Jared Leto's first transformation was standard fare--from starlet-dating actor to starlet-dating prog-rock-band frontman. But his second shift was more noteworthy: As he found new ways to expand his band's reach, he spun off new businesses to help other bands capitalize on their hard-core fans. "The future of music is really exciting," he says, "especially if you're interested in a proactive, innovative experience." Leto has created three startups (so far). The "aha" moments and the companies they inspired:
His band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, once invited fans to submit photos of themselves, for a chance to be on the band's next album cover; it yielded 2,000 different fan covers. He realized, "I'd prefer 1,000 followers, friends, and fans that actually meant something, rather than 10 million that weren't engaged."
So, he launched: The Hive, which runs social-media management and digital marketing for his band and others such as Jessie J and Semi Precious Weapons.
Leto thought that VIP experiences sounded lame but tried offering one because it was a space ripe for disruption. So, he launched: The One and Only Golden Tickets, arranging fan VIP experiences such as backstage or recording-studio access to the likes of Rob Zombie and Demi Lovato.
"Everyone who knows streaming said to keep the price low, to go for numbers," he says. "But they're wrong. If someone is willing to log on and use their credit card, that's a committed individual."
So, he launched: Vyrt, which sells digital tickets to live-stream concerts for up to $14.99 (though it's aired only Leto's shows so far).
Photo by Benjamin Lowy