Interview: DJ Jesse Neo of Music-Industry Marketplace Gemtracks
DJ Jesse Neo is a singer-songwriter, music producer, and tech expert with a PhD in computer science. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, he launched Gemtracksa music industry market that has quickly turned into a must-have for collaboration between artists and producers.
CelebMix sat down with Jesse to learn more about Gemtracks and how his musical experience led to a tech startup.
How did you create Gemtracks?
It’s a bit of a fun story about how Gemtracks came to be. The website already existed in 2016 as an online store to sell my own beats and instrumentals that I composed but did not use. Then in 2019, while I was recording new material in Los Angeles, I came across a few musicians who were interested in the operation of Gemtracks and encouraged me to make a market out of it so that they too could sell their work.
I followed their advice – and suddenly the pandemic hit. Producers all over the world were looking for ways to make money online, and Gemtracks was kind of there at the perfect time, at the perfect time. Within a month, Gemtracks grew from just a few hundred visitors to over 10,000.
What should people know about Gemtracks?
Gemtracks is a music industry marketplace for people thinking about or already in the music industry. Our clients are artists wishing to produce and market their songs, where they can connect with independents and music businesses (like studios) to collaborate with.
What sets Gemtracks apart is that everything ordered on the platform comes with full copyright and ownership. This means that if you buy a beat to use in your song, you won’t have to pay royalties or credit the original producer.
What has been the biggest challenge in launching a startup?
Building trust was definitely the biggest challenge. The website was new in town and there were already plenty of competitors doing what I was doing. What I learned was to keep every customer and provide the best service because each of them would potentially tell their friends about it, which like a chain reaction can easily help build trust and Gemtracks brand authority.
What are the risks you face?
Like all startups, the biggest risk is usually always the financial side. I remember spending over $100,000 on advertising and marketing materials. I also spent thousands of dollars on the web server and hosting because I wanted to make sure the website was running smoothly and securely. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to recoup the cost, but I kept persevering. It took 2 years to break even.
You started out as a musician. Do you still make music?
Yes, I still make music. In fact, I now collaborate with freelancers who have joined Gemtracks to help me produce my music, especially producers from foreign countries in Africa and South America who haven’t made a name for themselves yet but are very talented.
how do you define success?
Success if you visualize something you want to achieve, are determined to achieve that goal, and eventually achieve it.
How do you see the music industry in the future?
I imagine the industry will continue to embrace new technologies. More independent artists like me will bring more of a share to the industry, and distribution companies will only grow in importance. Then there are the other related companies like mine that will help artists create and market their music, and also connect with their fans.
What can musicians expect in the next six months on Gemtracks?
I am currently trying to turn Gemtracks into a community website instead of just a marketplace. I want a place where artists can discuss their projects, get feedback, and possibly make their fans part of their decision makers as well.