Iovine and Dre, co-founders of Beats, are in talks to sell the company for $3.2 billion to the iPhone and iPad maker in a deal which is expected to be announced later this week.
Both are expected to join Apple in yet-to-be confirmed executive roles. One person said Iovine would likely oversee all of Apple’s music strategy and handle relationships with labels and publishers.
Though Apple is the music business’ biggest customer, its relationships with some of the music companies has at times been strained as it has tried to figure out how to cope with dwindling download sales. For example, iTunes executives have suggested that labels provide exclusive albums for downloads ahead of streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify.
Several industry insiders and commentators believe the Beats deal is partly prompted by Apple’s desire to get in to the subscription streaming space as download sales tumbled more than 13% in the first quarter and continued to shrink. Apple’s iTunes Store is the leading digital music store in the United States, with more than 70% of song and album download sales.
This year’s WWDC will take place June 2-6 in San Francisco. The event is usually an opportunity for engineers and app developers to get a first look at new developments for Apple’s operating platforms.
At last year’s conference , CEO Tim Cook unveiled iTunes Radio as part of its iOS 7 operating system launch.
If Dre were to be presented at the WWDC ,it would not be the first time. He has previously appeared at an Apple event; about a decade ago, he appeared by video link at an Apple event to congratulate Steve Jobs on the launch of the iPod and the iTunes store.
For his part, Iovine had a long relationship with Jobs, according to several sources. He had tried unsuccessfully to convince Jobs to launch a music subscription service.
The Apple/Beats deal is expected to take about two months to close, and the company might wait till the closing to unveil the executives as Apple employees.