“Take time to appreciate what you have and those around you - It’s easy to be consumed by the work and routine. Amazing things are available to us and are happening every day all around us. Being able to recognize these and to pay homage to those around us that make our lives better or easier is something I try to do as often as I can. “
I had the pleasure to interview Steve Stewart, the Co-Founder of Vezt. Steve Stewart has more than 25 years of professional experience in the music and new media industries. As CEO of Steve Stewart Management, he negotiated and secured lucrative major label record and publishing contracts on behalf of approximately 20 recording artists with companies such as Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Records, Capitol Records, Disney’s Hollywood Records, A&M Records, Geffen Records, Elektra Records, American Records, Maverick Records, EMI Music Publishing, Famous Music Publishing, Rondor Music, Warner Chappell Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing. Steve is the former personal manager of Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum alternative rock band Stone Temple Pilots, managing their career from their inception through their fifth major label release on Atlantic Records. Under Steve’s management, the band’s worldwide record sales exceeded 25 million records, generating more than $500 million in gross revenues. He has held Co-Founder and COO titles at business marketing aggregator, GoYodel, and sports social video app, SportsBuddyz, and helped establish crowdcasting startup, SURKUS, as their Head of Business Development, securing long-term corporate clients such as Live Nation. Steve has BA in Political Science from UCLA.
What is your "backstory"?
I managed Grammy-winning Stone Temple Pilots from their inception in 1990 - 2000, making 5 multi-Platinum records with them and managing another 20 artists signed to every major label and publishing company. I got into the tech space when the music industry was impacted by the advent of Napster in the early 2000’s.
We created Vezt because we saw that the front end of the music industry was left behind. While there are plenty of distribution and production platforms (iTunes, Spotify, ProTools, Logic, etc.), there is no one working on how artists can put food on the table as a direct result of their work. We wanted to give artists an immediate and direct way to financially benefit from the fruits of their labor, to put them in control of their destiny at little or no cost to them. Prolific artists with sizable fan bases can monetize their songs directly through Vezt and see an immediate income stream. Established artists with huge followings may have a stable income, but might be unable to tour or secure a record label deal. Vezt allows them to offer a fraction of a song in their catalog to their fans and other investors for immediate revenue. Artists with favorite causes can empower their fan bases to buy a fraction of a new or catalog song and contribute to charity without reaching into their own wallets. Vezt allows the unsung heroes of the music business - producers, engineers, co-writers, lyricists, and others to monetize their rights in some of the most popular songs, quickly and easily. While the lead singers and celebrity artists have the spotlight and can pick up live performance or product endorsement income, some of the people behind the scenes work in obscurity and have little opportunity to boost revenues from their ownership interests. Vezt uses blockchain technology to create smart contracts that carry rights ownership and royalty information on the platform. We’re working with existing performing rights organizations around the world, as well as forward looking digital collection platforms like STEM.is to collect royalties in as efficient a manner as possible, in an attempt to eventually provide artists and rights holders with real time tracking and collections of their royalties. Vezt has acquired rights to songs recorded by Jay-Z, Drake, Kanye West, John Legend, and others, and will be announcing more songs and partnerships in the near future.
Which person or which company do you most admire and why?
I really admire Elon Musk for two reasons: He thinks big, and he executes. That combination is rare and exemplifies what anyone can do if they apply themselves to game-changing ideas. He’s willing to take risks others avoid, and to build toward the future with high-quality products and efficiencies rarely seen in the large-scale projects he’s involved with.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I really believe in the healing power of music. I’ve had the opportunity to read hundred of letters to artists I’ve helped achieve some level of success, that communicated how a single song or lyric has helped someone overcome something in their life, or feel like they’ve had someone by their side as they’ve had to deal with hard times. Although I don’t write or perform the songs, I feel that by giving artists the ability to create their art on a global scale, I've contributed in a small way to the emotional well-being of others.
What are your "5 things I wish someone told me when I first started" and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) Time is the most precious commodity - When you’re young, you think the day goes on forever. The older you get, the faster the day goes by. Time management skills are very important.
2) Take time to appreciate what you have and those around you - It’s easy to be consumed by the work and routine. Amazing things are available to us and are happening every day all around us. Being able to recognize these and to pay homage to those around us that make our lives better or easier is something I try to do as often as I can.
3) Pick your partners for the long term. I’m very fortunate to be working with an amazing partner, Robert Menendez in building Vezt. He’s tenacious, driven and so amazing with people. We think along the same lines, and complement each other in our skill sets and abilities. It’s a pleasure to work with him, and makes it exciting to build a game-changing platform with someone you trust and admire.
4) Think more about the person than the job. Many people hire based on heavy resumes instead of personal traits. I’ve found that good people can do almost anything, and will learn and adapt into multiple situations. People really make the company - the better your team, the better the product.
5) You don’t have to be a super-star. If you do good work consistently, you’ll be ahead of 90% of your competition. Many people are not good for their word. Many don’t show up, or don’t deliver their best work. Don’t worry about being a genius. If you put your heart into your work and continue to fight forward everyday, you’ll succeed.