While Iovine is best known today as a music executive, he first rose to prominence in the 1970s as a music engineer, working with such icons as John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith. A pivotal moment for Iovine came in 1979, when he produced Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' breakthrough third album Damn the Torpedoes. In the '80s, Iovine went on to produce decade-defining albums including Dire Straits' Making Movies, Stevie Nicks' debut solo album, Bella Donna, U2's Under a Blood Red Sky and The Pretenders' Get Close.
Iovine entered a new career phase as a music executive in 1990, when he co-founded Interscope Records alongside Ted Field. At the now-storied label, he developed the careers of Tupac, Dr Dre and Eminem, also signing the likes of Gwen Stefani, Nine Inch Nails, Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga. In 2008, he and Dr Dre co-founded headphones brand Beats Electronics and Beats Music, both of which Apple purchased for $3 billion total in 2014 -- a deal which brought Iovine in-house at Apple, where he helped architect Apple Music and Beats 1.
The partnership between Iovine and Dr Dre became the subject of HBO docu-series The Defiant Ones in 2017. It wasn't Iovine's first run-in with success in Hollywood: 8 Mile, released in 2002, grossed more than $240 million worldwide and spawned Eminem's hit single "Lose Yourself," while the soundtrack for 2005 film Get Rich or Die Tryin', executive-produced by Iovine, has sold 3 million copies worldwide.
With the new acquisition, Hipgnosis continues to build out its treasure trove of some of the top catalogs in music. Founded by superstar manager Merck Mercuriadis, the Guernsey-registered investment company's recent purchases have included the catalogs (outright or a stake in) of Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, Blondie, Barry Manilow, Dion "No I.D." Wilson and Rick James. In November, Hipgnosis acquired the Kobalt Music Copyrights Fund 1, including 33,000 songs, for $323 million.
"While barely in my teens, I noticed that so many of my favorite albums had one name in common. The best albums by John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith all had Jimmy Iovine on them," Mercuriadis said in a statement. "[...] I have been glued to everything Jimmy does ever since. His incomparable success with Interscope and Beats means that he would never have to make a deal for money again, but leave it to Jimmy to figure out the most efficient way possible to use his producer royalties to build a best-in-class high school in the inner city and once again make a massive difference, as he has throughout his life. It’s an honor to now be a custodian of his incredible work on these iconic albums and I’m very happy to welcome him to the Hipgnosis family."
Iovine was represented in the deal by Paul Wachter of Main Street Advisors and attorneys Eric Sacks and Don Friedman of Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.