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Jimmy Iovine
Iovine in 2012
Born (1953-03-11) March 11, 1953 (age 71)
  • Record executive
  • entrepreneur
  • media proprietor
Years active1972–present
( m. 1985; div. 2009)
( m. 2016)

James Iovine ( /ˈ.əvn/ EYE-ə-veen; born March 11, 1953 [1]) is an American entrepreneur, former record executive, and media proprietor. He is best known as the co-founder of Interscope Records. [2] He became chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M, an umbrella music unit formed by Universal Music Group in 1999.

Iovine has been involved in the production of more than 250 albums. [1] [3] [4]

In 2006, Iovine and close friend, hip hop musician Dr. Dre, co-founded Beats Electronics. Two years later, the brand launched its first official set of headphones. [5] In late 2013, they began development for, and in 2014, launched Beats Music, which went on to become the framework for Apple Music. [6] The company was purchased by Apple Inc. for $3 billion in May 2014. [7] At the same time, Iovine vacated his positions as chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, ending his twenty-five year relationship with his label. [8]

On August 21, 2018, after initial denial, Iovine parted ways with Apple and effectively retired from the media business. [9] Despite his retirement, he is still credited or named in institutional education centers such as the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy, which inaugurated in 2013, [10] and the Iovine and Young Center, a magnet high school which opened in Los Angeles in August 2022. [11] [12] [13]

Early life and training

James Iovine was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, to an Italian working-class family. [14] [15] His mother was a secretary and his father, Vincent Iovine, [16] worked on the docks as a longshoreman. He has an older sister, born in 1946. [17] The family lived in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood. [18] His father died in 1985. [19] [20]

Iovine attended Catholic school in Brooklyn, [21] graduating from the since-closed Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School and went on to attend New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. [22] At age 19, he dropped out of college. He was introduced to music production after he met a songwriter who helped him find a job as a recording studio cleaner, and he soon began working as an engineer. [23]


Music career

1970s-1980s: Music production and engineering

In the early 1970s, Iovine became a recording engineer, working with John Lennon [24] and Bruce Springsteen, among others. By 1973, Iovine was a part of the staff, working for the now-demolished New York City faction of the Record Plant, [25] where he worked on Springsteen's Born to Run and Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell. He came to prominence through his work on Patti Smith's album Easter (1978), which included her Top 40 hit " Because the Night". He later collaborated with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on Damn the Torpedoes and U2 on Rattle and Hum. Iovine also produced Bella Donna (the first solo album by former Fleetwood Mac member Stevie Nicks), [26] Making Movies for Dire Straits, and Get Close for The Pretenders.

Iovine served as sound engineer for the Voyager Golden Records, a pair of phonograph records which were launched aboard the Voyager space probes in 1977. [27] His father's death and love for Christmas inspired Iovine to record and oversee A Very Special Christmas in 1985. [16] [28] The compilation was not released until 1987 under Interscope's future sister label A&M Records. [29] He was also responsible for supervising the music used in the 1984 romance film Sixteen Candles, Streets of Fire and the 1988 comedy film Scrooged.

1989-2014: Interscope Records

In 1989, Iovine and Ted Field, founder of film production label Interscope Communications, co-founded Interscope Records. [30] A year later, the label secured a distribution deal with Atlantic Records and garnered success with artists including No Doubt, 4 Non Blondes and Gerardo. [31] Atlantic owned a 50% stock in the label. [32] Iovine and Field signed Tupac Shakur to a recording contract as one of the first hip-hop acts under Interscope in 1991. [33] A year later, Interscope became notable for providing distribution, initial funding and financial oversight for the highly successful Death Row Records. Death Row, founded by Suge Knight, operated as a subsidiary of Interscope, beginning with the December 14, 1992 release of label artist and producer Dr. Dre's solo debut album, The Chronic. With singles consisting of " Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" and " Let Me Ride", both of which featuring labelmate Snoop Dogg, The Chronic managed to sell over five million copies in the United States and become Dre's best-selling album in his career. [34] [35] Iovine and Dre would later form a personal friendship following the release of the Chronic through Knight. Over 19 million records sold from Death Row, the label was largely responsible for Interscope's multi-platinum success throughout the 1990s. However, Snoop Dogg accumulated more success on Death Row and Interscope with his November 1993 debut, Doggystyle. [36] [37] It opened at number one on the Billboard 200 with the biggest first-week sales in 1990s hip hop; it consumed 806,858 copies. [38] A year later, Death Row's notoriety through the Interscope imprint attracted various other urban artists willing to join the label, one R&B boy band being Blackstreet, a spin-off of leader Teddy Riley's previous group, Guy. The group's eponymous debut album was released in the summer of 1994. Blackstreet became RIAA- certified platinum in April 1995, despite a poor charting performance, peaking at number fifty-two on the Billboard 200. [39] [40]

By 1995, Interscope became the top music label of the autumn equinox, when in November, No Doubt released their biggest performing album to date, Tragic Kingdom, that October. It produced over 16 million copies worldwide, while its single, " Don't Speak" made number one on Billboard's Radio Songs chart (formerly Hot 100 Airplay). [41]

In September 1995, after internal conflict with Atlantic Records over controversy concerning the label's support of gangsta rap, the label and its former parent company at the time, Time Warner (later WarnerMedia and now Warner Bros. Discovery) made a legitimate decision to sell off its share in Interscope to Iovine and Field. [42] [43] Then, in January 1996, Doug Morris, chairman and CEO of the music division of MCA Inc., convinced Iovine and Field to bring Interscope to the company in exchange for acquiring 50% of the label's shares for $200 million. [44] As a result, Interscope was placed in the same company portfolio of labels alongside future sister label Geffen Records, MCA Records, Universal Records and DreamWorks Records. [45] By then, MCA was sold off by Matsushita Electric (also a parent company of Panasonic) to Canadian distillery and mass media conglomerate Seagram. [46] With Interscope now under the MCA and Seagram shade, the label managed to gain more success with Tupac Shakur's double album, All Eyez on Me, which opened at number one on the Billboard 200 with 566,000 copies sold in its first week. [47] The album became another success for the rap division of the label and Death Row Records, where artist Dr. Dre felt uncomfortable due to founder and former CEO Suge Knight's consistent spending, violent behavior and gang affiliation. [48] As a result, Dre departed from Death Row and resigned with Interscope through a new label deal, creating his own imprint called Aftermath Entertainment. [49] The label's foundation proved to be challenging, when on November 26, 1996, upon release, the compilation Dr. Dre Presents: The Aftermath, was given a lukewarm response as was The Firm's The Album, despite the latter, released on October 21, 1997, almost a year after Dr. Dre Presents: The Aftermath, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200. [50] [51] Iovine, as stated on the 2017 HBO documentary, The Defiant Ones, was pressured by Doug Morris to either give Dre time to control his music and artists or drop him from his label. Iovine responded, "We could that, but then, you would save my salary as well because I'm going with him." [52]

Iovine also failed to sign hip hop entrepreneur Master P and his imprint, No Limit Records, to Interscope Records, after Master P reviewed his offer and realized that Interscope would acquire the entirety of his label, its back catalogue, artists and publishing as well as owning the trademark and rights to the label name. Eventually, Master P rejected Iovine's offer and subsequently signed an 80-20 partnership with rival label Priority Records. Iovine also allegedly threatened him and his management team that if they wouldn't come back to consider the Interscope deal within the next two weeks, they would never "find another deal in the industry nor in this town". [53]

November 1996 proved to be a huge success for Interscope as each week, four of its albums would take on the number one position on the Billboard 200. The first was Tupac Shakur's posthumous (following his September 1996 murder in Las Vegas) and only under the Makaveli alias, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. It was followed by Snoop Dogg's Tha Doggfather, Bush's Razorblade Suitcase and No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom. [54] [55] [56]

In December 1996, MCA Inc., still a subsidiary of Seagram at the time, was rebranded as Universal Pictures. Even so, MCA Music Entertainment was also renamed Universal Music Group. Interscope and various other labels were now a part of the newly rebranded UMG. [57] [58]

Then, during January 1997, following Death Row founder Suge Knight's probation violation and prison sentence, Iovine cut ties with him, causing Interscope to end their business relationship with Death Row by August; [59] [60] the final album released under the Death Row/Interscope deal was the soundtrack to the Tupac Shakur action film, Gridlock'd, which also managed to make way to the Billboard 200's number one position despite going gold and the film's poor box office performance.

In 1998, Iovine's turning point reached a heavy level when in March of that year, he invited longtime friend Dr. Dre to his garage for him to listen to a crate filled with cassette tapes, one of which would apparently be the Slim Shady EP, released in 1997 by an underground rapper, who was participating a tournament of rap battles at the time, by the name of Eminem. [61] The tape eventually landed in the hands of Interscope A&Rs Dean Geistlinger and D.J. Mormile, who later turned it in to label co-founder Ted Field, who also sent it to Iovine for review. Upon suggestion from Iovine, he urged Dre to find Eminem and have him join the Interscope family through Dre's label, Aftermath. [62] Since then, Eminem had found greater success through both labels despite race-related confusion with the Interscope and Universal Music staff and controversy involving his lyrical themes. [52] On February 23, 1999, Eminem released his debut studio album, The Slim Shady LP, to critical acclaim. The album made its way to number two on the Billboard 200, helping to improve both Interscope and Aftermath after years of low sales. [63]

On December 10, 1998, Seagram acquired PolyGram after completing its seven-month $10.6 billion plan to buy the company. [64] It resulted in PolyGram's film division being absorbed into Universal Pictures while its music division was merged with the former Decca/ MCA Records banner of labels, helping the rebuild the biggest music company known to be Universal Music Group. [65] [66] After the PolyGram and MCA merger of Universal Music Group, Interscope became sister labels to new entries A&M Records, Def Jam Recordings, Island Records, Mercury Records and Motown. [67] However, on New Year's Eve 1998, Interscope, Geffen and A&M were altogether merged by UMG as one of its new three label units alongside the Universal Motown Republic Group (Universal, Motown and Republic Records) and the Island Def Jam Music Group (Island, Def Jam and Mercury), being known publicly as Interscope Geffen A&M Records. [68] [66] Within IGA, Iovine and Field were hired to become the unit's co-chairmen and oversee operations of Interscope and Geffen. [69]

Interscope became even more successful following their merger with Geffen Records, especially with breakout stars like Beck, Mya, Enrique Iglesias, Samantha Mumba, Limp Bizkit, Nine Inch Nails and Eve. However, in February 2001, Ted Field parted ways with Interscope Geffen A&M, leading Iovine to take full control of the labels. [70] By 2002, Interscope sustained over 33 top forty hit singles between June 2001 and May 2002. In June of the latter year, Iovine was able to manage to negotiate Eminem and Dr. Dre's joint venture agreement involving then-upcoming hip hop artist and fellow New Yorker 50 Cent. [71] On February 9, 2003, he released his debut studio album, Get Rich or Die Tryin', to widespread acclaim. [72]

Iovine was confidential in merging A&M, DGC, MCA and DreamWorks into defection through Interscope Geffen A&M between 1999 and 2003. [73] [74] [75] Due to A&M co-founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss (1935–2023) filing suit against Iovine, Interscope and UMG over a breach of agreement involving the label's operations, A&M Records had to remain fully operative as a one-off subsidiary of Interscope Records; the two plaintiffs were given a $200 million out of court settlement. [76] Meanwhile, whoever was leftover on MCA and DreamWorks were transferred to Geffen; Beck and Sonic Youth were the only remains of DGC until they were fulfilled from the now-inactive label by August as they were also drafted to Geffen.[ citation needed] Despite these mergers and absorptions, mostly Geffen Records had a field day throughout 2003 with Beck, Blink-182 and Mary J. Blige. However, within Interscope, 50 Cent began to takeover, starting with G-Unit's debut album, Beg for Mercy, released in November to more commercial success. [77] On A&M, the Black Eyed Peas gained more attention with their album, Elephunk, and its various singles. [78] At the end of 2003, Iovine made over $45 million in revenue generated from music sales from his label. [79]

For the next four years, Iovine, Interscope and Geffen began to see extended success from other artists including D12, AFI, Nelly Furtado, The Roots, Gwen Stefani (as a solo artist), The Game, Robin Thicke, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, The Pussycat Dolls and plenty others. Iovine's biggest success story would commence in 2008, when it was noted that in 2007, he discovered a forthcoming pop singer who went under the alias, Lady Gaga. After playing him a demo version of her single, " Poker Face", Gaga was sent to work with singer-songwriter Akon, who in exchange for his mentorship of Gaga, asked Iovine to sign him to his KonLive Distribution label through the aegis of Vincent Herbert's Streamline Records and Interscope. The agreement was settled. [80] By 2013, Akon claimed to have "cashed out" on Gaga's career to avoid a dispute between her management team and Iovine. Thus, he amicably gave her up to Interscope. [81] More success came in the way by October 23, 2012, with the release of Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, released in conjunction with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label and Top Dawg Entertainment, once again to widespread acclaim. [82] Then, in November 2013, Iovine started to shy away from his position as chairman and CEO of the IGA unit, following the releases of Gaga's Artpop and Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2, both of which became number one Billboard 200 albums.[ citation needed]

In 2014, Universal Music Group reported that Iovine was departing from Interscope Records, ending his twenty-five year tenure with the label and vacating his fifteen-year dual position as chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M Records. It was also confirmed that he hired Fueled by Ramen co-founder John Janick to become Iovine's replacement once his departure date was set. Janick was hired to become Interscope's president and COO in 2012. The final artist Iovine signed to his label was J. Cole. [83] On May 28, 2014, Iovine effectively vacated his CEO and chairman positions, while departing from Interscope. The news of his departure from the label occurred following the sale of his and Dr. Dre's headphone company, Beats Electronics, to Apple Inc. [84] As promised, John Janick replaced Iovine as the new chairman and CEO of Interscope, as it was confirmed by Lucian Grainge, the chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M's parent label, Universal Music Group. In a statement, Grainge said: "I'm thrilled to announce John Janick's promotion to Chairman and CEO of IGA. Since coming to UMG nearly two years ago, he has consistently shown why he is widely regarded as one of the most talented, innovative and entrepreneurial executives in the music business today and will be a key player in the future generation of industry leaders. John is the ideal executive to be writing the next chapter in IGA's illustrious history. What Jimmy has done for IGA and UMG is immeasurable. I cannot express how enormously grateful I am for both his partnership and his friendship. While we will miss him as a member of the UMG family, with his appointment at Apple, Jimmy will now be in a position to expand and extend his singular vision and talent, the result of which will, undoubtedly, accelerate the growth of the entire music industry. We look forward to the next exciting phase of Jimmy's extraordinary career as that special creative spark Jimmy brings to whatever he touches leads to innovations and advances in entertainment and technology that will delight music fans around the world." [85]

Business career

Beats Electronics

In 2006, Iovine teamed up with Dr. Dre to create Beats Electronics. It was originally a conversation between the two where Iovine exclaimed to Dre, "fuck sneakers, we need to do speakers." [86] The first set of headphones were produced in 2007 and were officially launched in 2008. [87] From 2009 to 2011, Beats enclosed endorsement deals with Monster Cable and Hewlett-Packard. [88] [89] [90] The company had captured 20 percent market share of the headphones industry by 2012. [91] [92] In January 2013, Iovine announced the expansion of Beats into the online digital music world with Daisy, a new service slated to launch in late 2013. Former Topspin Media executive Ian Rogers and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor were said to be involved. [93] In January 2014, Beats Music was developed and opened to the public after being announced on December 8, 2013. [94] On May 28, 2014, Apple Inc. announced the acquisition of Beats Electronics. The acquisition gave Dre and Iovine a share of over $3.24 billion, becoming the largest acquisition deal in the history of Apple's timeline. [95] Iovine was hired to assume an undisclosed position at Apple [96] where he helped in the creation of Apple Music, which was launched in the summer of 2015 as replacement for Beats Music. [97] [98] On June 26, 2018, Iovine and Dr. Dre were ordered to pay $25 million to former partner and creative designer, Steven Lamar, who sued the two co-founders for $100 million in unpaid royalties for designing the early Beats headphone models. [99] The lawsuit was filed in 2015 after news broke out of Apple's acquisition of the headphone brand a year prior. [100] [101]He was the creative consultant for Apple Music until August 2018. [9] Firstly, he denied reports of him ending his partnership with Apple in January. [102] [103] Citing high usage of music technology and little direction to where Apple Music could be headed to, Iovine quietly left the company and effectively retired from the media industry. [9]

Other ventures

In August 2022, the Iovine and Young Center, a magnet high school opened in Los Angeles. [11] [12] [13] The school aims to improve the declining rate of enrollment in the L.A. Unified district. [104]

In August 2023, it was announced that the Iovine and Young Center was partnering with Atlanta Public Schools to open a new learning center at Frederick Douglass High School in August 2024. The goal of the center is to prepare students for their future academics and careers. [105]

Film and documentary productions

In 2002, Iovine and former Shady Records president Paul Rosenberg co-produced 8 Mile, which opened at number one in the box office and went on to gross more than $240 million worldwide. [106] The film also garnered an Academy Award for Best Original Song for its theme song, " Lose Yourself", making Eminem the first rapper to win this award. [107] Additionally, Iovine executive produced the 2005 crime drama Get Rich or Die Tryin', named after the 2003 debut album of its leading star, 50 Cent. [108] He also produced the 2009 documentary More than a Game, [109] [110] which centered on the life and career of basketball athlete LeBron James; his label Interscope released a soundtrack for the documentary.

Television career

In 2005, Iovine made a guest appearance as himself on " Don't Make Me Over", an episode for the fourth season of Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy.

From 2011 to 2013, Iovine was a mentor on Fox's American Idol. [111] [112] [113] Iovine's protégés— Scotty McCreery, Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, and Candice Glover—released their music through Interscope. [114] Iovine departed from the show in mid-2013; he was replaced by Randy Jackson. [115]

In July 2017, HBO ran a four-part documentary about Jimmy Iovine's relationship with Dr. Dre and other musicians titled The Defiant Ones.

Voice roles

Iovine and Dr. Dre had provided their voices and motion capture performances in two downloadable content updates for Grand Theft Auto Online (2013); the first was 2020's Cayo Perico Heist and the second was 2021's The Contract, the latter of which the player helps to unlock unreleased music by Dr. Dre in between missions or after completing them. [116]


In May 2013, Iovine and Dr. Dre donated $70 million to the University of Southern California to create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. [117] The first class of the academy began in September 2014 with 31 students. [118] On October 2, 2019, the USC opened the Iovine and Young Hall. [119]

In April 2020, Iovine and Dr. Dre donated to the city of Compton to provide support for medical supplies, free COVID-19 testing, and 145,000 meals for residents of the city. [120] In May 2020, Iovine and Dr. Dre partnered with restaurant chain Everytable to provide 30 days of drive-thru meals to Compton residents. [121]

Honors and recognitions

In 2011, Iovine was honored by The Producers & Engineers Wing of the Grammy Awards. "This year we pay tribute to an industry leader, Jimmy Iovine, who has made an indelible impact as a recording engineer, producer, founder of Interscope Records, and now, entrepreneur focused on audio quality," Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the governing body of the Grammy Awards, said in presenting the award. [122]

On May 17, 2013, Iovine received an honorary Doctor of Music degree [123] from the University of Southern California and gave the 2013 USC commencement address. [124]

In 2022, Iovine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Ahmet Ertegun Award category. [125]

Personal life

New York rock radio DJ Carol Miller and Iovine had a two-year relationship in the late 1970s. Miller says "Jimmy had a wonderful, close-knit Italian Catholic family from Brooklyn and Staten Island who could not have been nicer to me. It was I, the Jewish girl from Queens, who always felt silently out of place." She says her father was not very nice to Iovine and was against the relationship due to the differences in their religions. [126] According to Miller, the relationship ended in 1980, when Iovine began spending most of his time in California working with singer Stevie Nicks.

While producing her album Bella Donna, Iovine entered into a relationship with Nicks. The two eventually broke up in 1982. Nicks wrote the song, "Straight Back", included in the Fleetwood Mac album, Mirage, about him.[ citation needed] According to Nicks, Iovine was an inspiration for one of her signature songs, " Edge of Seventeen".[ citation needed] The song also became the backbone for the guitar sample used on Destiny's Child's hit single, " Bootylicious" (2001). [127] Nicks has said that Iovine's despondence from the death of his good friend John Lennon overwhelmed her, and eventually led to the end of their relationship. However, the strong emotion of the time led to the creation of "Edge of Seventeen". [128]

Iovine was married to writer, lawyer, and model Vicki Iovine since 1985 before divorcing in 2006. It was finalized in 2009; the couple have four children. [129]

In 2014, he started dating Liberty Ross, the sister of music composers Atticus and Leopold Ross. [130] They were married in front of their Malibu beach house on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2016, with friends and family in attendance. [131]

On November 22, 2023, Iovine was accused of sexual harassment by an unnamed woman. [132] On February 15, 2024, the accuser dropped the sexual abuse case with prejudice. [133] Documents obtained by Billboard also revealed that while a summons notice was filed in November 2023, no official lawsuit had been filed against Iovine after the claim was made. [133]

Selected discography

Artist Album Released
John Lennon Walls and Bridges 1974
Kansas The Classic Albums Collection: 1974–1983 1974–1983
Bruce Springsteen Born to Run 1975
Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town 1978
Golden Earring Grab It for a Second 1978
Patti Smith Easter 1978
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Damn the Torpedoes 1979
Bruce Springsteen The River 1980
Dire Straits Making Movies 1980
Graham Parker and the Rumour The Up Escalator 1980
Stevie Nicks Bella Donna 1981
U2 Under a Blood Red Sky 1983
Simple Minds Once Upon A Time 1985
Pretenders Get Close 1986
Various A Very Special Christmas 1987
U2 Rattle and Hum 1988
Gwen Stefani Love. Angel. Music. Baby 2004
Lady Gaga Born This Way: The Collection 2011
Iggy Azalea The New Classic 2014




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