Actor and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt, known for his roles in “Inception” and “10 Things I hate About You,” founded HitRecord 10 years ago. Now the platform, where artists can collaborate on different projects, from music to videos to books, has grown to 600,000 users and has worked with a multitude of brands.
What was once a production company and hobby for Gordon-Levitt has turned into a profitable company (in January, the platform raised a $6.4 million series A round) and works with the likes of LG, Samsung, Sony, Levi’s and nonprofits like the National Parks Foundation to generate revenue and turn out works of art. It’s latest partnership is with Zappos, where HitRecord artists will collaborate on an assignment featuring stories about holiday traditions around the world. At Advertising Week, Joseph Gordon-Levitt joined Zappos' Shelby Stilson on stage to discuss the new partnership, and Ad Age spoke with Stilson about the details.
Despite the platform’s growth and collaborative nature, Gordon-Levitt wouldn’t lump HitRecord in with other social media platforms. Speaking with Ad Age during Advertising Week, he says artists using HitRecord don’t have to “bring out their claws” and compete for followers to get monetized. It all comes down to the quality of work.
“I think there’s fundamentally something different with how people treat each other. Most of the online platforms are not really about collaboration, they’re more competitive, they’re like a popularity contest,” he says. “Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, etc. get their users to compete with each other for attention, because attention is what ultimately makes money. That’s not how we make money.”
Since monetizing users for good work is a goal of the platform, how the platform handles users’ intellectual property is important.
“We don’t demand exclusive rights to people’s content at the point of contribution. That’s weird. People aren’t used to giving exclusive rights to something they’re putting on the internet, and I don’t think artists would really like that,” he says. “When you upload something to HitRecord, you’re giving a non-exclusive license for HitRecord to take the fruits of the collaborative process and if there’s monetization, people get paid.”