Beats buy brings ‘guys with very rare skills,’ says Apple’s Tim Cook


Beats Music's Jimmy Iovine, Tim Cook, Dr. Dre, and Eddy Cue at Apple HQ
Beats Music's Jimmy Iovine, Tim Cook, Dr. Dre, and Eddy Cue at Apple HQ

Apple’s acquisition of Beats is official, and it’s clear that the move is more about the talent Apple is getting than anything else.

After the buyout was announced this afternoon, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained the reasoning behind the company’s decision. “What Beats brings to Apple are guys with very rare skills,” he said in an interview with Re/code. “People like this aren’t born every day. They’re very rare. They really get music deeply. So we get infusion in Apple of some great talent.”

So it’s obvious that Apple thinks very highly of the people at Beats. But who exactly are they getting as part of the deal?

The main guy Apple wants out of Beats seems to be Jimmy Iovine, a longtime friend of the company that also serves as chairman of Interscope Records.

He’s widely considered to be the most well-connected man in the music industry, and he was instrumental in negotiating deals with big bands in the early days of iTunes, like U2 and the Product (RED) iPod.

Steve Jobs was famously against streaming, but Iovine saw it as the future of music delivery long before competitors like Spotify. He pitched a music-streaming service to Jobs before the iTunes Store was even announced.

Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers is another industry veteran who will be joining Apple alongside the rest of his team. In an interview a few months ago, Rogers described how Beats Music prided itself on human curation of music, a strength that no one else has really brought to the table.

“The first subscription service that really got it right”

During the interview today with Re/code, Cook touched on Beats Music specifically. “We get a subscription music service that we believe is the first subscription service that really got it right,” he said. “They had the insight early on to know how important human curation is. That technology by itself wasn’t enough — that it was the marriage of the two that would really be great, and produce a feeling in people that we want to produce.”

What Dr. Dre’s role at Apple will be remains a little more vague. He is a co-founder of Beats and will undoubtedly be paid handsomely as part of the deal. He told The Wall Street Journal he’ll do “as much as it takes” for Apple, whatever that means.

“We could build just about anything that you could dream of,” said Cook. “But that’s not the question. The thing that Beats provides us is a head start. They provide us with incredible people, that don’t grow on trees. They’re creative souls, kindred spirits.”