Steve Stoute’s Bold Leap From High-Paying Music Executive To Leading His Own Companies

Steve Stoute forged his own lane in the music industry, rising to the cream of the crop.

As AFROTECH™ previously reported, Stoute worked as a former Sony Music Entertainment executive serving as its president for urban music between 1990 and 1999. He worked alongside some of today’s industry giants including Mariah Carey, Will Smith, and Nas.

However, Stoute would soon be convinced to venture further into the industry covering his own terrain when working on the “Men In Black” soundtrack with actor and rapper Will Smith. He was there when Smith’s single from the movie skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won the star a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1997, according to Pop Sugar. At that time, Stoute also learned of the amount of dollars that existed in advertising when he found out a small agency representing Ray Ban sunglasses profited from increased sales of the shades after Smith wore them in a well-known scene of the movie. 

After Stoute had transitioned to Interscope Geffen A&M as president of its urban music division and executive vice president, he decided to bow out from his $2.5 million salary role pursue advertising. In fact, he went to work with the agency that had benefited from those Ray Bans in “Men In Black.” Upon joining the agency, Stoute was offered a 25% stake in the company and a $150,000 salary, and he accepted.

“If the music could sell all these glasses, imagine what I could do if I left the music business and focused on the product,” he mentioned on “Club Shay Shay.”

The agency was sold two years later for $190 million, and Stoute saw significant earnings he says. By 2004, he became founder and CEO of Translation, described as a platform leveraging culture, technology, and storytelling to help brands scale, its website mentions. It has worked with companies including the NBA, Beats by Dre, AT&T, Apple, and HBO, among others.

Stoute also leads UnitedMasters, a record company that caters to independent artists and provides them with partnerships, premium music distribution services, and resources to strengthen their connection and fans.

As AFROTECH™ previously mentioned, it launched Beats Exchange, a marketplace to buy and sell beats, through a partnership with Grammy-award-winning producer Hit-Boy in 2022.

AFROTECH™ Future 50

We are delighted to recognize Stoute among the AFROTECH™ Future 50 for being a Visionary Founder. 

AFROTECH™ Future 50 honors Dynamic Investors, Future Makers, Corporate Catalysts, Changemakers, and Visionary Founders like Stoute, who are actively shaping the future.

To check out the full list, click here.

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