He’s nowhere to be found on Apple’s leadership page, but veteran music industry executive Jimmy Iovine is increasingly becoming one of the most important people inside Apple.
Earlier this week Bloomberg published a report that revealed Apple is working on a redesign for Apple Music, the streaming service that it launched last year.
One of the most interesting pieces of information in the report is the involvement that Iovine has with Apple. He joined the company as part of the Beats acquisition in 2014.
It would have been easy for Iovine to fade into the background, but instead Bloomberg describes him as playing a crucial role in the company.
Iovine is reportedly the key negotiator working with Apple to secure deals with musicians. He founded Interscope records in 1989, and he immediately recognised the growing audience for rap music in the US. He helped shape the careers of rappers such as Dr. Dre and Eminem, as well as pop acts Lady Gaga and Madonna. So he has the experience and the contacts to make deals with stars.
It was reportedly Iovine who avoided a potential crisis when Swift penned an open letter to Apple in June after she became angry over Apple’s royalty policy for the initial rollout of Apple Music. And it was Iovine who secured Drake’s new album “Views” for the service. Iovine has been serving as the crucial link between Apple and the music industry, a relationship that Steve Jobs often struggled with.
As we mentioned above, Iovine isn’t an executive at Apple. He doesn’t even have a job title. It’s been clear from the start that Iovine’s title is merely “Jimmy.” That may sound like a relaxed, hands-off role, but Iovine is very much involved with the company.
There was even speculation that Iovine was the main reason why Apple acquired Beats in the first place. There were three key parts to the Beats deal: The headphone line, its music streaming service, and the roster of talent inside the company that included Dr. Dre, Iovine, and Trent Reznor.
However, an anonymous source said in September that the headphones and existing streaming service were irrelevant. Instead, it was all about Iovine.
Iovine is certainly involved behind the scenes at Apple, but chances are he’s not going to be leading a big keynote speech any time soon. His appearance at the WWDC keynote in 2015 was widely regarded as a disaster. Apple blog Loop Insight said “Please Apple, don’t let Jimmy Iovine on stage again.” Multiple journalists also likened his speech to a drunken uncle. Iovine then gave an interview in which he said that women needed help creating playlists, a comment that he later apologised for. Perhaps he’s best-suited as a backroom operator.