What do you get when you combine a rapper and the chairman of a record label? You get a company that navigates a $3-billion Apple buyout! It sounds great unless you happen to be associated with one of Beat's competitors.
Record producer, Jimmy Iovine, joined forces with Andre Young (aka Dr. Dre) at a time when both were trying to navigate changes in the music industry. Beats by Dr. Dre was not born from the luxuries of a penthouse by two men trying on how to come up with the next great deal. It was born because two very troubled troubadours were perplexed by the state of music, the effects of pirates and the demise of hard-copy recordings on their careers. We can learn a few things from the rise of the audio brand and the team that created it.
Be a Visionary
Both Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre were already big names in the industry pre-Beats, but when they combined their forces they brought different strengths to the table. It was Dre's name recognition and fascination with the quality of music that drove him. Iovine had solid corporate backing and the desire to turn out a quality product. Only at first, they didn't know what that product would be.
Dr. Dre's lawyer recommended he sell sneakers. When Dre ran this idea by Iovine, Iovine said, "Nobody in the world cares about how you dress or will care about your sneakers. What you should sell is speakers." Iovine tells his story of this conversation in an article on BusinessInsider.com. From there, the men combined their vision and drive and Beats was born.
Hone Your Team and Product
Either Dre or Iovine could have decided to take the idea and run with it alone, but they chose to combine their energy and go after something that seemed far-fetched (and it surely was). Could two guys who qualified as music makers, but not makers of the devices that play the music really pull it off? Doesn't it take more than a love of music to do the work of an electronics engineer? The two worked relentlessly on their sound delivery system to make it the best in the world. They knew, by experience, how hard recording artists and studios work to get the sound just right. Why do that if the devices used to listen fall short?
Find Your Audience
Once the product was almost consumer-ready, they sent one to basketball superstar LeBron James. Not long after that, Iovine received a call requesting 15 sets of the headphones on behalf of LeBron. Beats headphones were broadcast around the world when every player on the 2008 Olympic basketball team sported a set. Now, they are a fixture in the music industry and are on shelves in every electronics store in the country. One listen, and you can see what all the hoopla is about. Beats is a new experience in listening to music.
Seeing your product or service from conception to fruition is a long and arduous process. It takes vision, a solid team, a mighty product and marketing to the right audience. But when it all comes together, sometimes it turns into an empire.