Interscope founder and Beats by Dre co-founder Jimmy Iovine
EXECUTIVES

Jimmy Iovine: Of Humility and Hitmakers

On Boardroom’s “Out of Office” podcast, the record producer spoke on a lifetime of knowledge gained from working with extraordinary people like Dr. Dre

Without Jimmy Iovine, there would be no Born to Run, Money for Nothing, or a long list of Patti Smith and Tom Petty classics. There would be no Interscope Records and there would be no Beats headphones.

Knowing this, you’d likely cut the man some slack if he spent more time feeling himself than the average guy on the street.

But as Iovine told Boardroom’s Rich Kleiman on the latest episode of the “Out of Office” podcast, becoming a true hitmaker absolutely requires eliminating ego from the equation. Success begins with meeting people where they are.

Whether he was working with John Lennon or U2 or Gwen Stefani, Iovine explained that the most productive relationships can only be built on empathy and humility. With this foundation established, he was able to cultivate just the right kind of confidence to thrive as an engineer, producer, and executive across multiple sonic generations.

And somewhere along the way, he made a billion dollars off of Beats by Dre.

When Jimmy first met the future hip mogul called Andre Young, he couldn’t have precisely known what fate held in store for the two of them. But over their years as music collaborators — Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment was founded as a joint venture with Iovine’s Interscope in 1996 — it was increasingly clear that the pair shared a restless, voracious sense of not just creative curiosity, but entrepreneurship.

Interestingly, Iovine also noted that he saw the same entrepreneurial spirit in LeBron James, who famously asked for a stake in Beats Electronics when he was approached about an endorsement deal in 2008.

“[T]he next thing that LeBron did was take the headphones, 18 of them, on a plane to Beijing. And when he got off the plane, the whole [US Olympic] Team had them around their neck,” he said of LBJ’s kill-for-this mentality. It’s a commitment that goes far beyond merely securing equity points and passive income.

Iovine, Dre, and LeBron’s upbringings may not have resembled one another, but the way they nevertheless met in the middle as dreamers and creators was natural. And it made possible everything that was to come.

Culminating with the historic deal to sell Beats to Apple for $3.2 billion in 2014.

“These cultures, what they bring each other. It’s awesome,” he said. “Dre and I have never had an argument, and it’s because of that relationship that we are both as successful as we are.”

Even to say nothing of their unbreakable friendship, it’s would be hard to argue with all the billions and the mountains of No. 1 hits, after all.

Click here to listen to this episode of the “Out of Office” podcast with Jimmy Iovine now.

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