While Jimmy Iovine is best known as one of the music industry’s biggest power players — a cofounder of both Interscope Records and the Beats by Dre headphone empire, and as an Apple Music executive — he began his career as music producer and engineer, working with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Lennon, Patti Smith, U2, Stevie Nicks, Dire Straits and many others from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s.
The ever-growing Hipgnosis Songs, which has invested more than $1.5 billion in music catalogs in just two and a half years, announced that it has acquired 100% of Iovine’s catalog of worldwide producer royalties, comprising 259 songs, and his film production royalties for the Eminem-starring “8 Mile” and 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Iovine was represented by Paul Wachter of Main Street Advisors and attorneys Eric Sacks and Don Friedman of Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.
Iovine was barely 20 years old when his engineering career began in earnest with work on Lennon’s “Walls & Bridges” and “Rock and Roll,” albums, and continued with countless hours expended on the notoriously demanding Springsteen’s albums “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” His breakthrough as a producer came with Patti Smith’s top-selling album “Easter,” which spawned a global hit single with the Springsteen-cowritten “Because the Night.” His hot streak continued over the next dozen years, with smash albums for Petty (“Damn the Torpedoes”), Dire Straits (“Making Movies”), Nicks (“Bella Donna”), U2 (“Under a Blood Red Sky” and “Rattle and Hum”), Simple Minds (“Once Upon a Time”), and the Pretenders (“Get Close”), among others. Those albums include hits such as Petty’s “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That,” Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and “Edge of Seventeen,” U2’s “Desire,” and Simple Minds’ “Alive and Kicking.”
He moved away from production in 1990 when he co-founded Interscope Records and in the process helped to develop the careers of Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Nine Inch Nails, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and many more. He also coproduced “8 Mile” and “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” He cofounded Beats Electronics and Beats Music with Dre in 2008 and sold the companies to Apple in 2016 for $3 billion, with Beats Music becoming the foundation for Apple Music and Iovine becoming a top executive for the company, a post he left in 2018. In 2013, he and Dre gave a $70 million endowment to the University of Southern California to create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation.
Hipgnosis’ annual report, released over the summer, showed its revenues soaring in its first full year of business, climbing to $81 million in the 12 month period ended in March 2020 from around $8.9 million in the preceding period. The firm, which has been on an unprecedented acquisition binge of hit songwriter and producer catalogs — been buying up catalogs by hitmakers ranging from Timbaland and Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart to Jack Antonoff and Jeff Bhasker — began trading on the London Stock Exchange in July of 2018. In September it acquired the Big Deal Music Group (and its 35-person staff, giving it a U.S.-based publishing infrastructure) and in November acquired some 33,000 songs from Kobalt’s Capital Fund.
Merck Mercuriadis, Founder of The Family (Music) Limited and Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, said: “While barely in my teens I noticed that so many of my favorite albums had one name in common. The best albums by John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith all had Jimmy Iovine on them. This continued through the 80’s with Stevie Nicks, Dire Straits, U2, Simple Minds, The Pretenders and more from Tom and Patti and I have been glued to everything Jimmy does ever since. His incomparable success with Interscope and Beats means that he would never have to make a deal for money again, but leave it to Jimmy to figure out the most efficient way possible to use his producer royalties to build a best in class high school in the inner city and once again make a massive difference, as he has throughout his life. It’s an honour to now be a custodian of his incredible work on these iconic albums and I’m very happy to welcome him to the Hipgnosis family.”
Iovine said: “I’m happy that my work as a producer with so many great artists has found the right home with Merck and Hipgnosis. I am going to use the proceeds from the deal to help Iovine Young Academy’s initiative to build a high school in South LA as part of the Iovine Young Academy at USC and continue our efforts to support education.”