Year founded: 2015
Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA
What they do: Eliminate the friction of getting paid for your creative work.
Stem is a self-described distribution and payments platform for music collaborators. It shot to prominence in 2016 when Frank Ocean's Blonde was mysteriously powered by this payment distribution service. Representatives of Frank Ocean and Apple Music declined to comment, but they nevertheless championed Stem as influential in its avant-garde approach to profit sharing.
Founders Jovin Cronin-Wilesmith, Milana Rabkin and Tim Luckow, who are based in Los Angeles, envision Stem as a game-changer in the royalties game for the independent artist. Their website describes the mission thusly: "Stem tracks and organizes revenue streams for artists and their teams, ensuring everyone involved has access to precise, actionable data and monthly payments."
"We think that getting paid for your work should be simple," Head of Brand Strategy Shanna Jade explains. "Stem has built a unified dashboard on web and iOS that allows users to distribute content view performance data, easily memorialize revenue splits, and ensure everyone involved is paid their fair share of earnings each month. We provide the tools artists and their teams need to enable everyone in the success of a release so that they spend less time making sense of spreadsheets, and more time focusing on making great art."
Distributing payment to artists may seem like a pretty simple task, but with all the new platforms, creative deals, methods of consumption, and global collaboration that happens in modern music, it's more complicated than ever. Stem is fixing that. Read more about them in this New York Times article from earlier this year.