After his years as a music industry and tech executive, entrepreneur Jason Swartz has since greatly added to his repertoire. With a long-standing passion for art and architecture that dates back to his childhood, over the last few years the music vet has slowly been making a name for himself among the international art community. Furthermore, Swartz has amassed significant success in the social media and technology sectors, which he has since implemented to his art endeavors, to augment the notoriously low- tech industry.
And as a result of stay-at-home mandates and social distancing in light of the pandemic, introducing new and accommodating tech resources to the art world has been not only beneficial, but also transformative for the seasoned tech and art entrepreneur. Despite the challenges that have come up over the last year, Swartz has managed to find opportunity amid adversity. We recently sat down with Jason and discussed his latest ventures between art, technology and social media.
Q: Despite such a challenging year like 2020, how do you think your passion for collecting art and business of social media tech have been most impacted?
A: The art world has been turned upside down with the end to in-person viewings at fairs, but that said my connection to galleries, artists and curators has grown even stronger. With the newfound comfort of video calls my personal connection to friends in the art world has never been more intimate. Business-wise once again, the current pandemic has accelerated colleagues’ openness to video calls which has allowed for real time, fully transparent business presentation screen shares and a personal touch that could never be conveyed over a call or powerpoint deck.
Q: In many ways, the industries of art and technology could seem conflicting. Being so heavily immersed in both worlds, how do you find a balance?
A: Keeping a balance is never easy, but when it’s all inspiring and exciting it's a pleasure. With the reduction of personal travel, events and entertainment, it’s really given me the extra hours to research new artists, connect with galleries, museums and really dig into the latest tech developments on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
Q: What is the connection between the two, if any? Do you find that art and technology are congruent in any way?
A: I’ve really enjoyed bridging the gap between tech, social media and the art world. The art world has been admittedly slow to recognize the importance of social media, and now with everything online the ability to discover new artists has become a lot more accessible. It’s been a real pleasure assisting galleries, museums and artist friends to better understand the algorithmic nuances of Instagram to help accelerate the attention for their respective galleries, institutions and creative work.
Q: What are you excited about as you continue to expand as an art collector?
A: I spent nearly 15 years representing musicians, and as I get closer to artists and their respective galleries it feels great to help develop and sustain the careers of those artists. Helping leverage their placement in the collections of important institutions, giving advice on personal business decisions or helping raise their notoriety with respected collectors adds quite a bit more time to the passion, but feels exponentially more rewarding and personal than simply collecting their work.
Q: Despite your years in technology, how did you manage to develop a passion for art and how has it informed you as a person?
A: I’ve always had a deep love for live music, architecture and fashion. Be it poster art for concerts, ad campaigns for brands, or the unique buildings in which those moments live, I’ve always found myself wanting to know more about art. With some changes to my own lifestyle, and work over the recent years it afforded me a lot more time to learn, travel, and connect with art in person. It really opened up a world of new annual travel destinations, friends, and most importantly a visual encyclopedia to better recognize, and trace the influences of art in everything I see on a daily basis.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in 2021 pertaining to technology?
A: I’m excited to see how the world’s growing comfort with video conversations develops. I think augmented reality as it relates to the use of celebrity’s image and likeness will be a growing trend. Imagine a facetime where two friends could communicate with each other using the faces of Johnny Depp and Kate Moss as their own on a fantasy video call date.
Q: In this new era of subscription-based content, what was it like to be an instrumental part of the development of a content platform like SoClose?
A: Developing SoClose during the pandemic was really something special. It gave me, and a lot of colleagues in the live music space that I brought in a lot of hope for new opportunities. Being able to monetize celebrity’s followings via exclusive content, without the use of brands or endorsement for their super fans all inside Instagram was a first that had never been done. Now SoClose it’s developing into so much more alongside creating a network poised to motivate positive social change and environmental awareness.
Q: Could you elaborate on your work with SoClose for Instagram Close Friends feature?
A: Over the years I built or assisted with the development of celebrity fan apps. At some point I realized people love Instagram so why draw their fans away from it. In late 2019 I decided to begin developing SoClose, which would keep fans inside IG and allow talent to monetize their fan following via the Instagram Close Friends feature. Along those lines Instagram and other companies create amazing features every year, but often forget to market their amazing developments to their users. I love digging in on the apps store, or into existing apps’ special features that are often overlooked by their users. SoClose is the manifestation of that and a continuation of a journey I’ve been on for 8 years now with Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other social media platforms.
Q: Do you have any plans of merging your experience in technology with your love for art? What is next for you? Any exciting projects?
A: I’m excited to see SoClose for Instagram Close Friends grow globally as well as become an incubator for fresh unique content experiences by some of the top celebrities in the world. SoClose is set to roll out a number of new features for 2021 that will be sure to make the lives of talent all the more exciting for their most dedicated fans. Most of all the positive environmental influence the SoClose network is building is something I’m most excited to activate. To build a financially successful business is one thing, but to have a meaningful positive impact on the world around us is something I’ve always dreamed of contributing.