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As founder and CEO of marketing agency Translation, Steve Stoute brings a record executive’s perspective to such client brands as Hewlett Packard, State Farm, McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch. With a C-suite history at Interscope Records and Sony Music, he tells iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman in the latest “Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing” podcast, “The thing that was most appalling to me was 18-24 Black, 18-24 White, 18-24 Hispanic. These things don’t even mean anything. They are a fake segmentation.”

With a nod to Pittman’s own career legacy, Stoute adds, “These media metrics may have been created at a time when I guess it mattered. But it really didn’t matter at the time when MTV came around. It made no sense.”

Instead, he says, “music moves culture,” which in fact, is the entrepreneur’s mantra. Reflecting on his years as President of Urban Music and Executive VP for Interscope—and before that, President of Urban Music for Sony Music Entertainment, and the manager of acts Nas and Mary J. Blige—he explains, “Culture really is the set of rules by which a group of people live by, and music has always been one of the greatest indicators of where the world is moving.” He says that by listening to lyrics, subject matter, the perspective of a song and artist, “it tells you a lot. When I got into the marketing business, I wanted to use that line around music and the culture as an indicator to remove models of segmentation.”

Stoute adds, “I always felt like music proved that model.” For instance, he explains, “The Bangles didn’t have to be classified as either black or white music (and) AM would play everything; Otis Redding and then Karen Carpenter right afterward. It didn’t matter.” With the popularity of FM, segmentation took over. Pittman filled in the blank: “narrowcasting.”

Stoute adds, “I think that narrowcasting has done a lot to affect media… about how you put people into boxes.”

It is this knowledge of music and media that he took to the advertising business. “That’s why I called the company ‘Translation.’ Translate the value of what I see in culture. I started with an office, two assistants and a fish tank.”

Today, Stoute is regarded as an innovator in the industry. In 2013, he was named "Executive of the Year" by Ad Age; while Fast Company included Stoute in its list of the "Most Creative People in Business." He is also author of “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.”

In 2017, Stoute received $70 million from investors Alphabet Inc. and Andreessen Horowitz to launch UnitedMasters. He tells Pittman that it is meant to represent the future of the music industry. “This is a whole new way of thinking about artists. I think the future of music is artists going directly into DIY work,” he says. “Look at the amount of songs going up on Spotify and Apple every single day. They’re not coming from major labels. UnitedMasters offers them the opportunity to do that at scale.”