Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will take senior positions at Apple in Beats deal

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Both Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will take senior positions at Apple as part of the Beats Electronics deal, according to people close to the matter.

While neither would move to Cupertino, they would reportedly commute to Silicon Valley (or wherever is needed) from Los Angeles. Although it’s currently unknown what role Iovine and Dre would fulfill at Apple, it is thought that Iovine might become a “special adviser” to Tim Cook on creative projects. Dre was recently seen celebrating becoming “the first billionaire in hip-hop.”

So who are these two possible new members of the Apple brain trust, and what would they bring to the table?

As per the N.W.A., the Beats deal would make Dr. Dre an Apple employee with an attitude

The Beats deal would make Dr. Dre an Apple employee with attitude.

61-year-old Iovine is currently chairman of the Universal Music Group-owned Interscope Geffen A&M records, where his contract expires early next year. However, since Universal (which owns 14 percent of Beats) would stand to gain $500 million from the deal, it is likely they will allow him out of his contract before then.

Born in 1965, 49-year-old Dr. Dre (real name: Andre Young) started out as a DJ before making his name as a hip-hop artist with gangsta rap group N.W.A. During the 1990s he created two classic albums as a solo artist with The Chronic and 2001. In 1996, he founded Aftermath Entertainment, which remains most notable for introducing the world to Eminem (a rapper whose signing was suggested by Iovine) and 50 Cent.

Since the turn of the millennium, Dre has focused more heavily on production, although he’s supposed to have been working on his final solo record, Detox, which has been rumored since 2001.

Iovine, meanwhile, started out in the early 1970s as a recording engineer, working with the likes of John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen.

The Beats by Dre headphones were designed by former Apple designer Robert Brunner

In 1990, he co-founded Interscope Records, which became Interscope Geffen A&M following a merger.

He co-produced successful 2002 movie 8-Mile, starring Eminem, and has also appeared as a judge on American Idol.

Dre and Iovine teamed up in 2008 to create the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones line, which early in its existence involved a deal with HP designed to help sell HP laptops. The headphones themselves were designed by former Apple designer Robert Brunner, the man responsible for hiring Jony Ive.

Last January, Dre and Iovine announced their expansion into the digital music world with Beats Music. During May 2013, they also donated a combined $70 million endowment to the University of Southern California to help “shape the future by nurturing the talents, passions, leadership and risk-taking of uniquely qualified students who are motivated to explore and create new art forms, technologies and business models.”

Jimmy Iovine was good friends with Steve Jobs. But would Jobs have hired him?

Jimmy Iovine was good friends with Steve Jobs. But would Jobs have hired him?

Aside from the obvious questions about how Apple stands to benefit from its reported Beats acquisition, it is interesting to look at what the (impending?) arrival of Iovine and Dr. Dre says about the company under Tim Cook.

In the past year, we’ve seen trusted Steve Jobs lieutenants Scott Forstall, Greg Christie, Peter Oppenheimer and Katie Cotton leave Apple, while notable arrivals have included former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts.

Part of the reason could be Cook’s willingness to welcome personalities from “flashier” industries like music and fashion. Although Jobs and Iovine were reportedly good friends, it is highly unlikely the record exec would have been welcomed as a full-time employee at Apple during Jobs’ tenure as CEO.

Cook, on the other hand, seems far more content to give other executives their due, as evidenced by his willingness to pose for the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek with Jony Ive and Craig Federighi.

A recent article by the Wall Street Journal suggests that while Iovine’s “rock-star temperament could still ruffle some feathers in tech-centric Cupertino, it may help Apple broker deals in the music industry and appeal to the younger consumers who gravitate to Beats headphones.”

  • Aannddyy

    Well good for them. The headphones look great in the design dept, hopefully Apple can help redesign the insides so they don’t sound like complete shit, which they do. Apple EarPods sound awesome, so I know they can help.

    • Not Debating — Informing

      I would be much happier if Apple were buying Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, or AKG Acoustics. It’s sad to see Apple go this direction after putting such an effort into sound quality (as evidenced by the inclusion of the iPod/iPod Classic on the Stereophile Recommended Components List for more than a decade).

      Beats headphones are designed to sound like shit — it’s not due to accident or incompetence. They purposely make them inaccurate with grossly exaggerated, thumping, sloppy bass. They are targeting people who have 15″ bandpass subwoofers powered by kilowatt amps in subcompact cars.

      If Apple continues in the tradition of intentionally shitty sound in order to sell to those same vulgar louts, they harm their brand and alienate refined consumers. If they make the headphones into something accurate, then all of the oafs who buy Beats now will cease buying them and search out some other boomy, nasty sounding headphone.

      I think that there’s a very small cross-section of consumers who want to enjoy good sound while looking like unrefined oafs by choosing the Beats brand.

      • JessicaSideways

        Agreed. It’s as if the people who make Dom Pérignon bought the rights to produce Cisco and MD 20/20.

      • JJ

        Totally agree with you. I could only cross my fingers with this acquisition and with these two people going onboard at Apple. Jobs are good friends with Jimmy, but he probably have very good reasons why he never asked him to work for Apple.

      • lucascott

        You are slightly wrong. They were NOT designed to sound like shit. They were designed to be the best headphones for hiphop, rap etc, which is way heavy on the bass. the shit sound is merely cause anything not heavy in bass doesn’t have these support it needs

        IF there is any truth to this rumor it is likely so that Apple can get some stash of patents and perhaps algorithms from the whole Beats Music thing. They might allow the headphones and speaker dept to remain as is or maybe they will kill it. That is if its in the deal at all.

      • Not Debating — Informing

        You misunderstand the role of headphones. The “best” headphones for any music are the ones that most accurately reproduce the music. If a recording is “way heavy in bass,” the headphones should accurately reproduce the full power of that bass, but not exaggerate it. They should not take tight bass and make it boomy and sloppy, as Beats do.

        There is no need not give up accuracy elsewhere in the spectrum in order to get powerful bass. To use television as an analogy, one does not have to tolerate really bad reproduction of shades of blue in order to get accurate reproduction of bright red.

        That’s why headphone aficionados hate Beats headphones. Beats are purposely inaccurate, distorting the frequency spectrum of the music and introducing high levels of distortion. Take a look at the enclosed graph that compares the Monster Beats Solo headphone frequency response with that of good, respected headphones. Now you should be able to see why people hate Beats.

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    Gene Munster absolutely hates the idea of some black rapper named Dr. Dre grabbing some power bestowed by Apple, the world’s wealthiest consumer tech company. He doesn’t want to see white America turned upside-down with some bling-infested minority/thug sitting on Apple’s board. Munster says he doesn’t quite understand where Apple is coming from to buy Beats but he really means he’d like investors to nix the deal to stop Apple from messing with Wall Street’s lily-white power control. Munster aims to stop Dr. Dre from joining the billionaire boys club in America. That’s a Whites Only exclusive club. Oprah doesn’t count because she’s not a boy. She’s just considered a cute and harmless female and no threat at all to the male-dominated Wall Street. Dr. Dre is a whole ‘nother story.

    Nice going, Munster. You have to give your useless two-bit opinion about how you’re smarter than everyone at Apple. Too bad you’ve forgotten how many times you’ve been wrong and Apple is still the wealthiest company by market cap by a huge amount without your wisdom. Yeah, Munster, you’re going to look pretty stupid again if Dr. Dre’s branding presence can entice more minorities into buying iPhones or other Apple gear.

    Apple can always bring Beats headphones up to their own hardware and audio standards, if necessary. The Beats sound is not engraved in stone. If Apple so chooses they can put a switch on every Beats headphone to cut the damn bass if the user chooses to do so. You people are so stuck in your ways of thinking. Once Apple takes over the company they can do whatever THEY want. The Beats headphones of tomorrow don’t have to sound like the Beat headphones of today and yesterday.

    • Not Debating — Informing

      I’ve got a few hundred shares of Apple, spent my career in engineering, and have been an audiophile since the 1970s. I know quite a bit about all of this.

      Nothing that Gene Munster wrote had anything to do with race and everything to do with market positioning and what the Beats brand could bring to the table versus some other possible takeover targets. The entire white supremacist thing seems to be something that you conjured up out of thin air. And this is coming from someone who voted for Jesse Jackson in a primary and Barack Obama in two Presidential elections.

      As to your idea about a switch to “cut the damn bass,” conventional, corded headphones don’t have active electronics that can change the EQ. The only way to create something like that is to install a complex set of passive L/C filters and attenuating resistors, and that ends up turning the headphones into a difficult-to-drive reactive load. Besides, it’s not simply the quantity of the bass, but also the quality of sound across the audio spectrum. No switch is going to magically give Beats headphones revealing, accurate treble or tight, controlled bass.

      Sure, Apple could change the sound of the Beats headphones. But then who would buy them? Bass-crazed louts would not buy them. People who wish to project a refined, sophisticated image would not buy them. It’s not going to enhance Apple’s image as a high-end brand.

      There are headphone brands out there that are highly respected by audiophiles and a much better fit for Apple’s core brand image and audience. One name that comes to is Bowers & Wilkins, which is already sold in Apple stores. A big advantage that B&W has over Beats is that B&W is a major player in the high-end, audiophile speaker market. That could be valuable to Apple as they try to move more forcefully into the home theater arena.

      • JJ

        Agree with you again. I have the B&W headphones and they’re miles better than Beats headphones. I don’t even understand all the fuss about Beats products. I would honestly prefer Bose over it.

    • lucascott

      Funny part is that the rumors are that Dre and Jimmy would be ‘special advisors’ not on the board. Rather makes me question if the reason for this is that such a deal makes them Apple employees and thus its legal to keep them from working with any other company etc. Rather like how they did to Scott Forstall after he was yanked from iOS. Being an ‘advisor’ kept him under all no talkie contract clauses until a time when he wouldn’t know anything that was a risk.

      • Not Debating — Informing

        It’s not worth $3.2billion to keep people responsible for crappy sounding headphones from working for your competition.

  • JJ

    This might create more conflicts than good inside Apple. Why Apple, why? You’re doing just fine. You don’t need to get into showbusiness.

  • lucascott

    I’m going to laugh my ass off if it comes out in a few days that the deal between Apple and Beats ‘fell through’ (because it was never real at all)

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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