He’s got the market covered—from the music you hear to the way you hear it—and wants it all to be one thing: great
Power is not a word Jimmy Iovine will use. He prefers “great.” To back up his point, he quotes Bruce Springsteen’s statements in 2010 documentary “The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story.” “I never say someone is powerful. I think of what Bruce said: ‘I wasn’t looking to be famous, I wasn’t looking to be rich. I was looking to be great.’ To me, it’s all about being really good. All I ever really work for is to be a really good engineer, a good producer, a good executive, good in the world of Beats. That’s power to me.”
Iovine’s 2013 included hits from Imagine Dragons, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Robin Thicke and Maroon 5. Beats Electronics continued to dominate the headphones business and its “Project Daisy” subscription service—now called Beats Music—was one of the year’s most discussed projects. It launched in January.
“I know what labels and artists need, along with the consumer,” Iovine says of the service. “We built something that works for us, for me, our friends, Dr. Dre. We enjoy using it. It’s what we would like to have and we built it to where we felt it could help others. It’s really built to make people’s lives more interesting.”
At Interscope, he handed over the day-to day reins to John Janick (No. 19). “Most people have not planned for succession, and I wanted a real successor,” he says. Iovine continues to review potential signings and all music that the label is issuing. He’s also hands-on with certain records, the new U2 album being his current key project.
In talking about music, Iovine can’t compliment Lana Del Rey enough, saying she was the artist who impressed him the most in 2013, even noting he also saw great shows from Springsteen and Leonard Cohen. He remains further impressed by the effect of Beats advertising on sales, noting Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” and Max Frost’s “White Lies.”
“It’s more fun for me with all these platforms,” he says, refuting the notion that he has diversified his industry activities. “Diversifying to me is the product of having an idea and knowing to say, ‘Let’s do it.’ I’m so proud of Beats. When I went to [the recent Consumer Electronics Show] I saw that the audio business is exploding. I’m thrilled Dre and I have been able to get a generation that was lost to bad audio hearing music the way it should feel and sound.”