Milana Lewis is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Stem, the leading distribution, payment, and financing solution built to simplify the process of releasing music in today’s industry and designed to empower artists & their teams to run their business truly independently. Backed by industry-leading investors including Upfront Ventures, Evolution Media, and WndrCo, Stem is one of the fastest-growing artist-centric distribution platforms championing for the creative class by bringing clarity to the music business.
In 2008, Milana, then an undergraduate student at UCLA, took a leave of absence from school when she couldn’t afford tuition for her senior year and started working in the mailroom at Endeavor. At Endeavor (now WME), she witnessed first-hand the impact of the writer’s strike and financial crisis on the industry — observing a shift towards de-risked “blockbusters” and away from creator-led and independent projects. As financing for projects constricted, she noticed the emergence of self-distribution and how social media and new technology platforms could empower a new class of artists to control their own projects. Inspired to help pioneer this change, Milana eventually returned and graduated from UCLA’s Women’s Studies College where she designed and earned a degree (B.A) in Critical New Media Literacy.
Milana joined United Talent Agency (UTA) as a Digital Media Agent and spent five years helping build the agency’s digital offering by advising individual and corporate clients on emerging distribution platforms, digitally-driven fundraising, and new monetization opportunities. Milana advised renowned creators Issa Rae, Gwen Stefani, and Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars, on how to leverage platforms like Kickstarter and Shopify to develop, distribute, license, and finance original content and leverage new media to connect directly with their fans.
In addition to representing a roster of digital creators, including prominent stars across YouTube, Vine, and emergent social media platforms, Milana sourced deals for UTA Ventures where she worked on their Awesomeness TV investment and ran point on early-stage investments in Patreon, Hello Giggles, Splash, and MikMakTV.
In 2015 Milana left UTA to co-found Stem.