#MadeInAmerica: Translation's Steve Stoute Talks Diversity, Honesty, and The Digital Revolution

photos by Marco Torres

This Labor Day holiday weekend in Philadelphia, Jay-Z is teaming up with Budweiser and Live Nation to curate the initial and inaugural Made In America Music Festival, a two-day, multi-genre event featuring acts such as Pearl Jam, Skrillex, Santigold, and Gary Clark Jr, and features the return of D'Angelo and Run DMC.

Organizers expect about 50,000 ticketed spectators to walk through the gates each day, and millions to tune into the Pandora and YouTube livestream broadcasts.

In anticipation of the festival, Rocks Off spoke with author and advertising executive Steve Stoute, who along with Jay-Z serves as co-chairman of Translation Advertising, which specializes in helping marketers reach consumers in the multicultural market.

Translation was awarded the account to market and promote the Made In America festival, and plays an integral role in channelling Jay-Z and Budweiser's vision of a successful music and cultural event into reality.

Rocks Off: Thank you so much for speaking with us, sir. In the song "Made In America" from the Watch The Throne album, Kanye ends his verse by rapping the following:

This ain't no fashion show muthafucka, we live it!

That concept of being real and honest... is that what is at the core of Translation's partnerships with brands such as Budweiser and Chevrolet, etc.?

Steve Stoute: What's funny is that the name of the festival didn't originate from that song as many people tend to think. Budweiser actually owns the trademark to the term "Made In America", which is crazy. So they along with Jay decided that the name could work for us. As far as that Kanye line, yes... that also works. What we at Translation try to do is make sure brands are not visiting culture, but rather living culture. That goes for life as well, don't go around trying to be cool just for the photo op or whatever, its your life. Make it rich and full, always.

RO: Where did the idea for the Made In America festival originate, and why go through the headache of putting on a major music festival?

SS: As leaders of culture, both Budweiser and Jay-Z saw an opportunity to create an event in order to celebrate the diversity that is found in America. That's why the line-up is so diverse. We didn't want to just feature hip-hop acts or rock artists, we want to attract fans from all walks of life. Genres are irrelevant. Genres are created by the media and record companies. The only thing we care about is good music. If you put on a festival full of good music, people will find you.

RO: What advice can you offer to upstart artists and other young people so that they, too, can get "Made In America"?

SS: Always be honest. Honesty always wins. You and your ideas might not be popular with the masses at first, but the few who do accept what you have to say, those people will help you turn the tide in the long run. Look at Nas or Jay's first albums, they were not especially well received at first. They were being outsold by Coolio or whatever. But they spoke the truth, and look at them now. The albums are classics, and so are they. Its easy to get blinded by the lights and success, but if you aren't culturally connected, you're just going to flame out. Don't just do it for the money, tell the truth from your perspective, and the success will follow.

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