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Steve Stoute Teams Up With Google For United Masters

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Steve Stoute is one of the masterminds behind some of the biggest hip-hop artist of all time from Nas, to Dre, and Jay-Z. Now he is ready to change the music industry with a venture called UnitedMasters with $70 million in funding from investors including Google parent Alphabet Inc. The group is merging advertising and music for any artist.

UnitedMasters is ready to give musicians an alternative to exploitative record label deals. Musicians will pay UnitedMasters for what is being described as “the lowest price for distribution” to get their songs to stream on music sites, and the company, in turn, pays the streaming companies. UnitedMasters will, in some cases, get a small percentage of the money the artists make when their songs are streamed. In other custom deals with musicians, UnitedMasters may get a percentage of merchandise or ticket sales.

Now labels often want a cut of all of the artists’ revenue streams. “Label started doing 360 deals because they margins were drying up [as CD sales declined], but they weren’t providing a 360 service” Stoute chides. “I’m not making the records labels the ‘bad guy’” he qualifies, but declares “The models have to change.” Artists often complain that streaming doesn’t pay enough, but companies like Spotify pay out almost 70 percent of their revenue. It’s the labels withholding more than they deserve.

The San Francisco-based venture, which has been building a 40-person team, will help up-and-coming artists get their music on streaming platforms like Spotify and Pandora and use online tools to market the musicians and help them reach fans. The group, and the data it gleans will also help brands target certain types of music fans.

“We want to build a business that helps musicians, which is my passion, and also helps brands find a much more specific way of investing their money in the category of music,” Stoute said.

Artists can create accounts with UnitedMasters, but the team and its technology are also working to scour platforms like music-streaming site SoundCloud and YouTube to discover promising new talent. The group is working with 1,000 musicians, according to Mr. Stoute, who added that the artists will still own the rights to their music.

“Brands are spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to get to young people by using music as the vehicle,” said ben Horowitz. “Being able to use music data and making it actionable so they can target and speak to these fans, that’s super important.”

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Adidas Promises To Only Uses Recycled Plastics In Products By 2024

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Adidas is taking a step forward in becoming an eco-friendly company.

Adidas is planning to expand its use of recycled plastics well beyond its flagship shoes. The sportswear maker has promised to only use recycled polyester in its shoes and clothing by 2024. While the company’s Eric Liedtke didn’t provide a detailed roadmap in a chat with the Financial Times, he characterized it as a transition that will see Adidas take “right-sized bites” out of its budget to make the switch without hurting its profit margins. It’s no mean feat — about half of Adidas’ material is polyester right now, Liedtke said, so an “overnight” changeover isn’t in the cards.

A lot of that cost likely has to do with economies of scale. Recycled polyester can carry up to a 20 percent premium over the freshly-made variety, and it could prove daunting to process the material in Adidas-level quantities. The company is likely betting that refined techniques will bring the costs down over time. Adidas is planning on removing the plastics from their products, they won’t even use them in their offices, retail outlets, warehouses, and distribution centers, saving an estimated 40 tons of plastic per year, starting in 2018.

Let’s hope more companies are plan to incorporate eco-conscious designs in their products.

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Papa John CEO Steps Down After Using The N-Word In Conference Call

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The founder and former CEO of Papa John‘s left the company.

Hours after it was confirmed that he used a racial slur during a company conference call earlier in May. John Schnatter, who turned his pizza place into a national chain ubiquitous with Peyton Manning and the National Football League.

According to Forbes, which first wrote about the conference call, Schnatter compared himself to another restaurant founder and alleged that they were treated differently despite asserting that the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken had used racist language in the past.

It seems commenting on that incident is what got Schnatter into further trouble in a conference call a Forbes report described in detail. The call was reportedly arranged between Papa John’s executives and a marketing agency called Laundry Service and was designed to help the company prevent any further damage to its public image.

But though Schnatter he said he would “distance” himself from racists, according to Forbes he used the racial slur in an attempt to defend himself during the call.

This is just another questionable moment for Schanatter. In December after making critical public comments about athletes of color in the National Football League conducting nonviolent protests during the National Anthem. Schnatter had claimed kneeling athletes caused a dip in his pizza sales, which made the brand popular with neo-nazis and white supremacists.

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Amazon Buys Nas-Backed Pharmacy For $1 Billion Dollars

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This just might be the best summer of Nas’ life.

After releasing his new album NASIR on G.O.O.D Music, the Queens native pharmacy startup was purchased by Amazon. The online pharmacy PillPack was purchased for $1 billion dollars.

Queensbridge Venture Partners, the rapper’s venture capital firm, was an early backer of the Boston-based firm, along with VC heavyweights like Accel and Sherpa Capital. The sale will net the startup’s two co-founders around $100 million each, according to the Chicago Tribune. The size of Queensbridge’s stake is unclear, but it’s likely Nas is walking away with a solid chunk of money.

PillPack’s pitch is to streamline access to medications. The company fulfills drug prescriptions with front door-shipping, while managing the payment and refill process with automated software. The acquisition boosts Amazon’s growing efforts to expand into the health care market.

QVP, founded in 2014, previously invested in a cloud-based mastering company, a cricket protein bar manufacturer and a “smart doorbell” startup, among other ventures.

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