The NFL has banned players from wearing Beats by Dre headphones on camera and the happiest person on the planet about that crackdown might just be … a co-founder of Beats.
“We didn’t do anything, and now the players are going out and putting black tape on our logo,” Jimmy Iovine said the University of Southern California’s Global Conversation (via Business Insider). “It’s like, I can’t believe I’m this lucky,” he said with a laugh. “I feel like sending them the tape.”
That was a reference to Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who was fined $10,000 by the league last week for wearing the distinctive headphones to his postgame press conference. On Monday night, he showed up wearing them again — with tape over the logo. The NFL last spring signed a deal with Bose. Kaepernick, like Richard Sherman and other NFL stars, endorses Beats. (Last week, he was coy about whether he or Beats picked up the $10k tab.)
“What happened there, you have a tech company that’s culturally inept,” Iovine, who convinced Dr. Dre to start a headphones company rather than a sneaker line, said. “There’s no one at the company that said, ‘If you ban these guys, you’re going to look bad to the young people, and they’re going to look like superheros even though they’re just pure capitalists — Well, they’re not pure capitalists, but they’re real capitalists and [they] sold that company to Apple — but you’re going to make them look like the underdog.”
Beats, now owned by Apple, dominates the headphones market and Iovine went on to tell how the company came to be. From Business Insider:
“I was walking down the beach one day and I ran into Andre Young, Dr. Dre,” Iovine said. “I was exercising, and I said, ‘How’re you doing?’ And Dre is very soft-spoken, doesn’t talk much, he just said to me, ‘Yo, my lawyer, he wants me to sell sneakers — what do you think?’
“I said, ‘Dre, nobody in the world cares about how you dress or will care about your sneakers. What you should sell is speakers.’ At that moment, he said to me, ‘We can do that?’ And I said, ‘[Expletive] yeah.'”
For Iovine, it was exactly the opportunity he had been searching for.
“It all hit me at once: Steve Jobs, the record business, the iPod, Dre, ‘cool’ … it all hit me at once, and I said, ‘Let’s do this.'”
The two then had to figure out a name for the business.
“[Dre] said, ‘You know I use this word ‘beats,'” Iovine said. “‘You know, I make beats, right, so ‘Beats by Dr. Dre.”
“I said, ‘OK, headphones … beats … by Dr. Dre — headphones and speakers.’
“He said, ‘I’m in,’ and that was the beginning of the company, and that’s exactly how it happened.”