Jared Leto on Turning Innovation into Business and Making Music in the Arctic

Jared Leto on Turning Innovation into Business and Making Music in the Arctic
By Damon Berger
  • Successful actor, acclaimed artist and thriving entrepreneur. Whatever you call him, Jared Leto is a creative juggernaut, and he stopped by What’s Trending on Wednesday to talk about his band’s website, the HIVE, the music industry at large and shooting a video in the Arctic.

    Recently featured on Fast Company’s “Most Creative People of 2012,” the honor was one Leto accepted with humility. “It’s great to be included with a lot of other creative people like that because you get the chance to meet them and to learn about other people and other things happening,” he told Shira Lazar.

    He drew from his musical and film career to push his own entrepreneurial pursuits forward, and said that he’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit and as he wanted to have a company he used a free pay stub generator to manage their payrolls.

    “It’s kind of a sink or swim thing these days,” he said about musicians being entrepreneurial. “You have a collapsing industry…and if you care about having some responsibility and control, and some input, then it’s probably a smart thing to do.”

    Leto talked about the Hive, his band’s marketing organizatoin, which he calls a “co-op; it’s a collective of creative people who get together and think about innovative, interesting, exciting ideas and ways to foster community.”

    He said that the website started organically, created to service his band, 30 Seconds to Mars. He likes being a small company, and his social media strategy for the Hive is “working their asses off.”

    “We keep our ear to the ground,” he said. “We learn a lot. We are innovative, and really creative. We believe in what we do. For us it’s about authenticity.”

    His advice to bands who want to build an engaged community is to create. “Do what you’re best at,” Leto told Shira. “Songs, videos, things that engage an audience. Share your work with people in a really transparent and authentic place, and the rest will fall into place.” He also said that there’s basic social media management and digital marketing, and that they’re distinct and different things to him.

    His opinions on streaming services like Spotify are that they don’t necessarily equal revenue for artist, which is okay.

    “I’ve never seen a check for any streaming service and I doubt I ever will,” he said. “That’s okay, I don’t think everything has to be monetized, especially with music. I think there’s a great deal of it that can be shared. I think people are willing to pay for things that they consider valuable.”

    For Leto, investing in startups is about people, which is why he recently invested in Surf Air, which will simplify and enhance the flying experience through an exclusive all-you-can-fly membership. “I think that Surf Air is going to alleviate some of that tension and friction as far as air travel.”

    “I am not a big fan of investment, per se, it’s not my thing,” Leto said. “I am more of a creator; I like to get my hands dirty. I like to build things and then share them. But when I meet certain people, certain teams, and I really believe in them, it’s wonderful to be able to support and help in some way bring the idea, the concept, the product to another level if you can do that.”

    At 6:42 mark, Leto answers some fan questions sent via Twitter, including what his favorite app is and his work with VyRT.

    Fans of 30 Seconds to Mars might have to wait a bit for the band’s next album, after Leto said that they have a 2015 release date set. He also spoke about his music video for “Beautiful Lie 2.0.”

    “We just released a documentary of the making of that video, and it’s was a really special time because we went 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle,” he said. “We shot on icebergs and glaciers. The most beautiful landscape you could ever imagine. If you watch the documentary and see the video, it also celebrates the culture of the Inuit people, who are experiencing global warming firsthand.”

    Follow Leto on Twitter @JaredLeto, and follow 30 Seconds to Mars @30SECONDSTOMARS and The HIVE @thisisthehive.