#WFH Diaries: Jared Gutstadt, Founder of Audio Up

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're coping. Here's an update from Jared Gutstadt, founder of music house Jingle Punks and the new podcasting company Audio Up, whose projects have included the celebrated Bear and a Banjo.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

My name is Jared Gutstadt, and I am a podcast disruptor. 

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

I'm living in Brentwood, Los Angeles, with three of my five children, as well as my wife.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

My work situation is pretty bananas. When COVID started, I was in the midst of raising money for my series A. Through force of will and a sheer miracle, I was able to get everything completed and to the finish line, and this has been one of the busiest and most creative times of my life. I guess not having the option to leave my house has forced me to hunker down and develop all sorts of projects, many of them which have already sold and been monetized.

Describe your socializing strategy.

Right now, my socializing strategy is a lot of Zoom calls. In the past, where my day would only be three to five specific meetings, we are Zooming nonstop, 24/7. It's been a Zoom-Zoom past few weeks. 

How are you dealing with childcare?

Childcare has been luckily something we've had plenty of support on. We have an amazing nanny, and my wife is homeschooling the kids, although seeing how much screen time they have is something that I think will be offset in the near term with educational podcasts, something that we are very much interested in at Audio Up.

What are you reading?

Right now, I am reading The Men Who Would Be King, the story of how DreamWorks was formulated. I always love the stories of disruptors and entrepreneurs.

What are you watching?

I re-watched Fargo Season 2, and I watched a list of classic movies that I wanted to revisit while I had the time, including: The Long Kiss Goodnight, Chinatown, and for some reason or another, the other night I watched Les Misérables on my couch and started crying. It might have been the three martinis and the five whiskeys.

What are you listening to?

I'm listening to a ton of podcasts that we are creating. We have recorded seven episodes of the Dennis Quaid podcast called The Dennissance, so I'm doing a lot of reviewing and editing with my team. We also just launched a news show called Audio Up News Network, and I'm spending a ton of time working on Uncle Drank, our virtual country artist that we just signed to Warner Brothers. It's been a lot of referencing other pieces of audio content and then making sure that the things that we're creating are measuring up.

How are you staying fit?

I'm staying fit using my Peloton and doing what I call my 8x10 prison workouts in my office. I'm trying to do push ups and arm curls and triceps. By the time this thing's over, I'm going to have the upper body of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the middle of Tom Arnold. It's gonna be what I call "The True Lies Combo Body."

Have you taken up a hobby?

My new hobby that I'm working on is to try to master the art of doing podcasts over Zoom.

Any tips for getting necessities?

Amazon, and really just asking people and having lots of conversations. Although we're all isolated, I feel closer to some of my friends that I haven't seen in years now more than ever, because of the amount of reliance that everybody has on social conversations, as opposed to listening to the news or following headlines. Everybody's forging these communities of information, which I feel brings us all closer together.

An awkward moment since all this started.

Taking my phone to the bathroom during a Zoom call, not realizing that the video was still on. Luckily, the participants got a view of my feet and dropped pants only and maybe a little bit of my ankles. 

Best work email you got since all this started.

The first time I was invited to one of those Zoom happy hours. They seemed to have blown up overnight, and the first time I did it was really fun. Now that I've done tons of those, it's basically turning into an excuse for people to drink earlier and earlier in the day, which turns into a sloppy afternoon and evening.

An aha! moment since all this started.

That content can continue, and that business and commerce will have to move forward even though we are living in some bizarre times. I feel terrible for the film and TV community, I feel terrible for people in service industries, and I'm really hoping this will recover economically and that hopefully the human toll will not be too much for us to bear as a society. This is really scary times, but I'm a pressure player, and I've always thrived in times of chaos. I started my business Jingle Punks during the 2008 housing meltdown, and I'm starting this business in COVID, so I guess anytime you want to predict when a global meltdown is going to occur, just ask me when I'm starting a new business. It's the same way that folks know when it's going to rain in L.A. It's usually the day I wash my car haha. 

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

I think this is going to play out in the next two months, and I believe the world will try to return to normal by August or September. I think there is so much that we don't know about what the spread is caused by, and ultimately what the long-term economic and human impact is going to be. As I said, I'm just wishing and hoping things will return to normal fairly soon, and I hope folks won't give up hope, can stay inspired, and I hope people try to contribute back to society any way they can. In my case, that's by being creative and I hope that I'm doing something positive with all the hard work that I'm putting into content. Please check out Audio Up, and I hope we can make people smile, laugh and by hearing voices and stories, bring communities closer together.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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