James Iovine (/ˈaɪ.əviːn/ EYE-ə-veen; Italian: [ˈjoːvine]; born March 11, 1953) is an American entrepreneur, record executive, and media proprietor best known as the co-founder of Interscope Records. In 2006, Iovine and rapper-producer Dr. Dre founded Beats Electronics, which produces audio products and operated a now-defunct music streaming service. The company was purchased by Apple Inc. for $3 billion in May 2014.
Prior to the Apple acquisition of Beats in 2014, Iovine became chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M, an umbrella unit merged by the then-newly-reincarnated Universal Music Group in 1999.
Early life and training
James Iovine was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an Italian working-class family. His mother was a secretary and his father, Vincent "Jimmy" Iovine, worked on the docks as a longshoreman. His father's death and his love for Christmas inspired Jimmy to record A Very Special Christmas in 1985. Iovine attended Catholic school in Brooklyn, 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. At 19, he was a college dropout. He was introduced to music production after he met a songwriter who got him a job cleaning a recording studio, and he soon began working as an engineer. Since the start of his career, Iovine has been involved in the production of more than 250 albums.
Music and film engineering and production career
In the early 1970s, Iovine became a recording engineer, working with John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen, among others. By 1973, Iovine was on staff at the New York studio the Record Plant, where he worked on Springsteen's Born to Run and Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell albums. He came to prominence via his work on the 1978 Patti Smith album Easter, which included her Top 40 hit "Because the Night". He teamed 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 for Stevie Nicks), 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.
Iovine was also responsible for supervising the music used in the 1984 romance film Sixteen Candles and the 1988 comedy film Scrooged.
In 1990, Iovine co-founded Interscope Records, which became Interscope Geffen A&M after a merger in 1999.
Iovine signed Tupac Shakur to a recording contract as one of the first hip-hop acts on the Interscope label in 1991.
Iovine was also responsible for providing distribution, initial funding and financial oversight for the highly successful Death Row Records hip-hop label in the 1990s. Death Row operated as a subsidiary of his company Interscope, and was largely responsible for Interscope's initial platinum selling chart successes throughout the 1990s, which later launched the company into greater success in the 2000s with platinum artists like Eminem and 50 Cent.
In 2002, Iovine co-produced the Academy Award-winning Eminem movie, 8 Mile, which opened at #1 at the box office and went on to gross more than $240 million worldwide. Additionally, Iovine executive produced the 2009 LeBron James documentary More than a Game and 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'.