Dr Dre: Hip-Hop Star Turned Billion Dollar Businessman
The music industry was set on fire after Apple’s rumored acquisition of Beats by Dre came to light in early May. According to reports the technology juggernaut is planning to buy Beats Electronics for a cool $3.2 billion. Co-founded by rapper and hip-hop producer Dr. Dre in 2008, Beats Electronics has become known for its high-end headphones and a recently launched music streaming service.
The rap icon behind Beats, Dr. Dre, hasn’t recorded an album for over 15 years, however he is now calling himself “the first billionaire in hip-hop” and he may not be too far from the truth. If the highly anticipated transaction is to take place, the 49-year-old would become the highest paid figure in rap.
The Beats Back Story
Beats Electronics was co-founded by Andre ‘Dr. Dre’ Young and Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine, after the pair recognized a gap in the market for a decent pair of headphones to replace the tinny ear buds that came with everyone’s MP3 players.
For a period, the company was majority-owned by Taiwanese smartphone makes, HTC, however it reduced its stake to 25 percent in 2012 and then sold its remaining stake in 2013; concurrently, Carlyle Group replaced HTC as a minority shareholder alongside Dr. Dre and Iovine.
The Beats product lines have focused largely on headphones and speakers, marketed under the Beats by Dre brand. Its headphones have become known for their memorable design and heavy bass, which according to Dr. Dre, helps users experience “all” of the music being played.
From 2008 through 2012, Monster Cable served as the manufacturer for all Beats products; the company's manufacturing operations have since been taken in-house. The company has also licensed audio technology to other companies for use in their own products, and expanded into the online music industry with its 2012 purchase of MOG, followed by the 2014 launch of its Beats Music service.
Beats' popularity was influenced primarily by its marketing practices, centering on product placement and branding deals with hip-hop and pop musicians. In 2012, NPD Group reported that Beats had a market share of 64 percent in the U.S for headphones priced higher than $100, and was valued at $1 billion in September 2013.
The Man Behind the Brand
Beats may be the brand of the moment, however the headphone company is certainly not the hip-hop artist’s first foray in business. The once-marginalized form of black pop music has always valued artistry and entrepreneurship in equal measure, and Dr. Dre is a poster child for this. Dre is the founder and owner of Aftermath Entertainment and in the past, was a co-owner and artist on Death Row Records. He has produced albums for and overseen the careers of many rappers, including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, 50 Cent, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar. And what’s more, he is credited as a key figure in the popularization of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats.
In 2014, Forbes ranked Dr. Dre as the second richest figure in the American hip-hop scene with a net worth of $550 million. The acquisition of Beats by Apple just goes to prove that hip-hop has become mainstream enough to move oceans of cash and that is in no small part down to Dre himself.
Today, Beats dominates the market, having sold roughly a billion dollars’ worth of headphones last year alone. With Apple stepping in, Forbes estimates that Dr. Dre’s net worth is about to spike to roughly $800 million, besting that of Sean “Diddy” Combs and Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, two artists who redefined the trajectory of rap music with zeroes and commas and mergers and acquisitions.
It remains to be seen weather the much-hyped acquisition will take place or not, but one thing is for certain, Dr. Dre and the Beat Electronics team have managed to create a multi-billion dollar brand by looking back to their hip-hop heritage. Like the company or not, like the headphones or not, its undeniable that when it comes to branding, Beats have played a blinder. After all, many critics will tell you that there are higher quality products on the market, but to catch the attention of global players like Apple, you need a world-class brand and loyal following. Beats certain have that.
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”