As co-founder of Interscope Records, Jimmy Iovine introduced the world to some of the biggest names of the '90s hip-hop and alternative rock scenes, changing the industry landscape. Premiering July 9, HBO’s four-part documentary The Defiant Ones recounts the lucrative creative and business partnership of Iovine and Dr. Dre, which resulted not only in many hit songs and albums but also the uber-successful Beats By Dre line. But one of the two is not in the business of making records anymore. Why did Jimmy Iovine quit Interscope?
According to Billboard, Apple bought Beats in 2014, bringing Iovine and Dre on board as executives. These days, Iovine is driving content rather than working with artists in the studio. In an interview with Pharrell Williams and Scott Vener for OTHERtone on Beats 1, Iovine addressed his reasons for not making music anymore, which included the digital disruption of music via Napster, piracy, and music streaming services. “If you wait for this technology to fix your problems, it’s going to eat you, so I said ‘I’m going on the other side,'" he said. Iovine believed the industry wouldn't be able to roll with the changes, so Iovine transitioned from being a hotshot label owner to basically joining up with the competition.
As Billboard reported back in 2014, Iovine was succeeded by Fueled by Ramen’s founder John Janick upon leaving Interscope Records. But despite Iovine's departure from the more creative side of the industry, his attentiveness to Apple Music shows that the art form is still an important passion for him.
In a more recent interview with Variety, Iovine remarked that he doesn't regret leaving Interscope or that side of the business behind. However, Iovine still believes there is a struggle within the record industry. "You gotta remember, the record industry, in order for it to really thrive, has got to attract great people," he said. In his opinion, innovators are being drawn to other fields that seem to hold more opportunity.
Regardless of what the future may hold for the industry, HBO's The Defiant Ones highlights a groundbreaking era for popular music. As the record industry continues to change in the ways that people produce, obtain, and listen to music, Iovine is still defining things behind the scenes — just in a different way.