Interview: Steve Stoute Talks About Working With Jay-Z, Nas, and "The Tanning of America"

Interview: Steve Stoute Talks About Working With Jay-Z, Nas, and "The Tanning of America"Interview by Toshitaka Kondo. Photography by Tom Medvedich. Styling by Mike B.

What are some of the blogs that you visit?

I think YBF is great, I think Necole Bitchie is great. NahRight. I think, WorldStarHipHop is great. WorldStar is like the TMZ of the hood. But I’m not running around all day chasing sites, it’s just too much.

You mentioned that you feel the music industry has hit the reset button. Why do you feel it’s finally hit rock bottom?

 

The truth of the matter is that there was a lot of people in the business that weren’t talented that was getting paid a lot of money and just being around. I think it’s now hit the reset button, and you look at the people that are still in the business and surviving, those are the same people that were surviving anyway.

 

I feel like it’s hit the reset button because the business had swollen. After coming out of vinyl and then to CDs, people were buying inventory again, buying their catalogs on CDs and it had this big mushroom because it was just a bunch of money coming into the business of people buying CD players and buying to the new format.

As a result of that, music videos went up, executive salaries went up. So the business had this artificial business model that wasn’t necessarily real. When the digital download age came in, it started to erode that mushroom and the business suffered a big slide.

But the truth of the matter is that there was a lot of people in the business that weren’t talented at the time, that was getting paid a lot of money and just being around. I think it’s now hit the reset button, and you look at the people that are still in the business and surviving, those are the same people that were surviving anyway.

Doug Morris is still there, Jimmy Iovine is still there, Lyor Cohen is still there, Jay-Z is still there. The players are still the players. It just hit the reset button so that people who were talented stayed in their position and stayed with what was going on. The great executives still know how to spot real talent.

I think that now, you’re going to see digital downloads rise again, for the first time in years, after a seven-year slide. And I just think that the business has finally found the model that works to be financially successful.

Which is what? I thought you were going to talk about the cloud...

I mean, whatever it is. They have found the model to operate the business, to pay the talent, in order to make money. When the digital download era hit, there was so many people getting paid and so many people making money in long-term contracts that the erosion of CD sales affected the business model. I think that the business model now is in sync with the revenue that comes in.

People are always saying that music like Wu-Tang or Mobb Deep couldn’t be commercially successful today because music today is “soft” or it’s “hipster.” Do you think that something like that could work today?

I think that everything runs in cycles, and yes. I don’t think Jay did anything wrong in the last album, his last album is incredible. So that means what? You can write great songs, great lyrics, and still have the core ethics of hip-hop values while staying commercially viable.

The problem is that the talent is taking the easy way out and not putting the work in to do that. Cause it’s too easy to get onto radio not doing that. A lot of artists are tempted or coming up with the art form that way. Not understanding the art form via mixtapes, trying to get your record on late at night, trying to get it in the clubs first.

It’s a different era.

Tags: steve-stoute, jay-z, nas, kobe-bryant, 50-cent, t-i, justin-timberlake
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