Musician and actor Jared Leto stopped by BoxWorks today and talked digital transformation in the entertainment industry, and in the ultimate act of sharing, he passed around his Oscar so people could take pictures with it.
Leto has been in the music and movie industry for a long time and as he pointed out, back in the day, he couldn’t communicate directly with his audience. There was no Twitter. He needed to get a record company to pay attention to him, to sign him, record him and distribute the product.
Today, he pointed out he doesn’t really sell music directly. People generally just take it and he encourages that. He joked he says at concerts, “I don’t mind if you steal my music but go to a store and do it. Be brave.”
He said he makes his money through relentless touring and his band, 30 Seconds to Mars has been on the road for so long, it actually earned The Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuously touring band in a single album cycle. He says you can sit and cry about the changing world, but you have to recognize it and take advantage of it, and he and his band have found a way to do that.
His point though wasn’t that people were stealing per se, but they were interacting with his music and that’s all any artist can ask. As he said, the internet opens up a conversation with the audience and it gives artists the opportunity to find an audience. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s an opportunity that just didn’t exist before the internet and social media.
“Technology is the great equalizer,” he said. “It’s shifted balance of power from gatekeepers, not just to artists, but to audiences too,” Leto explained.
And Leto isn’t just a musician, he has several digital businesses he’s launched as separate projects. He joked his first business was selling pot as a kid, but his businesses today take advantage of the internet (and they’re legal). One is called Adventures in Wonderland, which hosts VIP packages and offers another way for artists and fans to interact. Artists can do meet and greets after the show and fans can get good seats or can stand by the side of the stage and watch the band.
He said what was the core value of a musician has changed. It used to be the album or CD, but as it moves to touring, having that relationship with fans becomes ever more crucial.