University of Southern California

2013 Commencement Speaker


Jimmy Iovine

Jimmy Iovine, the Chairman of Universal Music Group’s
Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records unit, is regarded as both a legendary figure in the music industry as well as a forward-thinking visionary.

The Brooklyn-born Iovine’s four-decade career began when he was just out of his teens. As a recording engineer, he found himself in the studio with John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen (Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town) before setting his sights on being a producer. Building on what he’d learned from the masters, he helped Patti Smith (Easter), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Damn The Torpedoes), and U2 (Rattle & Hum) — all current Rock and Roll Hall of Famers — achieve career breakthroughs. He also produced Stevie Nicks’ first solo album (Bella Donna) as well as albums for Dire Straits (Making Movies) and The Pretenders (Get Close).

Interscope, the record label that Iovine co-founded in 1990, has come to be widely regarded as the home of music’s most consistently fearless, intriguing, and popular artists, including Dr. Dre, Nine Inch Nails, U2, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt, Marilyn Manson, The Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Lady Gaga. Powered by Iovine’s peerless rapport with musicians, new buzzed-about stars like Azealia Banks, Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar and Lana Del Rey, are ensuring that that reputation endures.

With the rise of hip-hop, alternative culture, and technology, Iovine didn’t rest on his legacy but instead used his credibility and integrity to transform Interscope into a multi-media powerhouse that puts artists and ideas first. “The way I produce records now is I support record producers,” Iovine has said.

Iovine co-produced the hit Eminem movie 8 Mile directed by Curtis Hanson and executive produced the critically acclaimed LeBron James documentary More Than A Game.

In 2006, Iovine and hip-hop pioneer/producer Dr. Dre co-founded Beats By Dr. Dre, a high-performance headphone and sound transmission company intent on recapturing the fidelity of the studio. “Dre’s and my mission for Beats was to introduce premium audio to a generation that had never experienced the emotion of music as intended by the artists because of substandard ear buds and PCs,” says Iovine.

Thanks to its sleekly designed headphones, as well as expansion into smart phones and car audio systems, Beats By Dr. Dre has been wildly successful, capturing 40 percent market share of the entire billion-dollar headphones industry. Iovine plans to expand the Beats brand and reputation into the digital music space with a new service slated to launch in late 2013. Former Topspin exec Ian Rogers and Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor will work alongside Iovine to bring this music service to the masses.

For the last two years, Iovine has found a new outlet for his hard-earned wisdom. Most Americans know him as the outspoken and frank mentor who shares his insight and expertise with contestants on Fox’s ratings blockbuster American Idol. Under Iovine’s watchful eye, Idol’s standout performers now release their music through Interscope, whose A&R and marketing strategies have led to breakout careers for Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips.