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!