We sat down with Dan Weinsten to get the inside scoop about the future of the creator economy. Weinstein is the co-founder of Underscore Talent, a next-generation talent management company that focuses on helping today’s content creators leverage their talent and influence. He takes a deep dive into what led him, and his partners Michael Green and Reza Izad, to found the newly formed management company, where he sees the creator economy heading, how creators can utilize their social influence to catapult into more opportunities and why brands should continue leaning into the world of influencer marketing.
Dan Weinstein has been in the creator space since the beginning, playing in the ‘creator economy sandbox’ before it was even really known as, well, creator economy. In 2007, just two years after YouTube’s launch, Weinstein, along with his partners, Michael and Reza, founded talent management, Studio 71 which focused on helping creators (everyone from YouTube creators to Hollywood stars) build cross-platform influence. Today, this powerful trio is running Underscore Talent and are dedicated to discovering even more talents and even more ways to make them multi-channel names.
You can listen to the episode here:
Dan shares his thoughts on the following topics…
How the allure of Hollywood is shifting: [08:20]
“The allure of Hollywood is shifting. Reality is that more and more audiences are younger, right? The Gen Z audience, the millennials they're consuming much more short form content and content on platforms like TikTok and Instagram and YouTube versus television. And again, not that television can't be a great tool in the arsenal and something that can be transcendent, when it works really well, but it's not necessarily the end goal anymore like it kind of used to be.”
YouTube vs. TikTok [09:34]
“TikTok is just taking over. Its ability to discover new talent and cultivate trends in pop culture and how they can get music to trend on billboards and books to trend on the New York Times list. I mean, TikTok's really an interesting sort of platform, but today even still, YouTube pays out the most amount of money to creators. It's one of the best places to drive passive revenue from what it is that you're doing and build a real audience. It's still where a tremendous amount of eyeballs are. And so I think it'll always be one of the primary platforms.”
What makes a good talent manager: [23:19]
“A good talent manager is somebody that is manufacturing and finding opportunity versus managing incoming opportunity. Getting an incoming opportunity is easy. It comes in through the email system. Thinking - ‘Is this a good idea? Is it not a good idea? Is it the right price? Is it not the right price? Do we do it? Do we not do it?’, you know, that's not rocket science. Really the good talent managers are the ones that put the effort in to grow the opportunity, to grow the business, to find the opportunity that may not be right in front of them and you can only do that by being curious, and a student of the space and hungry and excited and a fan.”
Creators should keep in mind...: [40:52]
“A lot of creators, I think, need to be getting off the hamster wheel of just creating content, content, content, content, content, and understanding how to leverage their relationship with the audience to build long-term value...I tell people that The Rock I really believe is going to be a billionaire and he's not going to be a billionaire from making movies. That was a vehicle that allowed him to build his social currency and his social audience. And yes, it plays into the whole narrative. But in reality, he's going to sell his tequila company for a billion dollars. He's going to sell his energy drink to Coca-Cola. He's going to do this. He's going to do that. It's the enterprises that he's building off of his social currency with his audience. That is going to drive his real wealth. Movies are just a small piece of it.”
David Tintner: All right! We are joined here today with Dan Weinstein, the co-founder and partner of underscore talents, Dan, how's it going?
Dan Weinstein: Pretty good, man. Thanks for having me.
David Tintner: Well, thank you very much for joining us. We have a lot to talk about today, as you have been in the creator space, basically since the beginning, I mean, you've been working in the creator economy before it was called the creator economy.
Dan Weinstein: So a little longer than I care to admit.
David Tintner: Well, the first question I want to ask you is how has it changed over the years? What are some of the biggest changes you've seen?
Dan Weinstein: Oh man. I mean, at a high level, what I, what I tell people is that, you know, even three, four or five years ago, the sort of top half of 1% of creators were lucky if they were earning, you know, a million dollars a year.
Dan Weinstein: And it was generally from a single revenue stream, um, you know, call it YouTube AdSense or brand partnership deals. And maybe they were lucky if they sold some t-shirts, but that was really, it, it was pretty, pretty straightforward and simple. Fast-forward to today, the same top half of 1% of creators are earning tens of millions of dollars and building real companies and enterprises that could be valued upwards of a billion dollars.
Dan Weinstein: No joke. There are completely multi-platform. Their revenue streams are completely diversified and there's a myriad more ways to sort of, uh, monetize one's audience. And it's an incredibly complicated. World. So that I that's, you know, just at a high level, how it's shifted over the years.
David Tintner: So what do you think is the monetization method that you're most bullish on now for creators?
Dan Weinstein: Um, [00:02:00] I think that depends on the creator. I don't, I don't think there's any one right. Answer there. Um, I think that, you know, pricing people's passion is an interesting exercise, right? And whether you have, you know, how voracious your audience is and where they exist and how they like to consume content and how much they want to interact with you, all sort of dictates what opportunities may be best for you and your audience.
Dan Weinstein: I think for some, for example, the idea of band clubs or memberships, right? Be it Patreon or some other things. I think if you're, an educator that's, that's looking to sort of transfer your knowledge to, to an audience and they're hungry to learn, you know, the idea of classes and, you know, things like masterclass and monthly and Skillshare.
Dan Weinstein: These are all really interesting sort of tool sets. Uh, if you're a scaled entertainment provider, you know, YouTube is still one of the best monetization engines out there for, for creators to degenerate passive sort of revenue streams, obviously brand partnerships. Um, [00:03:00] so it really depends on, you know, sort of where you're going, what you're trying to accomplish and who you're speaking to really.
David Tintner: So let's say you're, you're meeting with some talents. Um, you're trying to sign them, maybe just sign them. it takes the process of how you would kind of evaluate that and build out a strategy for them of all of these different options that are out there now, you can't do everything at once. Right? How do you pick the best?
Dan Weinstein: Yeah, I mean, look, it's still a bit of a mix of, of, of art and science, right? Meaning today versus let's say being a manager or a talent agent, you know, 20 years ago when it was sort of just, you know, you stuck your finger in the air and, and, and sort of said, I believe that this person has talent. Right.
Dan Weinstein: And, and I think I can help them. Right. It's still that for sure. You never really know what's going to connect what people are going to respond to, but you also have a lot of data and a lot of tools to help evaluate, you know, audience engagement and trajectory and, and, and sort of where content is being consumed and how it flows.
Dan Weinstein: And I think that [00:04:00] sort of plays into the analysis over what might work, what might pop, what might breakthrough versus not, but at the end of the day, you got to believe in something and that it has the ability to cultivate and captivate an audience at some level of meaningful scale. And then once we do that, you know, because the environment has gotten so, complicated and there's so many opportunities for so many creators.
Dan Weinstein: I often find myself sort of pulling back with creators and saying, look, yes, all of this is available to you. All of these are interesting opportunities, but you can't dilute your focus so much that you don't actually end up executing at a high level. Right. Let's pick the one thing that's most important.
Dan Weinstein: Let's pick the second thing let's build, you know, the blocking and tackling needs to get done. And. Finish a before you go to be before you go to see. And, and I think a lot of creators get into trouble by not scaling appropriately and sort of spreading themselves too thin. And so that's, that's part of the early strategy is where are [00:05:00] we today?
Dan Weinstein: Where do we want to go tomorrow? And what are the steps that we need to focus on to get there and not dilute our efforts
David Tintner: you're working with. A-list creators, A-list talent in general, not, not just, , people that have come up on, on content platforms, but actually celebrities in the traditional sense as well.
David Tintner: Yeah. Can you share an example of how you, maybe had to say like a hard 'no' to one of these opportunities, because I guess they're getting them all the time and that, that was the right decision.
Dan Weinstein: Not off the top of my head, but there's, there's a lot of, I mean, look, there's, the inbox is flooded with, with opportunities for people, right. , and it's really sort of evaluating what are the opportunities that are not just transactional, right? That don't just have a dollar amount, but are actually helping to further.
Dan Weinstein: The the strategy, right? The, the career trajectory, the, the, looking at things through the lens of where I want to be or where they want to be in five years, and making smart [00:06:00] decisions, and setting themselves up for longterm success versus short-term revenue necessarily. I think we do a lot of evaluating in that, in that regard.
Dan Weinstein: , I'll give you another example. This, this may be comes from a couple of years ago, but you know, we were working. A number of different creators when TV was really interested in sort of bringing over personalities and trying to see if what was working online would work on, on television.
Dan Weinstein: And I remember going into, I think it was E! At the time with one of the biggest talent on the platform and we're going through sort of what a deal would look like for them to host a show and for them to do this and do that. And it was sort of, you know, an exciting opportunity at the time.
Dan Weinstein: And when we got the deal and we'd sort of really started to think through it. We're like, wait, what are we actually trying to accomplish here? What, what are we doing? We're going to give away our IP to this television network. We're essentially going to be a work for hire. They're going to own [00:07:00] everything.
Dan Weinstein: They're going to tell us what to do. We're going to be at their Beck and call. And even at that time, the economics for what they were doing were better on YouTube in that regard. And so we decided to pass on that opportunity because they could control their IP. They were building their audience.
Dan Weinstein: They were where their audience was consuming content. They had better economic value, more ownership. And so why, but just because TV was the thing, you know, to do, like that's where the analysis sort of comes into play and go. Maybe that's not right now. I'm not saying. Creators or influencers shouldn't be on TV.
Dan Weinstein: It just needs to be in the right way for the right thing. And, and I don't want to say necessarily under their terms, because it's a partnership, but like it's got to fulfill the longterm sort of goal. Right. Um, and not just be because I'm on TV.
David Tintner: And that says a lot about how much the world of content.
David Tintner: has really grown. So the fact that you could say the [00:08:00] economics of, you know, something like TV, you know, Hollywood, but we all kind of grew up picturing, like that's the pinnacle of success is actually questionable in this case that you're describing. Like, it, it actually, in this case, it wasn't even better than what they're doing in the world of content
Dan Weinstein: yeah, I think, I think in a lot of cases, that's true, right? It's, it's sort of the, the allure of Hollywood that drives it. But reality is more and more audiences is younger, right? The gen Z audience, the millennials they're consuming much more short form content and content on, on platforms like Tik TOK and Instagram and YouTube versus television.
Dan Weinstein: And again, not that television, can't be a great tool in the arsenal and something that can be transcendent, uh, when it works really well, but it's not necessarily the end goal anymore. And shouldn't be the end goal anymore. Like it kind of used to be,
David Tintner: so you kind of came up as, as YouTube was coming up.
David Tintner: And I imagine for a long time, YouTube was the primary platform [00:09:00] that you were doing most of your business on represented creators from., is that still the case for you? The primary platform that you're dealing with or has
David Tintner: changed
Dan Weinstein: I still think it's one of the biggest, I don't know that I would call it the primary platform and I think it depends on creators.
Dan Weinstein: I mean, you, you watch what TikTok is, doing. I mean, , that is just taking over, you know, at a clip that's really, really insane. Um, and how they're able to discover new talent and cultivate trends in, in, in sort of pop culture and how they can get music to trend on billboard and books to trend on the New York times list.
Dan Weinstein: I mean, theTikTok's talks really, really an interesting sort of platform, but today even still. YouTube pays out the most amount of money to creators. It's one of the best places to drive passive revenue from what it is that you're, you're doing it and build real audience. It's still where a tremendous amount of eyeballs are.
Dan Weinstein: And so I think it'll always be one of the primary platforms, but there's a lot more to focus on these days.
David Tintner: When did you get. [00:10:00] Realize that Tik TOK was going to be something worth focusing on. Do you remember that, that point?
Dan Weinstein: I don't remember the exact point. I mean, we were very interested in the early days of musically, which is sort of what it was before it's sold to sort of bite dance and became sort ofTikTok.
Dan Weinstein: Being in the space, you sorta just get a front row seat at all these new platforms, like when vine was buying and like you were really taking a look at that. I couldn't have told you that vine was going to work or it wasn't going to work. What I could tell you is that there was talent popping off of it that were building real engagement and real audience.
Dan Weinstein: And I think that. That's a real driver for me. Um, ultimately most of the vine talent ended up migrating to Instagram because it was a more stable platform and more scalable. And there was a lot more opportunity being derived from it. But you can see the same thing happening with musically.
Dan Weinstein: You can see the, the creation element, um, being a lot easier, the barrier of entry being a lot easier on something like a musically or ultimately Tik TOK [00:11:00] then than it was on YouTube. Um, where there was a lot more skill and art involved in crafting the content. But I would tell you that it was not probably last year, maybe the year before, where the business started to catch up with Tik TOK.
Dan Weinstein: So the audience was there and growing, um, people were sort of popping, right? You had the Emilio's and the Addison raise, you know, really starting to sort of climb those charts. But I would say in the last 18 months, the revenue potential brands taking a close look at it, music companies understanding the power of the platform.
Dan Weinstein: That's when we started to see a lot of transactions shift or desire to, to transact shift from things like Instagram, maybe YouTube, not in their entirety, but definitely taking market share of those opportunities for this new breed of creator. And definitely as it relates to the sort of younger demographics, right.
Dan Weinstein: Sort of that gen Z, sort of audience in [00:12:00] particular. So that's when something really shifted
David Tintner: I remember for me, I was at VidCon in 2019 in LA. And, everyone started talking about Tik TOK and it was kind of just like this, this slow rumbling through the audience thinking, man, I'm, you know, I'm someone who's supposed to be knowledgeable about this industry.
David Tintner: I'm working this industry all day long left and right. And I'm like, I know nothing about this thing. There's a lot of platforms coming out. There's, there's all the time, kind of these shiny balls and you're not sure which one to chase and really dive deep into it. And I remember thinking about it back then and I'm like, yeah, I don't know if it's really the time.
David Tintner: So that's, what, what I'm really curious about is if you, um, kind of have some framework for knowing which shiny balls to chase after and which ones to let go, or maybe wait a little longer and not be the first adopter
Dan Weinstein: yeah. I don't know that there's, there's like a silver bullet kind of answer to that.
Dan Weinstein: I mean, I think you just have to be a consumer of all things and [00:13:00] sort of really understand sort of what's going on. For me, it's, it's engagement of audience. Like if you can really dive in and sort of see that there's there's real scale. It's not just a viral trend that goes away, but there's real sort of ongoing growth and scale on an individual level and on a platform level.
Dan Weinstein: And at the engagement with the audience is there. Right. Which you can see, what is the consistent viewership look like? Right. Separate the outliers and the viral videos like, uh, The ocean spray, Tik TOK, you know, thing, and, and all like separate all that out. But if, if you're a Demilio, for example, just I'm using that cause she was at the top.
Dan Weinstein: Um, and every video that you're getting is getting millions and millions of views and engagements and, and, and it grows over time. There's something there that you have to pay attention to. That's just sort of how I evaluate it and how, how I look at it. And [00:14:00] look, there are others that, you know, around like Triller is trying to compete with Tik TOK and, and take audience away.
Dan Weinstein: And, you know, I, I just don't know that it's there. Right. I don't, I don't see the engagement. I don't see the adoption. I don't see it in pop culture in an incredibly meaningful way. Like you do some of the other things that start to pop. And so I'm paying less attention there.
David Tintner: So I want to ask you about, your newest venture, underscore, take us through, what led to the idea for you to, to found a new company and it's elementary.
Dan Weinstein: Yeah. So, you know, my partner Reza and I had been running a large YouTube MCN, started out as collective digital studio and sort of morphed over time into, uh, a company called studio 71. Once we sold it to a German broadcast group. Um, and even prior to that, The, the idea for collective digital studio was incubated or born inside of a traditional management company and all of my partners, um, at the time, and [00:15:00] currently came from that traditional representation world that our DNA was born out of being advocates for artists and, and being responsible for helping them build their opportunities and their careers.
Dan Weinstein: And. Yeah, that was something that we were always, um, you know, sort of brought up to do and had a sort of passion around. Um, and that's what collective digital studio started out. As in the digital space, we were representing some of the earliest content creators out there from Fred. If you remember that character that we made a couple of movies with and we sold it to Nickelodeon or licensed it rather, I should say to Nickelodeon, the annoying orange
Dan Weinstein: um, Freddie Wong Ray, when Johnson, I just seen Shane Dawson. Like we had a lot of that first breed of, of YouTube star. Um, very clearly as, as, as managers, um, over time, the opportunity for us as a company shifted into becoming an MCN. Which was also a way to help creators and provide real value, but required a little more investment in a little bit of a different business model.
Dan Weinstein: And as that [00:16:00] business started to scale and opportunities shifted, we sort of went further and further away from being a true representative of talent, you know, and a fiduciary to that individual to being sort of a third party vendor that provided some valuable services to creators, but just in a very specific.
Dan Weinstein: Lane. Right. We finally reached a point where, you know, Reza, I saw a lot of opportunity to sort of almost pivot backwards in our evolution to becoming talent managers again the opportunity for creators has never been, you know, bigger.
Dan Weinstein: It's also never been more complicated. And in our, in our point of view, you know, the, the management space has not matured as quickly as the opportunity has for creators. And we, we felt like that was white space. That was an opportunity to come in with. A lot of experience in both the traditional world and the digital world and beat it, building media companies, having scaled management businesses prior to build a framework of what, [00:17:00] um, you know, a sort of a fully scaled and sophisticated management plans.
Dan Weinstein: Could look like operating in particular in this world, which requires a unique set of skillsets and understanding versus representing actors, for example, or, or whatever else it may be. And there was no for lack of a better example, Brillstein gray or CAA of this world. And that's what we sort of had set out to build.
Dan Weinstein: Um, and we sort of officially launched in January. We're feeling great about the team. We've got some really talented managers and some great clients and, you know, we're sort of off to the races.
David Tintner: Was it tough to leave studio 71 where you've been for so long? Is that hard decision?
Dan Weinstein: Um, yes and no.
Dan Weinstein: I mean, it was, it was a, it was a little bittersweet. I mean, that was, you know, Reza and eyes. Baby or brainchild that we sort of nourished from really just me as being employee number one to a company that [00:18:00] was 300 people and operating in 10 different countries and, and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
Dan Weinstein: Uh, You know, I, I take a lot of pride in the fact that it's sort of one of the longest lasting, if not the only lasting sort of MCN from the, from that stage. I think we did it a little better than most. Um, and, and, and, but I was, we were ready for our next challenge, right. We, we had, had done what we had set out to do, and there was, again, a tremendous amount of opportunity in the space and it was just ready for, um, you know, change.
David Tintner: So, what is your title is co-founder and partner, but what is your, let's say area that you're, um, handling within the company?
Dan Weinstein: Uh, I tend to focus most of my efforts on the talent business. Right. Um, Recruiting and finding, you know, talented managers and executives to help build out our ranks, um, identifying talent [00:19:00] opportunities, signing talent and representing talent, uh, I myself today, and even representing some of the, some of the talent that we have in the building and, and building opportunity, finding fun deals and, and, and crafting careers.
Dan Weinstein: And, you know, I take a lot of pride in. Um, and then mentoring and managing the young or talent managers and people that are building their careers, um, by representing talent. That's sort of how I spend the majority of my time. And, you know, Reza he's much more of the, the operator who puts all the pieces together and make sure the trains are running on time and, you know, his sort of strategy and yada yada, yada.
David Tintner: in underscore, is there, is there a CEO?
Dan Weinstein: No, we don't, we don't have that title resident. I founded the company and we sort of run it together as co CEOs, if you will. But we're, we're a relatively flat organization and we've got partners and, and, and we've got managers and, and we're all sort of in this together.
Dan Weinstein: And you [00:20:00] know, one of the things that we set out to do in particular, Was built an incredibly collaborative environment. Right. You know, I think a lot of agencies and management companies can get stuck in the idea that an individual manager or agent, you know, tends to be a little siloed because that's how they make their money.
Dan Weinstein: They want the deals for their clients to do this thing, and, and it's hard to break free from that mold, especially where that, you know, when that's where your incentive lies. And so we spent a great deal of time focused on how do we incentivize collaboration, not just because we're telling you to do it, but because it's good for you and it's good for your clients.
Dan Weinstein: Um, and how do we build, um, a really positive and diverse sort of culture? Um, and those were things that we started to build from the, from the ground up. And then I think we've done a pretty, pretty solid job of doing, and we're, we're very aware because this is almost how studio 71 was built in its early stages.
Dan Weinstein: A good idea can come from anywhere. It could come from the most junior [00:21:00] person on the team to the, to the most senior person on the team. We wanted to create an environment that fosters that kind of thinking and that kind of, uh, collaboration.
David Tintner: How do you, um, incentivize that when I assume commission or something is on the table and someone might be potentially losing their commission, if they give over a deal to someone else.
Dan Weinstein: You're you're you're right. I won't necessarily get into the specifics of what our structures look like, but yes, there's a financial system in place that does not disincentivize people. And it also incentivizes people, uh, which are two different things, um, to, to collaborate, right.
Dan Weinstein: So you're not losing and you're actually gaining and rising tides raise all ships.
David Tintner: Very cool. So you mentioned that you're, you're doing a lot of things related to the company and its itself, but you're also personally managing the talent.
David Tintner: I assume that, you know, there's no infinite amount of hours in a day, is there kind of [00:22:00] like. A special number of the amount of talent that you want to personally manage, or some way, some capacity that you have that you're trying to fill for that.
Dan Weinstein: It's a good question. I think I'll know it when I, when I, when I hit it, when I hit the limit.
Dan Weinstein: So I don't know today. I like to be pretty opportunistic, um, on behalf of my clients and, and the company. And so I take on what I can take on. And I also am really excited about sort of growing our manager base. And if I can come in and. For lack of a better term, call it co-manage and, and help strategize and have someone else on the team.
Dan Weinstein: Be my partner in that piece of business, where we share the work and we share the opportunities, um, you know, that can free up some, some bandwidth as well. Some I'm excited to do that. I, I already do that with a number of our, our managers and clients.
David Tintner: What do you think makes a good talent manager?
Dan Weinstein: A thick skin. I think it depends. I mean, look, there's a, there's a lot of qualities that, that I think go into talent management and [00:23:00] I kid, but, but not really right. It's patience right. Understanding empathy. Um, Hustle you gotta be curious and you've gotta be, voracious in your, in your understanding of, of culture and, and entertainment.
Dan Weinstein: You have to be a fan, right. A good talent manager is somebody that is manufacturing and finding opportunity versus managing incoming opportunity. That's always the easy part. Getting an incoming opportunity is, is easy. It comes in through the, through the email system.
Dan Weinstein: Is this a good idea? Is it not a good idea? Is the right price? Is it not the right price? Do we do it? Do we not do it? You know, that's not rocket science, really the good talent managers are the ones that put the effort in to grow the opportunity, to grow the business, to find the opportunity that may not be right in front of them.
Dan Weinstein: and you can only do that by being curious, and a student of the space and hungry and excited and
David Tintner: [00:24:00] You mentioned that your mentoring, some of the other people in the company and that you're working on the kind of partnership. Do you have a mentor yourself?
Dan Weinstein: I do. Yeah. I mean, I've, I have several, I think in my, in my lives through various different periods of time, My two partners, I would call my biggest mentors, even though they are my partners, um, Michael Green and Reza.
Dan Weinstein: I sort of grew up with them, right. I started at the collective as an assistant and they really, um, took me under their wing and taught me a tremendous amount and treated me as their partner over time. I would absolutely consider them sort of my, my mentors in the space.
Dan Weinstein: My dad has always been a mentor of mine and when I was at UTA, for the brief spin I was there, one of my bosses there Shanie was, was a great friend and mentor to me. There's mentors at moments and times, and some lasts for 10 or 15 years, and some are in a, in a very confined space, but have a profound impact on what you're doing and where you're going.
Dan Weinstein: And so those are some of the [00:25:00] ones off the top of my head good shout out.
David Tintner: So I didn't realize that, that you, you started at the collective as an assistant and worked your way up from there. , how is that kind of, um, I mean, that's, that's pretty unique, you know, you worked your way to the top and how has that shaped, I guess your outlook on things from where you stand now.
Dan Weinstein: I think it's really, it's it's the opportunity can come from anywhere if you're open to it. Right. You know, I was listening to a podcast actually very recently, , with Chris Sacca on the 20 minute VC where he said yes, there's luck, but it's not an accident. Right. It's putting your
Dan Weinstein: self in a position that when opportunity sort of finds its way to your doorstep, that you can, you know, be, nimble enough and sharp enough to actually recognize it and then execute upon it and sort of filling voids when you find them and sort of making yourself indispensable is sort of how.
Dan Weinstein: I have built my, my sort of [00:26:00] trajectory. And I tell that to a lot of the young folks that are sort of coming into the space and coming into, you know, in particular in our companies, it's it's, you, you just have to have wide eyes, right. And, and sort of just a voracious curiosity and, and be willing to sort of pivot here and there, even though not may or may not fit into the idea of what your path may be or what you thought it would be.
Dan Weinstein: That's what I learned because, you know, as an assistant, I was, I was doing marketing on a DVD business, you know, and then it just morphed into, okay. I was now I was marketing. You know, and I was using YouTube as a, as a marketing tool for some of the content that we were creating. And then I got into the YouTube space and sort of made an early partnership deal with YouTube for essentially our stand-up comedy content that led me to the first YouTube stars that led us to representing them as managers that led us to becoming an MCN.
Dan Weinstein: And it was just sort of, you know, sort of pivoting left and right before we figured out what, what the opportunity
David Tintner: Is there a single point or events that you can point [00:27:00] to where you, you were like, okay, um, I'm no longer, you know, Dan, the assistant, like I've kind of made it in this world.
Dan Weinstein: I don't know if it's I've, I've made it in this world, but I can, I can tell you, there was a moment in time where.
Dan Weinstein: I was doing some smaller deals again, as marketing for our content business, leveraging YouTube as a platform where revenues started to come in to the business. Right. I got a $10,000 check from YouTube for our content one month, and then it was a $30,000 check.
Dan Weinstein: And then it was a $50,000 check. And. That sort of cemented to me that a, this was an opportunity we're chasing, there was real revenue associated with it that, uh, the platform was growing and that I had found something that I could really sort of take ownership of or sink my teeth into that would set me on my path in a very real way.
Dan Weinstein: And I think that was sort of the moment where, where that sort of codified a bit. But I'm still [00:28:00] trying to make it. W what
David Tintner: was your, I guess like your next, maybe official promotion?
Dan Weinstein: The funny thing is I never really had an official promotion.
Dan Weinstein: You know, I was always sort of like, Hey, you know, here, here's a nice, here's a, here's a bonus or here's your next sort of contract kind of a thing, but there was nothing to be promoted to. We were kind of making it up as we went along, to be honest with you. Um, and so there were sort of two moments. I was promoted from an assistant to.
Dan Weinstein: To whatever I was, which didn't really have a title. And the way that that happened was I was getting so busy doing other things. I went to my boss at the time his phone was ringing and I couldn't answer it because I was on a more important phone call. And he's like, why aren't you answering my phone?
Dan Weinstein: I said, dude, I'm too busy to answer your phone and schedule your meetings. You might want to hire another assistant or. And so he's like, okay, hire me an assistant. And that was how I was sort of promoted out of being an assistant. was a guy named Gary Benko. He was part of the DNA of the collective through studio 71 for, uh, for a long time.
Dan Weinstein: It was because I had work to [00:29:00] do it was, it was, I made opportunity and I was executing on it versus, Hey, it's been a year or it's been three years time to get promoted. Right. Yeah, I, I sort of made, made the thing happen. And then the next thing that happened was they made me a partner in the MCN that we were building right at the moment in time, where we decided to actually part ways with the management company, the traditional management company, and sort of double down and focus on the digital business, which was collective digital studio.
Dan Weinstein: When we sort of formalized. You know, they brought me in and made me a partner in that as I was leading that sort of initiative. And those were the only two moments that I can recall that were sort of like official, you know, sort of promotions.
David Tintner: what is that like having a company where, um, there aren't a lot of levels of hierarchy and I guess a lot of people are making a lot of
Dan Weinstein: decisions. Yeah. I mean, there definitely is now and has been for the last five years at studio 71, right? Like once, once you hit a certain level of [00:30:00] scale, there needs to be a level of hierarchy.
Dan Weinstein: There are, there are departments, there are department heads. There are. You know, VPs and SVPs and, and sort of the whole thing. And when you have 300 plus people or whatever it is, you know, that's inevitable or the whole thing will sort of go away. I find that to be, you know, just my own personal taste.
Dan Weinstein: I thrive in an environment where it's sort of all hands on deck. Right. I remember in the early days of. Collective digital studio. I just called myself whatever I needed to call myself. Like I was the chief content officer. One day I was the chief digital officer the other next day. And I was the president one day and I was this, that, and the other thing because somebody else wanted that title and I didn't care.
Dan Weinstein: So you can have that one and I'll take this one and you know, that that's more exciting to me. It's just building the pieces to get to a point that that's meaningful. I'm not one that tends to thrive in sort of like a rigid, structured environment all the time, but I'm learning.
David Tintner: So that would underscore your you're kind of [00:31:00] back on the entrepreneurial game and building the pieces again.
David Tintner: And what is the, that would be meaningful for the exit, if you will, or kind of the, where do you want to get to.
Dan Weinstein: I mean, I don't know. I mean, I can tell you that, that we have very lofty ambitions. Right. And that there's a tremendous amount of opportunity. I can also tell you, I don't know where that opportunity is going to, going to lead or what is going to be the ultimate thing that accrues the most value, right?
Dan Weinstein: Like, like in the collective days, it started as one company and became a wholly other company, during its sort of path. So. It might be something that we don't even know exists yet. That, that becomes an opportunity to chase. Is it a sale? Sure. Maybe do we just, do we just build a really great profitable business?
Dan Weinstein: That's helping creators navigate this world that, goes on forever. Yeah. I think that's an opportunity too. Is it a small business [00:32:00] it's built off of this company that ultimately gets spun off and turns into something? That's an opportunity. I think we're open to sort of everything, but we don't have like a, Hey in three to five years, we need to be this big and we're going to sell to that.
Dan Weinstein: And like there's no, there's no path like that, that we're, you know, focused on at the moment
David Tintner: because you've already, you've already sold the car and also, you know, stayed with the company after the sale and seen that through. I think you have a pretty unique perspective on this. Does that make you more or less?
David Tintner: Want to, for a sale now.
Dan Weinstein: Uh, look there's there's pluses and minuses of selling, obviously. I think that, you know, whenever you invite somebody new into your ownership structure and to your business, there are challenges, right? Some go really well, some go less well and some are in the middle and you don't know what you're going to get until you get it.
Dan Weinstein: And there can be, [00:33:00] that can be wrought with. Challenges. So you gotta be clear that that's something that you want to take on at that particular moment in time. But no, we're not in a rush. We, we think there's so much opportunity out there. Uh, We love helping creators.
Dan Weinstein: We love, we love this space, the creator economy. I mean, we were there at its inception and frankly, I would say we helped drive it to where it is today. Certainly not all by ourselves, but we were part of the, of the journey. And, and there's, and we're still in like the first couple of innings. I mean, it's really still early days.
Dan Weinstein: In this world where money's coming into the space, more creators are coming into the space, more content is being consumed. Um, it's just a really exciting time to, to play in it. And we've got a really great sandbox that we've built and that's what we're doing. We're playing in the sand
Dan Weinstein: My two partners, Michael and Reza I, uh, self-funded the business. We took some of the proceeds from our sales. You know, proceed and, and sort of [00:34:00] self-funded the business. Um, so we're well-funded, and very quickly, you know, I think through, through some luck, but not accident and some good hiring and great partners and.
Dan Weinstein: Good signing of great talent and people buying into the story. We've built a pretty, a pretty good business. That's scaling appropriately, right? We're profitable. We've got revenue coming in, um, it's cashflowing itself. And, that was sort of the goal from the, from the beginning.
David Tintner: So it's, it's profitable company
Dan Weinstein: yeah. And since January, we're at we're up to 35 members of the team. We've got about 110, 115, uh, clients all across the board and a variety of different genres and verticals. So we really feel like we've got some strong momentum, in 10 months during a pandemic, mind you not to pat ourselves on the back, but like, you know, the idea of starting a new company, mid pandemic, when, you know, we don't have office space.
Dan Weinstein: I mean, there was five months where I had hired a bunch of people I had [00:35:00] never met before. Um, just over zoom. So it's like, I'm still coming to you from my, from my home office. It's kinda crazy, but it's been a lot of fun and, and challenging in ways that I didn't expect. And, and it's, it's been great
David Tintner: Something that has been part of our DNA, organic growth, and actually growing from, you know, real money from real sales, from real customers. But there's such an influx, you know, really, even in just like this past year, Opportunities and outside money. And, um, even though we're prepping, it's like hard to kind of work that money is being thrown around and it's a startup world and companies, especially in the.
David Tintner: Is it something that you consider now as well?
Dan Weinstein: I mean, look, I think again, I don't think you can be close-minded minded to anything. Yes. There's a tremendous amount of liquidity out there. That's looking for a good home, right? It's a, if you needed to raise, it's a good environment [00:36:00] to raise, if you have a good story or a good product
Dan Weinstein: And so, yeah, I think we would explore that. Um, but really what it comes down to is. What's the trick. Do you need to do it right? Do you, do you want partners in your business? Do you need the capital and know what you would use the capital for, to, to, to grow if you do, if you have a need and you know, what you would use it for, whether it's a need or it's, or it's a desire to accelerate and amplify what it is that you're doing.
Dan Weinstein: You have some sort of maybe some comps help, you better understand what the potential. Mark it looks like, and, and then get, go for it. But I wouldn't raise money just to raise money, right. Just to have it. I think there, there needs to be a salient, you know, need or, or desire and, and look, and there's more value in money than just money it's, who's putting in the money.
Dan Weinstein: Right. What's the, strategic reason for raising that money. And from whom I think plays into that, uh, thesis as well. So at the right time for the [00:37:00] right partners, I think we absolutely be open to doing that hyper growing the hyper accelerating are, are already great organic growth.
David Tintner: Is all of your revenue coming from, um, the talent management services or are there other revenue streams coming into the business?
Dan Weinstein: No, there's there's other revenue streams coming into the business. And I think this is indicative of what I think a management company or platform needs to be that operates in this world.
Dan Weinstein: You've got the management business, which is the core, right. Um, and that fuels everything and that's the most important talent first. And then we've got, um, a services business that is providing real, tangible services to, to creators. Or are sort of hyper-relevant to helping them grow their businesses.
Dan Weinstein: Right? So, um, whether that be editing services or distribution or syndication or other, other activities that are a little more scalable that have a different margin profile to them. Um, but [00:38:00] that, that really, you know, for a particular class of creator are our real needs to help them grow. That's driving a lot of our revenue today.
Dan Weinstein: And then, we're starting to see some revenue even, cause we're still pretty young in our evolution in sort of our partnerships, you know, sort of division, which is. What I would refer to is, I don't know, venture opportunities, right? Partnering with talent on building products, building brands, building companies, investing alongside of them.
Dan Weinstein: We just launched a cosmetics line with one of our clients, Selena spooky, boo who's. Who's got, north of 20 million followers on Tik TOK and that's going extremely well. I think we sold out of our first drop in, under a week and, you know, we're eyeing up a, another drop for holidays and.
Dan Weinstein: four more into next year. And I think that'll be a really profitable business for us and will it become Kylie's cosmetics? I don't know, but that's, that's what we're trying to build towards. And that's, that's working in, and we're really excited about too. So there's a lot [00:39:00] of different kinds of revenue streams that come in and a lot of different types of services that we provide.
David Tintner: That's really cool. , can you talk a little bit more about that kind of. I guess the investment arm, if you will, or the partnerships arm, and, um, other things you're doing in that area, because I really like that take of, you're not just representing the talent, you're actually your becoming the business as well.
Dan Weinstein: Yeah, so I think it, it takes a number of different, um, there's a number of ways to skin the cat in that, in that piece of the business, but at a, at a high level it's how do you identify market opportunities? Marry them with. Talent or a group of talent or influence, you know, whatever, whatever it is.
Dan Weinstein: Um, And then packaged together, um, an opportunity and whether we sort of finance all or a piece of it, or we were just helping to sort of put the package together, get it off the ground and then spinning off and raise money against it or, or whatever. Those are the opportunities that [00:40:00] we think are going to have asymmetric returns.
Dan Weinstein: For the creators and for us. And because we are in business with the creator on a number of different levels, right on the management side, potentially on the services side. And we have just some real first party data and experience onto what might work, what might not work, a willingness to invest.
Dan Weinstein: Sort of a lens into sort of the opportunities that are out there in the marketplace. Like I think we can be a little bit more tactical and effective about how we sort of package these opportunities together and already have a built in trust with the, with the creator so that they know we're executing the right vision.
Dan Weinstein: And, and we know where. The potholes might be and where the opportunities may lie. And that's where we're, I think most excited about, I think it's the most lucrative piece and frankly, and maybe not right for every creator, but how most creators or a lot of creators, I think, need to be thinking these days, which is getting off the hamster wheel of just
Dan Weinstein: creating content, [00:41:00] content, content, content, content, and understanding how to leverage their relationship with the audience to build long-term value. Right?
David Tintner: Yeah. It's the evolution of, I create content and people like it, so I can go sell some other company's products to the people that liked my content to saying, wait a second, maybe I can just create the product myself
Dan Weinstein: Right? I mean, look, it it's oftentimes not, not that easy. Right? It's very challenging. A lot of them will not work. Um, and, and not everybody has the power to, to do that or the, the the veracity of audience, et cetera, et cetera. But you know, I, this is a little hyperbolic, but I tell people that look the rock
Dan Weinstein: I really believe is going to be a billionaire, right. And he's not going to be a billionaire from making movies, that was a vehicle that allowed him to build his social currency and his social audience. And yes, it plays into the whole narrative. But in reality, he's going to [00:42:00] sell his tequila company for a billion dollars to Diageo or whomever.
Dan Weinstein: He ends up selling it to he's going to sell him. Energy drink to Coca-Cola. He's going to do this. He's going to do that. It's the enterprises that he's building off of his social currency with his audience, right. That are going to drive his real wealth. Right. Movies is just a small piece of it. Same thing with Ryan Reynolds, same thing with Gweneth Paltrow, right?
Dan Weinstein: Same thing with Jessica Alba. George Clooney. The majority of that wealth is created in businesses that are crafted around what it is that they're doing. You remove the movies, the rock is not the rock. So I get what I'm saying. Right? Well, a little hyperbolic, but still it's the it's, it's that kind of thinking, it's leveraging your relationship with the audience, your place in pop culture and all of that sort of stuff to drive real value for yourself.
Dan Weinstein: That's where the opportunity lies.
David Tintner: I think it also shows that we kind of already knew this, but that [00:43:00] just really slams the point home that people want to buy products that are endorsed by the creators or influencers that they trust. And that they'd been following that's that enforcement has become invaluable.
Dan Weinstein: That's right. And I think brands in general, whether they're, you know, the Rock's brand or some other brand are need to have. A personality, right? Whether there's a figurehead in front of it, or it's just the brand itself, has a personality and has come to sort of stand for something. You're not going to have many more brands like tide that just, you know, Proctor and gamble creates or this or that, that are, that are faceless and content-less and brand-less and whatever survive it's going to be the new.
Dan Weinstein: Generation of brands that have your influencer leader, like Elon Musk, who in my opinion, is equal parts, influencer as CEO, right. Or whatever there's going to be, that, that person, that, that [00:44:00] drives the narrative, um, or the brand that drives the narrative itself, that drive value for this next generation.
David Tintner: So up until now, we've in this discussion, we've kind of been thinking about your client underscores client as the creator influencer, uh, and all the things that you can do with them. Do you also work with brands from the other side that are coming and saying like we're just an a company
David Tintner: we're just a brand name without that kind of face to it. And we want to do something to give ourselves that face, or we want to make an impact in some way.
Dan Weinstein: So, I don't know that underscore is ever going to be like a consumer brand if that's sort of the question, but we do work with brands in a, in a variety of capacities, usually as it relates to our talent and, and our first priority is to our talent.
Dan Weinstein: But we'll do some consulting for brands, right. That want to understand more about the creator economy, how to work with talent, how to put together their influencer strategy or whatever [00:45:00] it is. Um, you know, because we're sort of experts in that space. So we'll, we'll do a little bit of consulting.
Dan Weinstein: Obviously we do a lot of brokering of deals between brands and creators, right? That's a big revenue generator for creators, for underscore, and those are sort of the, the biggest ways in which we work with brands.
David Tintner: I guess what I'm, what it's making me think about is like we see, you know, Mr.
David Tintner: Beast opens up over a thousand, uh, burger shops around the country. Everyone's going wild for this. Right. And you know, a brand like McDonald's comes along and like, wait a second. We have thousands of burger shops. Okay. We don't have, you know, the YouTube channel that, uh, has, you know, a face of a creator that everyone loves.
David Tintner: Like, what do we do? What do we do? You know, I see stopping shops all day long. Um, I don't know what, what kind of burn like
Dan Weinstein: that, but they're competing, right? So the ones that get it and I'll put McDonald's frankly, as one that gets it. Are doing it in their own way. So while they might not open up a bunch of restaurants for Mr.
Dan Weinstein: Beast there, Travis Scott collaboration was [00:46:00] wildly successful, right? It was find somebody that's, that's influential in pop culture that has an audience and create an authentic partnership with them. That's not just putting them on a TV commercial, but it's actually like, this was the Travis Scott meal.
Dan Weinstein: And then they did limited edition. Travis Scott merged with McDonald's that was selling for thousands and thousands of dollars on the black market. And that was a great sort of collaboration. And they're replicating that. And they've even started to go into sort of more, uh, you know, digitally native let's call it, uh, creators to do that.
Dan Weinstein: I think they worked with Bryce hall or, you know, one of them, or maybe that was burger king or Wendy's, or they're starting to play in that space. Taco bell does this really well with, with influencers? And, and embracing them and, and understanding that it's not just put somebody in a commercial or pay someone to say, Hey, I love taco bell, but when you dive in Dunkin donuts did this great with, theDemillio's right.[00:47:00]
Dan Weinstein: It started out as what's the Dixie drink or what's the Demilio drink. Um, and that had a tremendous ROI for a Dunkin donuts beyond what their expectations were. And that led to. Uh, ironically again, collaborative merch where they were selling Dunkin donuts, branded merch with the Demillio's and that's going to be a multi-year collaboration versus just a sponsorship deal.
David Tintner: Yeah. I want to ask you a question about one subject. We haven't touched on too much today, but I know that your time in the studio, 71, you guys were leaning really into was, uh, the world of podcasting. Are you big on podcasting and think that there's, um, a lot to be done there. And what is underscored related to that?
Dan Weinstein: So, absolutely. I mean, if you look at the entertainment landscape at the moment, I would argue that some of the largest deals are actually podcast deals, right. And I don't [00:48:00] necessarily just mean for influencers, but if you look at joe Rogan, that was a hundred million plus dollar deal.
Dan Weinstein: Bill Simmons was, uh, you know, a hundred plus million dollar deal or whatever it was, Call her Daddy, 60 million for three years, just, you know, renting that sort of property smartless was 80 or 90 or whatever, a hundred million dollar deal that was. Um, I think, you know, the next one to go is probably pod save America.
Dan Weinstein: I mean, when you build up a substantive audience, in audio at the moment, because there's so much competition between Spotify and apple and Amazon and all the, all the players, there's a huge value to be had there. So I'm very bullish on podcasting, uh, and the way that it reaches, reaches an audience and the value of its advertising.
Dan Weinstein: Um, I think it's, it's huge. Uh, some may say it's a bubble maybe it is, I don't know when that bubble's going to pop, but there's a lot more players in that space now than there have been. And that usually [00:49:00] leads to more opportunity. And so we're as an underscore we're evaluating those opportunities on behalf of our clients.
Dan Weinstein: Some of them have podcasts and we're helping them to grow their podcasts. We're helping them to maybe make better deals or find better partners or different partners or what we're, whatever it is. Uh, in some cases we're helping, you know, get some podcasts off the ground. Um, and, and look, we've been doing it for a long time.
Dan Weinstein: I mean, you know, Reza essentially, you know, put the infrastructure in place to build the. The podcast, business and studio 71, which is one of their biggest and most profitable businesses, uh, working with some huge talent. Um, and so we're pretty keen on that space. We're keeping an eye on it.
Dan Weinstein: We're starting to execute.
David Tintner: One of the areas I'm most interested in is YouTube, as a podcast player. Um, so I started recently that said that YouTube is actually, uh, in terms of just pure impressions, the most. used player if you will, for podcasts, [00:50:00] which is pretty crazy if you think about it. Cause you know, you mentioned the big names and it's not even, it's not even when you think about, um, in terms of the podcasting world, do you think about YouTube?
Dan Weinstein: Hundred percent it extends the reach of the podcast, right? Um, it's more eyeballs or ears or whatever. However you want to call it, on the content, it's a verifiable, you understand who the audience is? Um, and when we it's monetized.
Dan Weinstein: You know, on YouTube, there's the built-in AdSense revenue, but then there's also the host reads that you can count towards whatever it is that you're you're doing. Um, and so in most of the deals that we've been making for podcasts networks or ad networks or whatever we factor in and as do they, the, the, the reach in the, in the video version of the podcast, you know, on YouTube or other places.
Dan Weinstein: And, and you're seeing Spotify, I think just announced their video podcasts. Um, and I think they're going to compete in that space and, and I think it's just another player and [00:51:00] another opportunity, but yeah, we're, we're certainly seeing the same thing and bullish on it.
David Tintner: Well, this has been awesome.
David Tintner: Uh, the last question I have for you here before we, before we wrap it up is, uh, can you give us maybe some insider knowledge into what's coming out?
Dan Weinstein: Yeah, I think, yeah. I think in the next month or two, we're going to have some really big announcements.
Dan Weinstein: We've got a big partnership, with a company that, that we're going to create a tremendous amount of content over the course of a year on with multiple influencers. Uh, that's going to be really exciting. Like I can't get into any more specifics than that, but that'll be really cool. And then, you know, one of
Dan Weinstein: our larger creators. Um, this kid's channel called Vlada, Nikki, which is, I think you'd like to, you know, and on any given month, the third largest YouTube channel in the world, um, we've got a lot of add ons to the brand that we're, that we're focused on from a long form of content perspective, from an audio perspective, from a licensing perspective, um, there's gonna be a lot of stuff that, that enhances that brand and expands [00:52:00] its footprint that we're, that we're excited about.
Dan Weinstein: Coming up and just lots of other projects we're continuing to grow. We've got so much great talent that are growing and doing innovative things. And, um, we're launching social tokens and, and we were big into gaming and, you know, figuring out the NFT world, it's just, it's all new. It's great.
David Tintner: Very cool.
David Tintner: Well, I'm definitely excited to see what you come up with since, you know, basically at the beginning you've been part of the conversation. You've been making big things happen and I'm sure you will continue to do so. Thank you very much, Dan, for your time. And it was awesome.
Dan Weinstein: Thanks, David. I appreciate it.