In an interesting Wall Street Journal profile of Beats founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, the two music industry vets and current Apple employees describe their new $70m undergraduate academy at the University of Southern California as a training ground for future Apple and Beats employees.
“We wanted to build a school that we feel is what the entertainment industry needs right now,” Iovine is quoted as saying. “There’s a new kid in town, and he’s brought up on an iPad from one and a half years old. But the problem with some of the companies up north [in Silicon Valley] is that they really are culturally inept.”
“I’ve been shocked at the different species in Northern and Southern California—we don’t even speak the same language. The kid who’s going to have an advantage in the entertainment industry today is the kid who speaks both languages: technology and liberal arts. That’s what this school is about.”
Iovine and Dre poured funding the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and Business of Innovation, prior to Apple acquiring Beats for a whopping $3 billion.
In addition to the Apple-esque mantra of bridging the gap between “technology and liberal arts,” the article also discusses streaming music, which is a key concern to Apple seeing as its iTunes downloads are increasingly being overtaken by services like Spotify.
“Streaming was actually first [before headphones],” Iovine says. “I couldn’t get it done. I didn’t have the platform. But once I had Beats, I had the platform. It’s a piece of equipment, a piece of hardware. And I wanted to build a piece of software that worked with it.”
Iovine also notes that he always wanted to sell his subscription service to Apple, although Steve Jobs passed on it. “Every deal I made, I offered to Apple,” he is quoted as saying. “I only wanted to work with Apple.”
The article doesn’t offer any confirmation about the reason Apple made Beats its largest ever acquisition, but does offer a potentially revealing tidbit from Iovine about the importance of combining the art creation and distribution models:
“I think what you’re seeing more and more are companies that are designed to do multiple things. If you look at the Beats model, there’s software and hardware. Look at what Amazon is doing; look at what Google’s trying to do. It’s technology and content in one … [Sony] had it. They had the Walkman, they had the PlayStation. And they bought Columbia Pictures and Columbia Records, so they had the content. But they never finished the thought—and Apple ended up with the products. Where do you think Steve got the idea?”