Gil Scott-Heron, among others said it: When the producer names the tune, the consumer must dance.
That said, it’s apparent that thinking of Dr. Dre as “producer” in only the music studio sense has been incredibly short sighted. He has proved to be a visionary by expanding outside the field of a genre of music and attaching his name to a product that has become a staple in modern society—stereo headphones. With the popular hardware in place, the only need has been for the “software” to make more people want it the hardware. iTunes and other services have provided a lot of the soft product. Now, music streaming is the next step, possibly replacing broadcast radio as the primary source of getting music out there. Oh, wait. Has that already happened?
Anyway, kudos to Dr. Dre for looking beyond the illusion of the video vision of hip hop and delving into the intricacies of capitalism and the power of the real producers in society.
Forget Those Big Headphones. Apple Could Turn Beats Into a Streaming Kingpin
By Joshua Brustein
Photograph by Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
A Beats by Dr. Dre pop-up store in New York
Apple (AAPL) has become the latest suitor for Beats Electronics, the maker of headphones and a recent entrant into the growing field of streaming music services. The talks between the companies, first reported by the Financial Times, value Beats at $3.2 billion and could culminate in a deal announcement as soon as next week. Beats makes the vast majority of its revenue on bulky headphones sold with the imprimatur of rap legend Dr. Dre and music mogul Jimmy Iovine, but it seems likely that Apple’s biggest interest would be building on Beats’s nascent streaming service to offset the end of the era in which iTunes has dominated music downloads.
First, let’s dispense with the caveats for this unconfirmed deal. Neither company has commented on the report, although Beats co-founder Dr. Dre claimed to be the “first billionaire in hip hop” in a video posted on Facebook early Friday morning. It appeared to be footage from a celebratory event at which everyone looked pretty soused. Rappers aren’t the most reliable sources of information about their own net worth, but Businessweek found last year that Dr. Dre was one of the few who had traditionally understated his wealth. He was worth $300 million at the time.