The fascinating tale behind Beats by Dre
27th April 2017
Right now, millions of people across the globe are listening to their favourite tunes, podcasts, movies and TV shows in crystal-clear sound. In their own words, Beats by Dre have introduced the possibilities of premium audio entertainment to an entirely new generation.
But how did we get here?
The story of the multibillion dollar audio company begins just shy of twelve years ago. And like any great invention or innovation, Beats by Dre began with a conversation between two people. Granted, they weren’t exactly ordinary people – one was a multimillion-dollar rapper, producer and entrepreneur who pretty much paved the path for hip-hop since it began, the other producing literally hundreds of the biggest-selling albums in history.
In 2006, Dre Dre and Interscope Records music mogul Jimmy Iovine saw two problems with the way people’s music habits were changing. Speaking to inc.com, lovine recalls Dre saying to him: “Man, it's one thing that people steal my music. It's another thing to destroy the feeling of what I've worked on.”
Dre was referring, of course, to cheap plastic earphones – and how their poor quality repressed the production work on what he and all artists create. Quickly, the vision was born. And from day one, the pair set out to ruffle feathers. "I'm going to market this product just like it was Tupac or U2 or Guns N' Roses," Iovine thought.
And that they did. From research and development, to getting the product in the ears of music fans around the globe, Dre and Iovine used their respective positions to their advantage. For example, when the duo set about designing the first line of Beats headphones, their market research was – how do we say this? – a little more advanced than most companies might enjoy...
Example One: Iovine, at this point Chairman of Interscope Records, would have various prototypes in his office, and anyone who stepped through the doors was polled on what they thought of each. That ‘anyone’ just so happened to include the likes of M.I.A., Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani and will.i.am; people who know what they’re talking about, basically.
Example Two: a finished prototype was sent to an old friend of Iovine’s, basketball star LeBron James. The next day he gets a call back: “LeBron wants 15”. Not long after, they appeared on the ears of every member of the 2008 US Olympic Basketball Team when they arrived in Shanghai. That’s the kind of marketing you can’t buy!
Spot the celebs in the new Beats by Dre Solo Selfie ad. Here now but airing during the Brits later: http://t.co/pMKphtFEee— Lee Thompson (@leethommo) 25 February 2015
That star quality was central to the brand’s initial growth – with product appearances in music videos (Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Wiz Khalifa), and movies (Zombieland and even Sex And The City).
Beats by Dre quickly became the cool kid in class.
If you want to talk numbers, Beats by Dre controls almost 70 percent of the market for premium headphones, according to inc.com. Maybe their greatest feat is that today they’re a central part of Apple; one of the companies they initially set out to challenge. All that has happened in just over a decade. But if you think it’s all style over substance, you’re dead wrong. As technology keeps leaping forward, Beats by Dre are front and centre, delivering the products that incorporate the very cutting edge of it.
They introduced their take on the wireless speaker with the Beats Pill in 2012, and turned something people saw as a luxury they'd probably-use-for-a-bit-and-then-forget-about into an absolutely essential. The latest iteration, the Beats Pill+ offers studio-quality sound in the park, on the beach, in the bedroom – wherever you need it.
As noise reduction and wireless headphones have grown in popularity, Beats by Dre are leading the charge in both areas, too. With a range of styles to choose from, whether you’re running (see the Beatsx Earphones) or after the flashiest of the flash (you can’t argue with the Beats Solo3 Wireless On Ear Headphones), they’ve created something to suit everyone.
Now the history lesson’s over, there’s one question left to answer: what’s next? While we have no idea what Dre and lovine will have up their sleeves next, we know we'll want one. Whatever it is.