Ira Belsky is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Artlist, a leading creative technology company with products that provide content creators with editing software tools and over 880K digital assets. A self-taught filmmaker with a lifelong passion for creating beautiful and stimulating visuals, Ira brings both creative instincts and business savvy to Artlist, now a leader in the creative stock licensing industry.
Where did the idea for Artlist come from?
The company was founded in 2016 in Kibbutz Afikim in northern Israel by four friends: Itzik Elbaz (web developer at Mellanox and co-CEO at Artlist today) together with two music producers – Assaf Ayalon and Eyal Raz (CCO at Artlist today), and I, who was a freelance video creator (and co-CEO at Artlist today). Before Artlist’s foundation, licensing music for videos was on a pay-per-song model, which most indie filmmakers found out of their reach. Among those filmmakers was Artlist founder Ira Belsky. Along with Itzik, Eyal, and Assaf, he decided to combine the growing need for royalty-free music for videos with the successful subscription-based model of companies like Adobe and Spotify. As filmmakers, they saw a gap in the film industry between the low-quality stock music made solely for making money and the high-quality music that comes at a premium.
Since then, Artlist has become a leading creative technology company offering content creators powerful video and image editing software with over 880,000 professional digital assets under a revolutionary, global license that covers every project worldwide. In its mission to empower people to tell stories through video, Artlist offers four products: Artlist.io, a royalty-free music and SFX platform; Artgrid.io, a curated stock footage platform; MotionArray.com, an all-in-one marketplace for creators including video templates, presets, music, SFX, stock footage, motion graphics and stock photos; and FXhome, a cutting-edge video, VFX and image editing software.
Artlist works with an ever-expanding team of creative contributors across the globe, updating its catalogs daily with fresh content while preserving a consistently high level of quality across its media and platforms. Since its founding in 2016, Artlist has revolutionized the industry by offering subscription-based products under an unmatched license and is becoming the ultimate 360-degree solution for content creators. Recognized as a top startup by LinkedIn and WIRED, Artlist counts Google, Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola, Ikea, Mercedes, Samsung, Wix, Netflix, Dior and many more among its 16 million clients.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Most of my day consists of meeting people, whether planned in meeting rooms or casual in the hallways or at coffee breaks. I am a true believer in making direct and personal contact with our employees, and I try to make everyone I talk to feel like they are valuable to the company and that their opinion matters. And with a toddler and a newborn at home, I also try to maintain a healthy work-life balance, keeping in mind that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The most important thing is building around you a solid team of skilled professionals who complement one another, speak a common and impactful language and come up with ideas and ways to improve ideas from their own angle. The next thing is to set organizational processes that turn strategy into execution to make ideas a reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m fascinated by the content democratization trend; seeing millions of creators open new worlds of ideas, content, stories. This trend continuously spawns new forms of content previously unseen.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I believe in recognizing your strengths, focusing on them, and limiting the energy spent on aspects you are less knowledgeable in while also knowing the daily capacity you can produce. Another important habit is separating work and leisure, because it makes me more productive in the long run. After all, we are not dealing with saving lives, and nobody will die if we finish tomorrow what we started today.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Remember that things take time, and success is not the same as winning the lottery – it doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient and know that things have their own pace of evolution, so give them time to develop.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
My unpopular opinion is that the next generation will be better than us. Everyone thinks that young people are glued to their phones all the time and are less invested in their education and intellectual growth, but I think that’s not true.
When young people today aspire to become YouTubers or content creators, it shows they want to be creative, to create their own content, and to be competitive and innovative. There is no significant difference between those who want to become famous today and those who wanted to become actors and musicians when I was younger.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Don’t settle for explaining only what your idea is; always try to describe the reasoning behind it. People who understand the rationale behind what they’re doing tend to work better and contribute more than those who only know what and how to do it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Focus on your users and always think about how to improve the product for them. I identify with our users because I came from where they are now, so I always try to think from their perspective detached from my role as Co-CEO. That’s why I find an advantage when someone tries to solve a pain point they experience themselves.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It was important to us, as a company, to grow relatively equally across all our branches. We didn’t want to concentrate our efforts solely on the country’s center; we wanted to grow in the less developed areas, too. Recruiting workers in developing regions has been a constant struggle, and we are trying many different ways to increase our workforce and talent there. And while we are making progress in that area, it’s something we will continue to work on for the foreseeable future.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
At the moment, I have my hands full developing the Artlist products, thinking how to add more and more value to our users and improve their experience. The various initiatives I am overseeing and the different directions I am exploring relate exclusively to Artlist, so I don’t have time to think about other business ideas 🙂
And if I hadn’t founded Artlist, there’s a good chance I would have turned to fields other than entrepreneurship and innovation, since I’m interested in many different things.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
While it cost less than $100, my wife and I bought costumes for our kids for Purim (sort of the Jewish Halloween), and seeing my daughter walking around as Ariel from The Little Mermaid with such a big smile on her face was worth every cent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
TikTok – Despite what everyone thinks and says about this app, it helps me clear my mind at the end of the day, and through it, I get to know and feel our user community on a deeper level.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m more of a visual person, and I consume most of my content in video form, so I’d like to recommend an excellent TED talk I saw recently by Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician, epidemiologist, and statistics expert who served as a Public Health Science professor at the Karolinska Institute – one of the best medical schools in the world.
He talked about all kinds of misconceptions we have about the world and showed how we are highly likely to be wrong about what we think we know:
Another recommendation is a video creator and YouTuber I admire who creates enriching, educational and thought-provoking content. It’s an excellent example of what I said about the younger generation.
Vsauce is delivering meaningful content through video directly to the whole world.
And in the video below, he talks about why every generation fears its successor and shows that, in actuality, generations improve over time, and that fear stems from our suspiciousness of things that are new: https://youtu.be/LD0x7ho_IYc
What is your favorite quote?
“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter”
(The first known instance was a sentence translated from a text written by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal).
The main idea behind this quote is that although being concise sounds easier and simpler than being verbose, it requires harder work, and I relate to that.
- Surround yourself with good, talented people from different fields who complement one another to form a strong team that will contribute to maximal business and personal growth.
- Don’t assume you know best about everything. Be open to listening to different opinions, challenge your conceptions and the status quo and turn to exciting new ventures.
- Always reflect on the logic behind your thoughts and actions. It will allow you to understand better why you are doing things and help rally people to act towards a common goal.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.