Steve Stoute is reputed for managing artists like NAS, Will Smith, and Mary J. Blige at the beginning of his career – in the 1990s. However, despite building a reputation for his close association with stars, he did not consider it a legacy worth leaving on the shelves. He aimed beyond basking in the notion that he managed hip-hop’s biggest acts in an era when the genre was gaining global acceptance.
He was able to achieve this ambition when the newsreel was inundated with his success after raising $70 million from Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz, 20th Century Fox, and Floodgate to set up a music platform, according to Boardroom. United Masters is a platform that enables artists to monetize their content by distributing their music across all streaming platforms.
Steve’s journey to making a break as a music industry innovator started after he resigned from Interscope Geffen A&M Records in 2004, as well as his role in managing artists – a decision that was synonymous with his early life. He adopted the spirit of entrepreneurship from his mother; this manifested in the decisions he made when he was passionate about a cause.
He attended five colleges in two years, but dropped out because he didn’t find the purpose he sought. He aspired to merge the promotion of artists with the marketing of content they produced; however, Interscope Records never bought into it.
He felt he was better positioned to handle this role than ad agencies, who were making more money off his artists. Despite the odds, Steve proceeded to start his ad agency and named it Translation – to transport his ideas to the world, according to Black People Things.
The dividends of his decision paid off when Pusha T wrote the jingle for McDonald’s “I’m Loving It,” as well as Jay-Z’s HP ad spot and his Budweiser ad campaign. Steve’s agency also had Jadakiss and Allen Iverson do an ad spot for Reebok, and was behind Google’s history of hip hop doodle.
When Translation took shape and could operate on its own without his direct involvement, Steve appointed a new CEO to handle the management of the ad agency to enable him to pursue the operation of a media and analytics business.
He founded United Masters in 2017 with an aim to help artists translate their creative work into an additional revenue stream for them. As part of this arrangement, he provided artists with the opportunity to harvest data surrounding their work and connect directly with their fans.
This pitch enabled Steve to raise $70 million in a series A led by Google’s corporate umbrella, Alphabet, as well as other investors. United Masters comprises musicians, marketers, engineers, and storytellers with in-depth knowledge of YouTube, sound cloud, and Facebook, among other social media handles, according to United Masters.
The company has entered into revolutionary partnerships with Justin Timberlake, McDonald’s, and Jay-Z, and has managed to build events around artists-driven properties like the Defiant Ones.
United Masters is home to 1.3 million independent artists – with revenue from indie labels and artists, increasing by 27 percent in 2020. The platform was able to reach a $550 million valuation through its series C funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz.