BBack in September, at Berlin Music Week 2014, we had a chance to talk to Wyatt Jenkins – the VP of Product at Shutterstock, powering one of the world’s largest marketplaces of creative content used by businesses, media, and agencies.
In this role, Wyatt leads 15 cross functional product, UX design, and research teams, yet prior to joining he spent 6 years at Beatport.com and DJed professionally around the world for 8 years.
In this SAtN interview, Wyatt Jenkins talks about the latest developments at Shutterstock and its Music department, including Sequence giving content creators the tools they need, and the importance of sync licensing for indie artists, among other topics.
00:00:21 – Wyatt Jenkins introduction.
00:01:35 – Would you like to get involved in the electronic music world again?
00:02:00 – Shutterstock Music and how it got started.
00:02:39 – Working with Rumblefish.
00:03:06 – Latest tech trends.
00:04:21 – Some of the stats behind Shutterstock.
00:05:21 – What’s in licensing for indie artists today?
00:06:12 – Wyatt’s thoughts on the “YouTube vs. indies” debate.
00:06:49 – Starting with Shutterstock Music.
My name is Wyatt Jenkins. I’m the head of product development at Shutterstock and yeah I like to build things. I was a DJ for a long time, 15 years or so. Most of my traveling DJ years were in the 90s and early 2000s. So I learned a lot about how to please audiences in different parts of the world and how to start a record label and all that kind of stuff. And then in 2003, I helped my friends launch Beatport.com and was an early member there. So I saw Beatport through the launch all the way to 2009. So 6 years of incredible growth and a lot of fun, opening an office in Berlin, I learned a lot growing that business. And then in 2009, I left Beatport to join Shutterstock. Insight Venture Capital was an investor in both Beatport and Shutterstock. So when I left Beatport, Insight was like ‘hey you should change on this other market place, Shutterstock’. John Oringer is the founder, you should meet him. I met John, I loved the business, and in 2009 I joined Shutterstock. Now it’s been 5 years at Shutterstock.
Would you like to get involved in the electronic music world again?
I feel like I’ve done what I needed to do in electronic music. Between the DJing career and launching Beatport and growing a business, I feel very good about what I’d done professionally in electronic music. I still listen to electronic music everyday and love it. But I’d rather stay on the sidelines and other people who are newer to it can grow it from here.
How did Shutterstock music get started?
So one of Shutterstock’s fastest growing areas is video, and new content types in general. We also added Skill Feed, which is educational learning and now we’ve added music. So new content types in general are exploding. But I mean look at your Facebook feed. It’s video. There’s so much video being used in the world and all that video, not all of it, but a large percentage of it needs music. So for us it was a very natural thing to add music as a content type to the Shutterstock library. We had customers begging for it. So we were just really excited to do that and that was the impetus for the new music site.
Why did you choose to work with Rumblefish as a partner?
Shutterstock started with John Oringer going out and taking 30, 000 of his own photographs and putting them on a website. We started the music site very similarly. So we went out and got a partner that had 60, 000 tracks that we could begin a collection with. And now we plan to organically grow that collection and adding more partners and adding more organic submissions directly from artists over the next many years that we launch this business.
Are there any tech trends that excite you right now?
One of the biggest trends that I noticed in the world is the ability for people to manipulate digital files continues to get easier and easier and easier and easier. So what it took to write music in the 90s, when I was writing music, was really hard. Now you can write music with simple software. Doing photography was really hard. Now your Iphone has a pretty darn good camera on it. And the same goes for e-learning and a lot of other forms of digital shareable content. It’s gonna get a lot easier. So I get most excited about tools that democratize content creation. We have a tool like that. We actually have this cool new prototype called Streamline. And this prototype, it’s actually not marketed yet so you’re getting a bit of a preview. But if you got to Shutterstock.com/labs/streamline, you can see this prototype. What it allows you to do is combine our music and combine our video assets into one experience so that you can try things out before you even buy the assets. And basically what we’re doing is helping people democratize the way people create content, the way they match up imagery and video and music. And these types of tools get me really excited.
What are some of the current stats behind Shutterstock?
We just surpassed 2 million videos. That’s one of my favorite stats. Videos are big files. We’ve got 4k video in there now. It’s really really impressive. A total over 40 million in assets in our library, which is incredible. We plan to grow our music collection quite a bit over the next year as well. So we’re also doing 4 downloads a second at this point. So the sheer amount of activity that is happening in this library is incredible. The numbers are really interesting. One thing that’s cool to know is the more download activity we get, the better our search algorithms get. So currently our search and discovery algorithms are very impressive. You’re gonna see music or images or video that are highly related to the inquiries of lots of people around the world. It’s exciting.
What’s in licensing for indie artists today?
So if I were a musician today, I think sync licensing is one of the most exciting spaces. But we have to think broadly about sync licensing. We have to think about how anyone who has a video could combine music with it. Currently the licensing from a customer perspective is still pretty complicated. There’s a lot of people that are trying to get a piece of that. And the more that we, and when I say we I mean people who make music which is no longer me, the more musicians understand that making it easy for customers to license their music is good for the business in general the better. So for example, with our music collection we wanted to have a simple license for digital. So if you have a digital project, something on Youtube, we have a wonderful license that’s very simple for customers. It’s just 49 bucks for the basic license. That’s the introductory price. We’re gonna raise it. But the more we can make music accessible in this way, the fatter the market’s gonna grow. And that’s good for everybody. At the end of the day, we’re trying to make a new revenue stream for musicians and that’s why we launched this music site.
Do you have any comment on the “indies vs. Youtube” debate?
I don’t have an opinion on Youtube and its growth per se because it’s not our business. What I do recognize about Youtube is that it’s not being monetized as well as it could be. And that’s another reason why we think our music collection is really interesting because there are a lot of video on there that needs music and that music that needs a license to it more so than it’s getting license today. So what that means to me is there’s money out there to be made for musicians. If we just take advantage of it and we keep a good eye on what videos are there and what music’s getting synced to it. And that’s the license we offer.
How can an artist start with Shutterstock Music?
Today, if a musician wanted to add their collection to Shutterstock, they would need to go to Rumblefish. In the near future, we’re developing ways for musicians to add their music directly to Shutterstock. So that’s coming soon. But I think it’s important for musicians to come and do a search, find something interesting and try to license it. Because if they understand the perspective of customers, they could make better music that’s more customer friendly.