Inside the Partnership of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine

Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine
Some analysts have speculated that the reason behind Apple’s recent purchase of Beats Electronics wasn’t to acquire the brand itself, but rather its leaders, Dr. Dre and former Interscope boss Jimmy Iovine. The six-time Grammy-winning producer and industry heavyweight have been the driving force behind the company since founding it in 2008, and this summer, they launched an academy at the University of Southern California with the goal of inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an in-depth article about Dre and Iovine’s business relationship and what they’re hoping to achieve with the program, to which they donated $70 million. Here’s what we learned from the piece:
Iovine started from the bottom.

WJ: “Iovine was the head of Interscope Records for two and a half decades where he helped oversee the careers of U2, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas. At 19 he got a job sweeping the floors at a Manhattan recording studio, and from there worked his way into a gig as a recording engineer for John Lennon. Within a few years, he was engineering albums for Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.”

Dre’s engineering on The Chronic is what initially impressed Iovine.

JI: “I wasn’t a fan of hip-hop … They were playing me hip-hop because Interscope was going to be in the hip-hop business, but it all sounded muddy to me. I’m a recording engineer—it just offended me sonically. Then Dre brought in his record, and it sounded as cool as Pink Floyd or Sgt. Pepper’s. I said, ‘Who mixed this?’ and he said, ‘Me.’ And I said, ‘No, no, but who engineered it?’ And he said, ‘Me!’ And I said, ‘OK, I’m getting into business with you.’”

Beats by Dre started with a chance run-in on the beach.

WSJ: “Iovine was in Malibu, at his friend David Geffen’s house, when he decided to go for a stroll. He happened upon Dr. Dre, who was out on the balcony of his own house nearby. Dre told him he’d been approached a few days earlier by an athletic company about doing a shoe line; his lawyer wanted him to do it, but Dre wasn’t sure. (‘I’m not into fashion,’ he says. ‘I wear the same s— every day.’) He asked Iovine for his thoughts. Iovine’s immortal response: ‘F— sneakers—let’s make speakers.’”

Their business relationship is built on mutual trust.

JI: “We just trust each other … He’s as good a producer and engineer as Michael Jordan is a basketball player. He has an incredible patience that I don’t. And he’s a good touchstone for me. Every time we start going off one way, he’ll say, ‘Nah, man—we’re getting corny.’”

Iovine thinks some tech companies are out of touch with culture.

JI: “We wanted to build a school that we feel is what the entertainment industry needs right now … 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.”

Related: Apple’s CEO Tim Cook Explains Beats by Dre Acquisition