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Jimmy Iovine details Beats pitch to Apple, more in new interview

Beats' Jimmy Iovine (left) and Dr. Dre. | Source: Beats Music

In a wide-ranging interview for GQ's "Men of the Year" segment for 2014, music mogul Jimmy Iovine recounts new behind-the-scenes details on Apple's buyout of Beats Electronics and Beats Music, a process he said took years.

A transcript of GQ's Q&A session published Wednesday offers new insight into Apple's $3 billion deal to buy Beats, which snagged the Cupertino tech giant both a headphone business and a music streaming service.

Iovine said he waited for about two years before Apple said "yeah" to his takeover proposal.

"I convinced them that they had to buy this company," Iovine said. "I said, 'I don't want to work for anybody else. I want to do this at Apple. I know I can achieve this at Apple. I don't want to shop it. I wanna come here, to Steve's company. I know you guys; I know what you're capable of; I know you get popular culture. I know you have a hole in music right now; let me plug it.'"

Elaborating on the "hole" metaphor, Iovine implied Apple was falling behind in music services, specifically those tailored to meet the "rise of streaming," which has proved to be a major music industry disruptor. As iTunes changed the way people bought and listened to music, on-demand streaming is quickly doing the same to digital content.

Not much time was spent on his current endeavors at Apple, though Iovine did say he spends time at Apple's Cupertino headquarters.

"When I go up to Apple to work on this music service we're doing, I'm in it," he said. "I'm in that spot from 1973, in the studio, just saying, 'I've gotta crack the code on this thing.' But I got it. It doesn't have me. The holy grail is peace, with ambition. Otherwise, you've wasted your life."

On meeting Dr. Dre, Beats cofounder and current Apple employee, Iovine said the rap star came in to promote The Chronic with then-CEO of Death Row Records Suge Knight. Dre, Knight, Tracy "The D.O.C." Lynn Curry and Richard Gilbert "Dick" Griffey cofounded Death Row in 1991. Iovine's relationship with Dre is "a special thing," he said.

"We trust each other implicitly. It's the closest to a band as I was ever in," Iovine said. "We know what each other does, and we trust each other's instincts so much, that when he's moving somewhere and I go, "No," he goes, "Okay, let's not do that." We've been through a lot; this is a guy— I always say, 'You may know a lot of people who have gotten shot, but you don't know a lot of people who have shot back.'"

Finally, Iovine briefly touched on his musical roots, citing The Beatles as an initial inspiration. As a producer, Iovine played a big part in the successes of huge names like Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Eminem, Dr. Dre and many more.