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Jimmy Iovine will leave Apple in August, four years after his $3 billion deal

The music producer helped launch Apple Music, but he has had a diminished role at the company for a while.

Music producer Jimmy Iovine sits courtside at a basketball game
Jimmy Iovine at a Los Angeles Lakers game in October 2017.
Allen Berezovsky / Getty
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Jimmy Iovine, the legendary music producer turned entrepreneur who sold his Beats Music and Beats Electronics business to Apple in 2014, plans to leave the company this summer.

Iovine’s departure, timed to the end of an employment contract, has been widely discussed throughout the music industry for many months. His stock answer, when asked what will happen when that contract is up in August, has been a version of, “I have no idea what I’ll be doing then. I’ll be 65.”

For the record, industry trade publication Hits announced in a post this morning that Iovine would leave. Billboard followed up. Apple, for the record, declined to comment; I haven’t heard back from Iovine.

Iovine, who was brought in to kickstart Apple’s move into the subscription music business, has had a limited role within the company for some time.

Apple Music, the service the company launched a year after buying Beats, is run by longtime Apple exec Robert Kondrk, who reports to content boss Eddy Cue. And while Iovine told reporters last spring that he was spearheading the company’s move into video, he hasn’t had an active role in its billion dollar push into original TV shows; those efforts are headed by former Sony executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who also report to Cue.

An uncomfortable question for Apple: Did it get its money’s worth when it paid Iovine and his partner, Dr. Dre, $3 billion for Beats four years ago — the largest acquisition in the company’s history?

The positive answer: Apple makes real revenue from the Beats headphone line Iovine sold them. And Apple now says it has 30 million paying subscribers for Apple Music, which means it is generating real revenue, even if it is less than the ambitious goals Apple had laid out to the music industry in advance of its 2015 launch. You can attribute some of that to the connections and salesmanship that Iovine brought to Apple as it courted artists for the new service.

On the other hand, you don’t actually need a big-shot music executive to launch a music subscription service — just ask Spotify, run by a Swedish programmer who had no exposure to the music industry when he started the company. Now Daniel Ek has 70 million subscribers and is headed for a $20 billion IPO this year.

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