Executive VP, Universal Republic / Casablanca
ROB STEVENSON
Executive VP, Universal Republic / Casablanca
One of the music industry’s foremost A&R trailblazers Rob Stevenson parallels his chosen profession and a passion for surfing. “When you come into work every day, it’s like you get on your surfboard, paddle out, and wait,” he explains. “The first wave comes, and you end up just behind it. Somebody else catches the next wave – so you back off. Another wave comes, but it’s not as big as you thought and it won’t carry you. Right when you’re ready to give up, a final wave arrives, and you realize you don’t need to paddle because you’re being pulled. That’s the best feeling in the world. When you find that artist, you just want to do it all over again.” The Republic Records Executive Vice President continues to catch those waves. Since first joining the label as Executive Vice President of A&R in 2011, he has signed and ignited the careers of James BayPhantogram, Gotye, and Of Monsters and Men, fueling their transformation into household names. Simultaneously, he proved instrumental to the re-launch of Casablanca Records, yielding a platinum record-breaking smash with Martin Garrix’s “Animals” and Tiësto who turned out his first two RIAA gold singles on the label’s roster. He works closely with artists such as The Weeknd and Jessie J as well. Moreover, he’s expanded the staff and broadened the department’s perspective to align with the rapidly changing landscape and a “streaming world.” His philosophy proves both personal and propulsive. “I really believes an A&R executive is supposed to be a coach,” he says. “Your job is to remove obstacles and push an artist past what he or she thinks they can do. It’s not a product business; it’s a people business, and that means it always different.  You really help them cross that chasm between what they think they can do and what they can actually do.” It’s something that he excels at. During a storied decade-long run at Island Def Jam Music Group in A&R, he personally signed The KillersFall Out BoySum 41, and more. Entertainment Weekly proclaimed him “Must A&R Guy” on their 2006 “Must Last,” while he achieved “The Industry Award” from New York MagazineJay-Z even fondly dubbed him, “The King of Rock (K Rock for short), following his immense success. After leaving IDJ, he became President of A&R at Virgin Records. There, he was behind seminal records from Katy PerryThe Beastie Boys, and Thirty Seconds to Mars in addition to signing Alice In Chains. With new acts such as The Ruen Brothers and Grace Mitchell at Republic, he seeks out those waves with the same combination of patience and tenacity, knowing the end result. “The real value in music for people is when a song, album, or artist gets interwoven with memories and experiences of their lives,” he leaves off. “Music can help you celebrate the good times or get you through the tough times. I love being a part of that.”