As Beats By Dre prepares to sever ties with Monster Cable Products, Interscope chairman and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine has plans for further expansion into other entertainment arenas. With Beats technology already on Hewlett-Packard laptops and PCs, in Chrysler's 300 S sedan and the 2012 Dodge Charger as well as on HTC smartphones ( HTC purchased a $300 million majority stake in the company last August, Iovine left this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with a call to arms for the consumer electronics industry.
"You're only as good as your weakest link in the ecosystem of sound, of audio," Iovine told Billboard.biz shortly after touching down at LAX on Friday. "In the music industry, we have lost an entire generation to bad sound…We want PC makers to have better audio, because these things are used as home stereos by a lot of people and that makes it suck."
Iovine says there's no bad blood between Beats and Monster, and in fact just saw Monster CEO Noel Lee in Vegas Thursday night. "It was cool, it was social," Iovine said. "We had a few business things that you have when you work with a guy for five years. But we've grown so fast we have to be nimble, to control our own destiny. It was always structured that way."
He noted that Monster played no part in the Chrysler, HTC or HP deals, and that Beats will act as its own manufacturer going forward. NPD group recently valued Beats as accounting for more than half of the $1 billion headphone market in 2011, which would place their product sales in the $500 million range. Iovine says the company will focus on staffing up in 2012 while actively talking to other potential partners and device manufacturers.
"We are purely on a mission to fix audio for every record company for every artist around the world. We have to turn this thing around and we're starting to," he said. "I'm happy that everyone else is now jumping in on culture and audio. If anything should be said about this, it's that. The impact that we have had on moving audio forward is that we're taking it out of a downward spiral. When was the last time you heard a kid say, 'I wanna get some Bose for Christmas?'"
As for Beats' growing roster of celebrity competitors (50 Cent's line for SMS Audio, RZA's Chambers, Soul by Ludacris, etc.), Iovine said he's paid little attention to them thus far. "This artist stuff is irrelevant, this jumping in. Everyone sees Dr. Dre as a sound pioneer that happens to be a rapper," he said. "Some of our competitors are cheap engineers who have never been to a recording studio. You can't just stick someone's name on a headphone that doesn't know anything about sound."
Iovine is also set to be honored by the Recording Aacademy during Grammy Week in Los Angeles next month for his achievements in recorded music. "It's important to me because it's another step another piece to pushing that message forward," he said. "It's one thing for the industry to lose half its revenue to piracy, it's another to destroy it emotionally. That has to be caught before it's too late, that's what our mission was and that's what our mission is."