the show, which is hilarious. And the Pawn Stars theme with Lynyrd Skynyrd is another of my favorites, which is the gift that keeps on giving.
ZT: What advice would you give to an aspiring composer?
JJG: I always say that you should do everything in your power to refine your craft, improve, and jump at opportunities. If you're trying to be a composer, embrace every offer that comes your way and try to use those platforms to get to your end goal. For me, getting TV placements eventually blossomed into crazy opportunities to write with some of the best in the music world through hard work and flexibility.
Whenever I was shot down, I got back up because I believed that what I was doing was going to change the world.” — ‘Jingle’ Jared
ZT: Years from now, when people say ‘Jingle’ Jared Gutstadt—what will they say?
JJG: I hope to have created a new precedent in the music production industry. People will remember Jingle Punks for forging off the beaten path and creating easily accessible, easily cleared, and high quality music and music activations for brands and production companies around the world. Personally, I hope to be remembered as a rock and roll CEO who was never afraid to be true to my brand and myself.
ZT: Thanks for a great interview, and as an honored guest, is there anything else you would like to say?
JJG: Thank you and keep jingling!
ZT: Thank you very much ‘Jingle’ Jared, for an extremely great interview. I wish you and Dan much success with Jingle Punks, and on that positive note—I want to end this remarkable interview with John Muir’s famous quote, “The power of imagination makes us infinite!” Thanks again for being the change that you wish to see in the world, and always remember that (P) Positive, (E) Energy, (A) Always, (C) Creates, (E) Elevation (PEACE).