C-Suite Disruptors: A Lesson in Music from RZ3 Founder Tricky Stewart

With the creative swag of a thousand men, Tricky Stewart plays it cool when discussing his many accomplishments. While this may make his ascent to CEO seem like a piece of cake to some, we certainly know better. The Grammy Award-winner has been putting in work for over 30 years.

“My generation didn’t like gatekeepers. We didn’t like people telling us that we had to follow, and we had to conform.”

-Tricky Stewart

As founder of Atlanta-based record label and studio RZ3 Recordings (formerly RedZone Entertainment), Tricky’s love for music began as a child, where he experimented with rudimentary instruments early on. His level of inventiveness beams, and it is easy to see how he has been responsible for creating rosters of artists from scratch. “I like the responsibility of leadership and helping young people achieve their dreams,” Stewart says. “Helping them understand that they need to be responsible for what they think and wish for” is key.

RZ3 Recordings founder Tricky Stewart. Photo by Sydney Foster.

So, what has multi-hyphenate Tricky Stewart not done? After years as a successful songwriter, producer, and composer, in 2011 he was named President of A&R at Epic Records. He’s worked with the best of the best including Frank Ocean, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, and more recently, musical icon, Beyoncé to name a few.

When reflecting on the evolution of the game, being the C-Suite Disruptor that he is, Stewart says, “my generation didn’t like gatekeepers. We didn’t like people telling us that we had to follow, and we had to conform.” It is without question that we have yesterday’s artists to thank for their breakthrough mentality, which laid the foundation for the direct-to-consumer space that music is currently in.

“I like the responsibility of leadership and helping young people achieve their dreams.”

-Tricky Stewart

While person-to-person retail offers many advantages for music artists, Stewart says, “there’s [still] a certain work ethic and level of education that needs to exist. It’s your responsibility to know what it is that you think you want to be a part of.” While it only takes the click of a button to get into the game these days, he urges newcomers to “navigate with discernment.”

RZ3 Recordings founder Tricky Stewart. Photo by Sydney Foster.

Tricky describes his latest venture, Sessions Atlanta, as a musical social house. “We curate elevated experiences for creatives to collaborate, connect and elevate both musically and sonically,” he says. The trailblazer encourages artists to study their craft and educate themselves on the industry. “Watch documentaries, read other people’s stories.”

After being in the industry for as long as he has, there’s been a lot that Tricky Stewart has learned. His words of advice to burgeoning artists? “The first thing about being successful in this [industry] is to not use music as your dream. This is a business. Get a full understanding of this game because a little bit of information can become dangerous.”

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Updated: August 28, 2023 — 12:02 pm