‘If Drake Goes Independent, the Music Business Is Done,’ Says United Masters’ Steve Stoute

Edna B. Shearer

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Steve Stoute shared some powerful words about Drake during a panel held on Friday (July 17). The two-day virtual SelectCon conference featured conversations with key players in the realms of entrepreneurship, music marketing, sports, personal finance, and other music industry topics.

Stoute is an entrepreneur and author who has previously worked at Sony Music and Interscope Geffen A&M before going on to create his own marketing agency, Translation, and launching music distribution platform United Masters. His resume includes producing albums for Nas, Mariah Carey, working with Gwen Stefani and Enrique Iglesias, and executive producing 2002’s Academy Award-winning “8 Mile” film and soundtrack, starring Eminem.

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One aspect debated throughout the conference: whether to sign with a (major) label or remain independent. While the pros and cons are many, one thing that most can agree on, when an artist is in a position to own his own masters, that’s the most profitable situation for the creator. The topic came up in closing out the two-day confab when Stoute interviewed rapper Russ under the banner “Independence: A Conversation with Steve Stoute + Russ.”

Russ, as Variety reported last week, recently completed his deal at Columbia Records and is celebrating his newfound freedom as an independent artist.

During the panel, Russ laid down the blueprint of what might transpire if Drake, who is signed to Cash Money via Universal Music Group-owned Republic Records, went independent. “You think that if Drake right now, completely independent … if Drake posts a picture on the ‘Gram of his new album, link in bio — f–k a link in bio, “new album out” — and he was fully independent, Drake will make $10 million a week for f–ing 60 weeks.”

Stoute then interjected: “I said this before, Drake is about to come out in the next six months, Drake is about to get the biggest bag in the history of the music business by far. Both A and B, they don’t want that to happen. Because the day that happens, they might as well close the business down.”

Russ made a point to say if Drake should go, “It’ll f–k the whole shit up.”

Stoute seconded: “If Drake goes independent, the music business is over. If Drake goes independent, the music business is done.”

Russ then did the math out loud: “Drake uploads ‘God’s Plan’ on a digital distributor so whatever money it is: less than $10 dollars, right? Fine, pay for the beat — $10K, $20K, $30K, $40k, whatever the f–k it is — and to get mixed: four racks. So you’re all, $50K tops. That song, you owning it forever and getting paid weekly on it, you’re making a million dollars a week off that song. It’s different. If Drake goes independent, this whole industry gets turned upside down. That’s why I’m independent, putting out music independently. I’ma f–k this whole industry up.”

Drake recently dropped two new tracks with DJ Khaled: “POPSTAR” and “Greece.”

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