Business mogul Steve Stoute is aiming to shake up the music business, with his new company UnitedMasters.
Steve Stoute has been a dominant presence in hip-hop for over thirty years.
He has managed artists like Nas and Mary J. Blige.
Steve Stoute has also served has had of Urban Music at Interscope Geffen A&M Records, and he oversaw the Urban Music for Sony Music Entertainment, before starting his award-winning company, Translation Marketing.
Over at Translation, Steve Stoute has continued to push hip-hop culture higher up the corporate ladder, by striking deals with huge companies like McDonald’s, Budweiser, Reebok, and Hewlett-Packard.
So when Steve Stoute saw a white space in the music industry, he decided to hit up his billionaire buddy, Ben Horowitz.
Ben Horowitz is a co-founder of the legendary firm Andreessen Horowitz and is also a billionaire investor, who happens to be a superfan of Nas.
Horowitz is also one of the backers who plunked $70 million dollars into UnitedMasters
In addition to UnitedMasters, Ben is one of the major backers grooming company Bevel and the hip-hop lyrics website Genius.
Ben recently explained his decision-making process when he decided to work with Steve Stoute and the key factors in his decision-making process to help raise such an insane amount of money for UnitedMasteres.
1. Solve A Problem
In this new digital era of social media, streaming, podcasting and such, figuring out who the fans are has become a huge challenge for independent acts. Companies like Spotify and Facebook offer up some data they have collected to musicians, but it really amounts to artists’ hard-earned valuable info about their fans being owned by those same companies, instead of the reverse.
This is where UnitedMasters saw a white space and an opportunity to solve a problem since data is “the new oil.”
“In a world where leading-edge companies like Facebook and Google knew every detail of their customers, right down to what they read in the last five minutes, even the biggest stars in the world knew embarrassingly little about their fans,” explained Ben Horowitz. “In fact, most artists didn’t even know their fans’ names.”
2. Find the Right Partners
After Steve Stoute figured out the concept for UnitedMasters, he realized he had deep expertise in business, music and advertising, yet he was in need of a real expert for the technology space if he really wanted to take on the major labels.
Since Steve Stoute’s contacts are deeper than the Mariana Trench, he decided to reach out to Ben Horowitz, because of the billionaire’s expertise in the technology space, which has made him so rich.
Ben Horowitz has guided the success of companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, to name a few.
“To build such a platform, the company had to be world class in three distinctly different disciplines: music, advertising, and technology. Steve already had the expertise in music and advertising, but technology was the key and that’s when he called me.” – Ben Horowitz
3. Develop A Strong Team
Teamwork is something Steve Stoute is well versed in. He’s helped build businesses and careers for Jay-Z, Nas, and Will Smith. More recently Steve has taken on active roles to help guide the success of the website Genius as well, which snagged $56 million dollars in investments from Ben Horowitz and Andreessen Horowitz, amongst others.
Steve Stoute also has an investment in Nas’ Mass Appeal brand, which recently raised $ 6 million dollars in funding and launched a dope new recording studio.
In each one of these businesses, helping develop out a strong business strategy and team is key to brands’ success.
Over at UnitedMasters, Ben Horowitz and Steve Stoute are working to do the same thing with the $70 million dollars they’ve raised.
“Together, we recruited a phenomenal technology team with members from distinguished companies such as Facebook, Dropbox, and Pandora,” Ben Horowitz explained. “I think that the UnitedMasters engineering team is one of the best in the technology industry, but you can judge for yourself.”