Music executive Luke Wood is leaving his post as Chief Strategy Officer of Interscope Geffen A&M and president of its rock imprint DGC Records to join Beats Electronics, the company started by IGA chairman Jimmy Iovine and rapper-producer Dr. Dre in 2006. Beats’ main business is the production of high-fidelity headphones, which range in price from the $99 iBeats to the $400-plus Pros. Wood comes in as president and chief operating officer.
“Luke has been a passionate advocate and believer in Beats ever since Dre and I conceived the idea four years ago, and he deeply shares our vision to repair the sound ecosystem and restore appreciation for audio quality that has been lost to the digital music revolution,” says Iovine in a statement released on Tuesday.
Wood admits that the company’s mission “sounds evangelical and grand,” but says it’s an area in desperate need of fixing. “The digital revolution has been so disruptive, not just in terms of the commerce of music, but the quality of the sound,” he tells THR. And when it comes to new generations of music listeners, Wood insists it’s only a matter of exposing them to how good things can sound, and then, like going from mono to stereo or regular TV or HDTV, they hear the difference loud and clear. No wonder Beats sales have grown over 100% in the last year, with consumers purchasing more than 1.6 million headphones, according to Wood.
In his new position, Wood will have to answer to two “very active” bosses. Dre, he says, comes around the office regularly and “works on every single product,” using 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” as his personal barometer for sound perfection. Iovine’s litmus test, meanwhile, is Tom Petty’s “Refugee,” which he produced back in 1980.
Wood spent 14 years working in A&R, eight with Iovine, and before that marketing and publicity, where he was among the first to delve into the digital domain. He sees Beats as a natural extension of his music business experience so far. “For me, it’s always been about what really moves culture,” says Wood. “Consumer desire, speed to market, an emotional connection to the brand… that’s what pulled me into music and that kind of skillset is no different than the headphone business.”