Rob Stone

Social-Media Mavens

Rob Stone, B.S.’90

Rob Stone

The Power of Music

By Jim Sciancalepore, M.A.’93

“It’s no longer effective to talk at your audience,” explained Rob Stone. “You have to become part of the conversation – part of the culture.”

Stone is the founder and co-CEO of Cornerstone, a marketing agency that exists at the intersection of music, marketing and pop culture. Cornerstone has developed experiential marketing efforts for some of the world’s biggest brands (including Nike, Converse and Coca-Cola) by connecting them in a relevant way with major music artists, including Kanye West; actors like Aaron Paul; and movies and TV shows such as “Entourage.” Launched in 1996, Cornerstone is now staffed by more than 100 people – with offices across three continents.

Fader Magazine Cover with Nicki Minaj

Cornerstone’s campaigns include traditional media, like outdoor and print, but they also leverage the viral power of video; social media; and live, culture-shaping events, such as the annual SXSW festival.

“People value the opinions and recommendations of their friends and peers over the clutter of messages being broadcast at them – that’s why social media and word of mouth are so important,” said Stone. “But you have to create something special and entertaining that people will genuinely want to interact with and share.”

Before founding Cornerstone, Stone began his career in the music business, working with legendary producer Clive Davis and such artists as Sean “Puffy” Combs and Notorious B.I.G. His love for music extends beyond Cornerstone: He is also co-founder of The FADER, a magazine that spotlights emerging artists. With a strong eye for talent, The FADER has provided the first-ever cover stories for Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj, The White Stripes and others.

Stone takes great joy in co-running both businesses, and said his instincts date back to his UAlbany days and beyond.

“At age 8, I sent my dad a list of candy and soda that I wanted him to bring to my sleep-away camp, because I knew I could resell them for a profit,” said Stone. “While at UAlbany, I started the first-ever Young Comedians night at LP’s [a now defunct Albany bar], and I created an advertising calendar with local merchants like Sovrana Pizza and other Albany vendors. I’ve always been entrepreneurial.”

Next: Rachel Galatt, B.A.’94