NEW YORK — Apple is orchestrating a $3.2 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics LLC, the headphone maker and music streaming distributor founded by hip-hop star Dr. Dre and music industry impresario Jimmy Iovine, according to a published report.
The potential acquisition would add Beats Electronics’ popular line of headphones and music streaming service to an Apple line-up that already includes digital music players and the iTunes store, the world’s top music retailer.
It’s as though anything Iovine and Dr. Dre touch turns to gold: The dynamic duo marked epic-level success when they introduced Eminem to the music world 15 years ago, and their lucrative Beats by Dre business reached blockbuster heights following reports that Apple plans to buy the headphones’ parent company, Beats Electronics.
STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM
Well, not necessarily the bottom.Dre started as a producer but it was for N.W.A., the hip-hop group he was a member of alongside Eazy-E and Ice Cube. The West Coast-based
rappers made their stance in hip-hop culture and music history in the late `80s with controversial lyrics and edge, and Dre followed that with his own solo work that topped the charts. Dre is also responsible for bringing forth rap kings Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent and rising rap prince Kendrick Lamar. Outside of those acts, beats by Dre –literally – include tracks like Tupac’s classic California Love, Eve and Gwen Stefani’s Grammy-winning Let Me Blow Ya Mind and Mary J. Blige’s only song to hit No. 1, the party jam Family Affair.
BEATING THE OTHERS WITH BEATS
Many celebrities and musicians have launched headphones lines, from 50 Cent to Quincy Jones to Jay Z, but no one has come close to Beats by Dre. The brand, which debuted in 2008, brought new life to the headphone industry, reinvented the way people listen to music and revived how earphones could make a fashion statement. Dre is a doctor in the music industry, and Iovine is as needed as an IV.
HI, MY NAME IS …
It’s hard to imagine the world of entertainment – or Emtertainment for that matter – without thinking of Eminem, one of the ultra-successful members of pop culture. And part of his victory comes from his team: Dre and Iovine have been behind the Detroit icon since he emerged with brash raps and an energy that was both dominating and enticing. From the Oscar-winning 8 Mile to multiple multiplatinum albums to an influence on today’s musicians and music lovers, Eminem is a musical virtuoso and praise should also go to his guardian angels.
STILL GOING STRONG
Dre, whose upcoming album Detox has been anticipated for a decade, has mentored Lamar, a fellow Compton rapper who had a breakthrough last year with his platinum-selling debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, which was nominated for album of the year at the Grammy Awards this year.
Citing people familiar with the negotiations, The Financial Times says Apple could announce the deal as early as this week. In its report posted online late last Thursday, the newspaper warned the talks could still collapse if the two sides cannot agree on some final details.
Beats Electronics was founded in Santa Monica, California in 2008 by Dre and Iovine. Its headphones were manufactured by Monster Cable until the two companies parted ways in 2012. The headphones have become a bit of a status symbol worn by celebrities as well as audiophiles.
In 2012, Beats bought streaming music service MOG, which it transformed and relaunched as Beats Music earlier this year. The launch was fueled by a landmark partnership with AT&T that allowed up to five family members to pay $15 a month for the service as long as they were AT&T wireless customers. The deal broke the industry mold of charging each person $10 per month.
AP Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu, AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima in Los Angeles and AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report.