The Hustle

🎨 Run a museum, make $1m+ per year

Plus: NYPD surveillance drones take off, trending, inside a 15-mile-long cave, and more.

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Spirit Halloween now has its own version of “Monopoly” in which players can buy, sell, and trade properties, including the vacant ones the seasonal Halloween store so frequently overtakes. Unfortunately, the game is currently sold out, but here’s hoping they scare up some more.

In today’s email:

  • Jingle bills: Original ad music is worth the price tag for brands.
  • State of the arts: Institutions in danger, $30 ticket prices, and obscene exec salaries.
  • Digits: Taylor Swift’s box office power, a rare $1k bill, and more newsy numbers.
  • Around the web: Uncomfortable objects, a wild cave expedition, lazy skateboarding, and more.

👇 Listen: Dream-haunting ad jingles and an updated Tesla.


Not your mom’s jingles: Ad music is getting an upgrade

Music production studio Heavy Duty Projects brings original compositions to branding.
Sara Friedman

Have you ever found yourself getting misty eyed during a Gatorade commercial?

It’s not just a you problem (though your boss was extra mean that day).

Heavy Duty Projects is working behind the scenes to create ad music that pulls on consumer heartstrings.

The LA-based production company works with brands, ad agencies, and media companies on:

  • Music supervision: providing expertise, sourcing songs, and guiding brands through the selection process.
  • Original compositions: recording custom music around a brand’s needs.
  • Artist collaborations: handling collaborations and negotiations between clients and talent.
  • Covers and remixes: post-production services like sound design, mixing, and audio finishing.

Heavy Duty Projects works with its roster of artists and composers to take a client’s vision from initial concept to final product using demo tapes and rounds of revisions.

Brands like 7-Eleven, Sweetgreen, Nike, and Apple have tapped the studio for projects ranging from TV ads and shows to video game scores.

Brands are turning up the volume

Sound can be a powerful tool for getting customers to buy things, but it can get pricey.

The most affordable route for brands is stock music, followed by custom audio, with licensing from major artists as the big-ticket option.

But, for many brands, the right music is worth it.

“Every creative wants the music to support the story in the best way possible,” the company’s co-founder Kate Urcioli tells The Hustle. “A lot of times, custom music is the only way to do that.”

High costs have pushed some brands to look for other avenues: Coca-Cola launched Coke Studio, an in-house music shop, to create its own original music.

And on TikTok: Brands can work with vetted sound partners (like Heavy Duty Projects) to create original audio for use in campaigns on the platform.

For now, we’ll just be over here playing this Carl’s Jr. banger on repeat.


These are some dark times in the NFT business — monthly trading volume dropped 81% and sales dropped 61% between January 2022 and July 2023, per Bloomberg. Some top NFTs, like Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, sit at two-year lows. Perhaps most worrisome of all: The “NFTs are the next big thing” bros we know just seem sad lately.


Mud slide: Rain and mud trapped 70k+ Burning Man festivalgoers in the Nevada desert over the weekend. The event was scheduled to end yesterday but organizers won’t be able to clear everyone from the grounds until today at the earliest.

Jobs report: Employers added 187k jobs in August, beating expectations, and unemployment rose to 3.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers reflect an economy cooling from a post-pandemic boom.

For the first time, the federal government will regulate staffing levels at nursing homes under a new Biden administration policy. The proposal means an estimated 75% of nursing homes would need to up staffing.

Bumble is tackling IRL no-shows with its latest policy update. Though challenging to enforce, the dating app will now classify standing someone up offline as bullying in its online community standards.

On “Duty”: An AI moderation tool will monitor gamers’ voice chats for abusive behavior as they play November’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.” Programmed to flag hate speech, harassment, and more, the AI can’t ban players outright; it’ll refer cases to humans for disciplinary action.

Tesla unveiled updates to its most affordable vehicle, Model 3, including design tweaks, a rear touch screen, range improvements, and a price hike. For now, it’s rolling out only in Europe and the Middle East.

Disney blocked ~15m Spectrum subscribers from accessing its channels in a fight over carriage fees. This means viewers in markets like New York and Los Angeles can’t access ABC, FX, Nat Geo, and — importantly during the US Open — ESPN.

How commercial real estate’s doing in one sentence: 7 Post Office Square in Boston’s Financial District changed hands in a $41m deal last week, marking the first time in 18 months someone bought a major office building in the city.

Five-year plan: We’re sensing you don’t have one… or it’s a bit outdated. Use this template to make a little road map for your future.


Still unsure what artificial intelligence can do for you? We’re sharing seven ways you can use AI to supercharge your business strategy.

Olivia Heller

Some art institutions are dying while others are dishing out $1m+ salaries

Small, local art organizations are imperiled as household names like MoMa pile riches on their execs.
Ben Berkley

Welcome to society’s latest episode of “The Haves and the Have-Nots.” Today, the gulf is rapidly widening between top-tier museums, theater groups, and orchestras and their less-affluent community peers.

  • Kicking ass: America’s most influential big-city arts organizations, where top executives are drawing seven-figure salaries.
  • Kicking rocks: Smaller museums, nonprofit theater groups, and local orchestras, many of which are facing steep deficits.

Let’s talk about the sad one first

This decade has packed a dangerous cocktail for localized cultural institutions, between a slow pandemic recovery, steep inflation, and labor shortages. Now, many are in peril:

  • This summer has seen cost-cutting measures at nonprofit stage companies around the US, per The Hollywood Reporter — from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
  • Some mid-size museums, like Iowa’s National Motorcycle Museum and Virginia’s AAF Tank Museum, are closing their doors for good.
  • Labor issues may slow the Philadelphia Orchestra, while others, like the New Jersey Symphony, cut back on staff and programming.

On the other side of the coin…

Though not immune to inflation and post-pandemic visitor slumps, brand-name arts organizations feel the strain without the same sense of immediate danger.

  • One thing helping: a greater ability to pass rising costs along to patrons. New York’s Guggenheim Museum raised ticket prices to an all-time high of $30, while the Art Institute of Chicago charges $32 for admission.

Another sign that things aren’t so dire can be found in the corner office — The New York Times identified 29 art bosses, from NYC’s Lincoln Center to LA’s Getty Museum, taking home $500k+ salaries. Those jobs are also often accentuated with housing allowances and first-class travel perks.

Oh, to be a “have”: The director of NYC’s MoMa tops the list with a $2m annual salary — not counting a rent-free apartment above the museum.

Free Resource

How AI is transforming product development

With AI, making a product and taking it to market doesn’t need to take months (or years). Developers are using the latest tech to quickly spot patterns, build prototypes, and improve user experience.

AWS senior startup advisor Deepam Mishra says you better get your feet wet — because AI will redefine how the world uses software.

Call AI your copilot:

  • Five predictions for product development
  • Reimagining UX with AI as a focal point
  • Three tips for integrating AI into your business

If you build anything great, remember to take all of the credit — even if you just asked a sentient web app.

Read on the blog →

When $1k is worth $250k, police surveillance drones, and more newsy numbers

New kids’ shoes, party-monitoring drones, a rare bill, and more numbers from around the web.
Ben Berkley

$250k+: The price a very rare $1k bill may fetch at auction this month. The Federal Reserve Note from 1918 features Alexander Hamilton on its front. In 1928, Grover Cleveland’s portrait replaced Hamilton’s, and in 1969, the $1k bill was discontinued along with the $500, $5k, and $10k bills.

$500k: Latest funding round for Jbrds, a footwear brand that offers anatomically designed shoes for children. Its first product, for 9- to 18-month-olds, looks kinda like Velcro-strapped Crocs with socks. The company will focus next on releasing shoes designed for the developmental needs of kids up to 8 years old.

1.4k+: The number of US police departments now using surveillance drones. In NYC, police deployed drones over Labor Day weekend to monitor unruly parties, drawing backlash from privacy advocates. The city said it was just utilizing its assets. Coming into the weekend, NYPD had used its drones 124x in 2023, up from just 4x last year.

$26m: AMC’s new record for single-day ticket sales, brought about by — Who else? — Taylor Swift, less than three hours after tickets for her Eras Tour concert film went on sale. The previous record holder was Spider-Man: No Way Home, earning $16.9m.


📺 On this day: In 2006, Katie Couric became the first woman to solo anchor a weekday evening newscast, “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.”

🔎 That’s interesting: A book claims 100k people in Japan voluntarily disappear every year. But do they?

🤯 Video: Inside a 15-mile-long cave.

😕 Haha: A collection of objects intentionally designed to be uncomfortable.

🛹 Aww: TFW you’re too lazy to skateboard yourself.


And if you blow into the USB port, everyone within earshot will hear its call and know that it’s time for synergy. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Juliet Bennett Rylah and Sara Friedman.
Editing by: Ben “Help, all my internal thoughts are to the tune of the Kars4Kids jingle” Berkley.Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.
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