DJ Jesse Neo is a singer-songwriter, music producer and technology expert with a PhD in Computer Science. In 2020 during the midst of the pandemic, he launched Gemtracks, a music-industry marketplace that quickly turned into a must-go for artists and producers to collaborate.
CelebMix spoke with Jesse to find out more about Gemtracks, and how his background in music lead to a tech startup.
How did you come up with Gemtracks?
It’s a bit of a funny story how Gemtracks came to be. The website was already existing way back in 2016 as an online store to sell my own beats and instrumentals that I composed but didn’t use. Then in 2019 while in Los Angeles recording some new tracks, I bumped into a few musicians that were interested in how Gemtracks worked and encouraged me to turn it into a marketplace so they too could sell their work.
I took their advice – and suddenly the pandemic hit. Producers worldwide were looking for ways to make money online, and Gemtracks was somehow, someway there at the perfect time, at the perfect moment. Within a span of a month, Gemtracks grew from barely a few hundred visitors to over 10,000.
What should people know about Gemtracks?
Gemtracks is a music-industry marketplace for people thinking or already in the music industry. Our customers are artists wishing to produce and market their songs, where they can connect with freelancers and music businesses (like studios) to collaborate with.
What makes Gemtracks stand out is that everything commissioned on the platform comes with full copyright and ownership. This means if you purchase a beat to use in your song, you won’t have to pay royalties or credit the original producer.
What was the biggest challenge of launching a startup?
Building trust was definitely the biggest challenge. The website was new in town, and there were already many competitors doing what I was doing. What I learnt was to hold onto every customer and provide the best service, because each one of them would potentially tell their friends, which like a chain-reaction, can easily contribute to building the trust and authority of the Gemtracks brand.
What are some risks you faced?
Like all startups, the biggest risk is usually always the financial side. I remember spending over $100,000 in advertising and marketing material. I also spent thousands of dollars on the web server and hosting because I wanted to make sure the website ran smoothly and securely. I was unsure if I would ever recoup the cost, but I continued to persevere. It took 2 years to break even.
You started out as a musician. Do you still do music?
Yes, I still do music. Actually, I am now collaborating with freelancers that have joined Gemtracks to help produce my music, especially producers from foreign countries in Africa and South America that have yet to make a name for themselves but are very talented.
How do you define success?
Success if visualizing something you want to achieve, being determined in achieving that goal, and finally achieving it.
How do you see the music industry in the future?
I imagine the industry to continue embracing new technology. More independent artists like myself will contribute a larger slice to the industry, and distribution companies will only get more important. 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 look forward to in the next six months on Gemtracks?
I am currently trying to change Gemtracks to more of a community website instead of just a marketplace. I want a place where artists can discuss their projects, get feedback and then eventually have their fans be part of their decision makers as well.