Jimmy Iovine, one of the most influential executives in Hip-Hop, opens up the new year with a substantial investment into the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy, to further the institution’s dream of building a magnet high school in Los Angeles.
The high school will be connected to the revolutionary program at the University of Southern California that exclusively focuses on arts and technology, and pushes an educational philosophy called “The Business of Innovation.”
The capital for the investment comes from Iovine’s recent sale of his entire 259-song catalog to African-American music maker Niles Rodgers and Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Songs Fund.
Hipgnosis is a British Guernsey-registered music IP investment and song management company that also acquired the copyrights of Black music titans RZA and L.A. Reid, and pop music chart-toppers and music makers Mark Ronson, Barry Manilow, Nikki Sixx, and Tom DeLonge.
Jimmy Iovine revealed the excitement he has from selling his masters to the company founded by the man responsible for the samples used in Hip-Hop’s biggest songs. He even shared his plans for some of the money that he got from the acquisition.
“I’m happy that my work as a producer with so many great artists has found the right home with Merck and Hipgnosis,” the Interscope and Beats by Dre co-founder said. “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.”
Jimmy Iovine co-founded Interscope in 1990 and saw its first major hits by collaborating with the West Coast rap label Death Row in 1992 and some fringe rock groups.
It was there that he formed a professional relationship with Dr. Dre and helped the NWA producer start his Aftermath Records. In 2006, he and Dre founded Beats Electronics — the parent company behind Beats by Dre— and sold that venture for $3 billion in May 2014 to Apple Inc.
In 2013, he and Dre continued as partners investing $70 million into USC to form the Iovine Young Academy, which now offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelors’s and a Master’s in arts, technology, and business of innovation.
Iovine’s catalog includes production credit on projects like “8 Mile” (2002) and Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005). He’s also worked with artists like U2, Meat Loaf, Stevie Nicks, and Joan Jett.
In many ways, this is a sweet 360 moment for Hipgnosis founder, Niles Rodgers. When Hip-Hop first started his samples were used to make the classics that catapulted the culture to the top of the charts — and originally he did not reap the benefits.
Pieces of his music were used in songs by Nas, NORE, Snoop Dogg, DJ Premier, Kurtis Blow, J Dilla, P. Diddy, Slim Thug, Mary J. Blige, Jadakiss, Rick Ross, The Game, Xzibit, Freeway, Black Eyed Peas, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and most notably can be heard on The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” and LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells.”
After redefining his understanding of publishing and setting up a model where he would not be exploited, Rodgers now is poised to reap the benefits, as one of the most successful Black producers and publishers in music.
Rodgers produced Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” for heaven sakes. Now … he’s locked into 50 Cent and Eminem’s bag too.
If Iovine’s objective with the schools (9th grade through the graduate level), is to educate on the business, he has to make sure he includes a study on Rodgers’ model.
That is the epitome of the Business of Innovation.