Artists and writers are known to have gone to great lengths to spark their creativity, but what if activating your imagination was as easy as hanging your keys? This is the hope behind Dan Jacobs’ Jack Racks, a key rack designed like an amp that you can literally plug your keys into.
“Every time you walk in and out of your house, you gotta plug in a little amp,” explains the Atreyu guitarist and businessman. “It kind of keeps your mind always thinking about music.” By turning this practical item into a useful wall decoration for the rock ’n’ roll enthusiast, Jacobs hopes to help inspire people to play music every day.
Jacobs developed the product with his brother, Joe, and their partner Mike Strickland, who initially laid the groundwork for the idea. The three began working together about two years ago, and like many endeavors nowadays, it started with a crowdfunding campaign.
“$2,000 was our goal, and after a month we ended up at almost $11,000,” Jacobs says. “So we were like, ‘Oh, shit! That went way better than expected, so I think we really have something here!’”
The team then took to Reddit to see how the internet would react to a more progressive version of their idea, and to their surprise, Jack Racks went viral within 24 hours. “It went nuts,” Jacobs says, still somewhat in disbelief. “In 24 hours we had people calling us from all over the world, emails coming in from all these companies and distributors—everybody trying to get their hands on this thing. We were like, ‘What the hell?’”
Boasting the slogan “Hang your keys like a rockstar,” the product has started to move beyond their basic models and toward customized orders for big-name bands. Of course, Jacobs’s own band Atreyu has started using the product as a promotional tool, but so have bands like Beartooth, Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men and Sleeping With Sirens.
“When we do this stuff, we get to create a different look for each one. We’ll make [bands] custom ones that are developed around their vibe and their actual amps that they might use on stage, or logos that they’re using at the time, or for an album they’re pushing.” If you have a band, you can look into coming up with your own line with the company. The team currently has distribution set up across the U.S. as well as Europe, Australia, Mexico, China, Taiwan, Japan, Israel and more. The Pluginz company, which sells Jack Racks, also sells a similar line of keychains, necklaces and other promotional items for bands.
It’s become old hat to him now, but at first Jacobs had no idea what he was doing or how to start a business. “It was interesting for me because the only business I really knew was just doing my band,” he says. “A lot of that business is, to an extent, handled by your manager or your booking agent or your record label. But doing something on my own, with my brother in particular, you learn a lot more about who you are as a person.”
Jacobs and his brother started their first venture together back in 2007—a clothing line now called Rock World Merch that still partners with companies such a Rockstar Energy Drink, Monster Energy Drink and Jägermeister. “It’s always tough starting a new business,” he admits, “but you learn—a lot of times the hard way—as you go. A lot of our business was built on just never saying no. As far as my merch company, we’ve been doing that for a long time and worked with a lot of really big accounts because we just never said no. Whatever it is that you want us to do, we’ll make it happen. Every time you say yes and you go out and you figure it out and you deliver, that’s one more thing in your arsenal of things you can do now.”
Fans need not fear: Jacobs is still playing music with Atreyu now that the band has returned. However, “guitarist” is only one of the many words you can use to describe him now. Head over to the Pluginz website to see which Jack Racks model will work best in your house! You can also buy pick them up at Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend!