Jimmy Iovine certainly didn't need to go to Apple to secure his status as a legend in the music business, but, at 61, he's embarking on potentially his most influential and interesting career chapter yet.
Last May, when Apple purchased Beats Electronics, the headphone and subscription streaming company that Iovine started with Dr. Dre, for $3 billion, the company also bought Iovine's brain. Iovine left his role as chairman of Interscope Records, the label he co-founded in 1990 that gave rise to Dr. Dre, Eminem and No Doubt. The deal, the largest in Apple's history, was a shot across the bow that signaled the tech giant's intent to reinvigorate and reimagine its relationship with the music industry. In turn, Apple got a fully functioning subscription streaming service to complement its iTunes store and streaming radio service.
"Jimmy's full-force gale is the perfect match to Tim Cook's Zen calm. I think he feels it's his life's mission to bring the music scene back to fair health -- to a place where artists, as well as companies and consumers, get a good deal. The penicillin, as Jimmy [sees] it, is paid subscription -- but he has a lot more up his sleeve than streaming." -- Bono
The former sound engineer (Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run) and producer (Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedoes, U2's Rattle & Hum) long has been a leading proponent of the power of digital music delivery and discovery (Jimmy and Doug's Farm Club, anyone?), and his ties with Apple have run deep ever since he was one of Steve Jobs' main liaisons with the record industry during the 2003 launch of iTunes.
Expect his stint with Apple -- which doesn't come with an official title, according to his spokeswoman -- to bring a seismic shift to the intersection of music and technology as Iovine, who grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in Los Angeles' exclusive enclave of Holmby Hills, works to develop the next generation of music delivery. "There have been two major collisions between Silicon Valley and the entertainment business," says Marc Geiger, William Morris Endeavor's head of music. "The first was when Disney and Bob Iger bought Pixar and made Steve Jobs a board member, close adviser and major shareholder. The second is Jimmy and Beats going to Apple. This move will be even more significant and game-changing for our industry."
"I've always felt Jimmy's instincts were on the [cutting] edge of the mainstream. [He has a] keen sense of what's next," says Big Machine Label Group president/CEO Scott Borchetta. "The power and reach of Apple with Jimmy and Dre's vision, creativity and drive to not only keep music valuable but to grow the value may be what the music doctor ordered. We have one of our own on the inside, [and] we all will benefit."